Editor’s note: Former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George discusses Derrick Henry’s foot injury, and his expectations for Henry’s production after missing eight games last season with a broken bone in his right foot.
Any foot injury to a running back is detrimental to them. When I played, my toe was a big issue. I had a turf toe, and trust me, it affects you. Especially early on if you haven’t played in quite some time. I tried to play through it after having surgery that allowed me to play the following season without missing any time.
I wasn’t the same back; it felt like I had a flat tire. It took me a while to get used to a new foot because it was a surgically repaired toe. I had to gain confidence in hard-cutting, quick-stopping and bursting off of that foot. Taking off on it was a challenge.
I’m curious to see Henry’s get-off because of how big and powerful he is. He’s known for his burst and maintaining that breakaway speed. The first thing that I’m looking for in the preseason or the regular season is him cutting off that right foot. How is he going to plant and burst through the hole?
I want to see if he has to ease into that cut going to his right and if he has to double-step. That one step makes all the difference in this league. That’s what he’s been known for and that could be a problem if he’s uncomfortable doing it, especially early in the season.
Henry is 28 years old and coming off of a significant injury last year that pretty much took his whole season away. I guess the question is: How much does he have left in the tank? You look at Henry’s production during the last five years and he’s gotten better each year. He shared time in his first two years before having a breakout season with 1,500 yards in 2019.
He backed that up with the 2,000-yard season in 2020 and was well on his way to obliterating Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record prior to the injury. Most people want to look at the running back’s age. With Henry, that’s not the number you want to look at because he didn’t have a lot of playing time in the early part of his career. He still has a lot of tread on his tires.
Look at all the great running backs that are in the Hall of Fame. They’ve all accumulated more than 3,000 total carries in their career. The average guys now are getting 1,500 carries for their career. The good backs, guys that are on the cusp, are 2,500 or more. Henry is well on his way to that point.
Henry has fewer than 1,500 carries, so I’m not looking so much at his age or even the injury. I’m looking at the number of carries he has. Given how he takes care of his body, and how the league is not as physical as it once was when I played, I think he still has some great years ahead of him. This could be another huge year for Henry in terms of anywhere from 1,500 yards to 1,800 yards again this season.