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Titans rule Derrick Henry OUT, waive RB Jeremy McNichols, other roster moves explained

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans did NOT activate Derrick Henry in time for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Houston Texans, and he’s officially been ruled OUT of the contest.

Henry will return in the playoffs. This was always the expected outcome. Henry had been designated to return from injured reserve just earlier this week. Mike Vrabel had been complimentary of how hard Henry practiced, which cracked the door open for a potential Henry return this weekend, but it wasn’t to be. It’s the right decision. Henry hasn’t played since suffering a foot injury on Halloween against the Indianapolis Colts. He’s appeared in eight games for the Titans this season, registering 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 219 attempts. We can’t stress how badly Tennessee needs him back on the field.

Tennessee has plenty to play for on Sunday, as a win over the Texans would clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC, which earns you a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They’ll have to do it without Henry.

Also on Saturday, the Titans waived running back Jeremy McNichols while making running back Jordan Wilkins a standard practice squad elevation. The timing to release McNichols is a bit odd, given that Henry wasn’t activated. McNichols did whiff pretty terribly in pass protection on Miami’s lone sack in Week 17. Wilkins, signed to the practice squad last month, will join running backs D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard on the gameday roster. General manager Jon Robinson will likely attempt to get McNichols back on the practice squad.

Additionally, defensive lineman Kevin Strong has been promoted to the active roster. Fellow defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand will be elevated to the game day roster as a standard practice squad elevation for Sunday’s game. He will revert to the practice squad at the conclusion of the contest. These moves are largely being made because Vrabel ruled OUT defensive tackles Teair Tart and Naquan Jones for Sunday’s game. That leaves Tennessee without their first and second choice nose tackles. Tart and Jones are their most effective big-bodied run stuffers up the middle. Jones had especially been playing well lately. He should be healthy for the playoffs. We should see a ton of Larrell Murchison and Kyle Peko on Sunday with Strong and Hand mixing in.

New tight end Ryan Izzo, Hand and Wilkins will become the 90th, 91st and 92nd player to suit up for the Titans in 2021. The record-breaking number grows by two on Sunday.

Stay tuned to MCM for all roster updates and in-depth analysis.