When Derrick Henry was downgraded to questionable on Saturday and ultimately ruled out for the Titans Week 16 game against the Saints, there was some question about whether the big running back had suffered a setback or if the team was, in fact, simply resting their Pro Bowler for the all-important finale in Houston. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport cleared that up for us yesterday, reporting that Henry did not suffer a setback with his lingering hamstring injury and is expected to be closer to 100% against the Texans this week as a result.
From The Aftermath: The #Titans did something very smart, resting RB Derrick Henry (hamstring) for a game that didn't mean anything and on Sunday, he'll be as healthy as he's been in a long time. pic.twitter.com/pP6JBuODhw— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 23, 2019
This is very smart personnel management by the Titans given the importance of the Saints game compared to the importance of the Texans game. As we outlined here prior to last week’s game, once the Texans beat the Buccaneers and clinched the AFC South title, beating New Orleans became far less important to the Titans postseason hopes due to the way the tiebreakers between Tennessee and Pittsburgh shake out.
With Henry still nursing a hamstring injury that he’d been playing through since Week 13, the Titans saw an opportunity to get their star back some much needed rest and took it. Would Tennessee have won if 22 had played Sunday? Maybe, but what they could have gained — a playoff spot if the Steelers lost out and the Colts win out — was nowhere near as valuable as what they stood to gain if they could get Henry’s burst and big play threat back in the lineup for Houston and beyond. The Titans offense had a good showing against a tough Saints defense without Henry, but there is no denying that he’s a game changer when he’s healthy and in the lineup.
We should get an injury report either today or tomorrow (the Titans are practicing on Tuesday instead of Wednesday this week to let the players be home on Christmas) and that should give us an idea of whether guys like Adoree’ Jackson, Adam Humphries, and Jeffery Simmons might be able to join Henry on the field in Houston.
I would guess that this decision was likely a collaboration between Mike Vrabel, Jon Robinson, and the Titans medical staff/trainers, but Vrabel has the final say on who plays and who doesn’t so he deserves credit for making the right call here. A healthy Titans squad heading into the playoffs would be a dangerous animal and this decision gave the team the best chance of being healthy at the right time.