After an 11-week absence from the field, Derrick Henry made his long-awaited return in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals, though it wasn’t the return he was hoping for.

Henry had not played since week 8 of the NFL season, where he suffered a foot injury in Tennessee’s overtime win against division rival Indianapolis Colts, and soon after underwent surgery. In his return, he accounted for 62 yards rushing and a touchdown on 20 rushes in a 19-16 Titans loss. His longest rush of the day went for nine yards.

In the loss, Henry played with a steel plate and five screws in his foot, as well as a metal plate in his shoe. The purpose of the plate in his foot was to alleviate pressure off the area he had surgery and to keep it safe while he was running, while the plate in his shoe was added to provide extra protection.

In the eight regular season games that he played before his injury, Henry put up 937 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns, leading the NFL in both categories at the time and well on his way to leading the NFL in both categories for the 2021 regular season, a repeat of what he did in 2019 and 2020. He was also on pace to become the first player with back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons before the injury.

What might be even more impressive is that after his week 8 injury, it took until week 12 for the NFL’s next leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor, to surpass Henry’s 937 rushing yard mark.

Without their main back, Tennessee used a mix rushing attack that featured three main backs: D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, and Jeremy McNichols. In Henry’s absence, the Titans were able to stay afloat just enough to grab the number one seed in the AFC playoffs, giving them homefield advantage and a first-round bye.

After the disappointing loss, Henry and the Titans head into the offseason looking for ways to improve in hopes of getting back to the AFC championship, a spot they made it just two years ago, and maybe even the Super Bowl.

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On Friday, Aug. 27, the Hillcrest Patriots defeated the Tuscaloosa County Wildcats for their annual rivalry game 35-10. This is the eighth straight win for the Pats over County High.