During his rookie year with the Tennessee Titans, Derrick Henry rushed for 490 total yards. Compare that to his last season at Alabama, when he rushed for 2,219 yards, and you can imagine how that might make a competitor like Derrick Henry feel.
Going from winning the Heisman Trophy to being a backup can be hard, but for Henry, it’s nothing new.
While at Alabama, Henry wasn’t always the starter. In 2013, Henry had to compete for time behind T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. That season, he only carried the ball 35 times, for 382 yards. In 2014, that total went up to 172 carries, for 990 yards. It wasn’t until his junior season in 2015 that he became a household name.
With the start of another NFL season on the verge of beginning, Henry is eager for the opportunity to show he can contribute more. In the Titans’ most recent exhibition against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, Henry showcased his abilities in limited action, scoring two touchdowns.
He displayed the determination and power rushing style that Alabama fans became familiar with, bulldozing defenders for yards after contact. His speed was there. His motivation to eclipse the paltry rushing total from a season ago was apparent even from the stands. Exhibition games don’t always mean much, but for a player such as Henry, every game means more reps and an opportunity to get better.
“Last year was a learning experience – give me a chance to learn everything and go through everything during my rookie year,” Henry said after the game. “This year, during the offseason, just training and getting ready for this year, and preparing to be the starter, even if I’m not.”
Talking to him, I could see the passion, the hunger to show that he’s capable of much more as a Titan.
Henry also showed what kind of teammate he can be. When fellow Titan and former Alabama teammate Jalston Fowler was injured, Henry was the first one there to help.
“That’s like having a family in the backfield,” Henry said. “That’s my brother, so I wanted to make sure he was al; right when I saw him on the ground, so I rushed over there to see if he was good.”
Henry’s NFL career is just getting started, and he’s hungry and humble after giving just a small taste of what he is capable of. Sound familiar?
(You can follow Hannah Stephens on Twitter @HannahESPN)
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