Derrick Henry isn’t a big or brash talker. That’s what made the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner calling his performance ”kind of soft” in Tennessee’s regular-season finale stand out.
The massive running back sure made up for that with an NFL postseason debut for the record books.
Getting Henry to acknowledge any change in his own confidence or being pleased after a big game is as tough as tackling him in the open field.
”I’m just trying to play better every week Malik Hooker Jersey ,” Henry said . ”I’m going to get another chance to play – it’s a great team in a good environment – so just making sure I’m doing all the right things this week.”
Henry rebounded from a game in which he ran for 51 yards by setting a franchise playoff record with 191 yards from scrimmage, helping the Titans rally for a 22-21 victory over Kansas City in the wild-card round. He topped the previous mark set by Billy Cannon in January 1961 with the best performance by a running back in the playoffs in at least a decade.
Now it’s up to Bill Belichick and the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots (13-3) to slow down Henry on Saturday night in their AFC divisional game. Belichick says everyone on defense has to do his job.
”Henry has got a ton of skill, and he’s got power, good vision,” Belichick said. ”He can certainly run inside and break tackles, he’s a tough runner, he can get tough runs. But, he’s very athletic in the open field. He’s fast, he can cut back, he can get to space. He’s broken off a lot of long runs, running plays, screens.”
Against Jacksonville on Dec. 31, Henry made up for a rough day running by taking a screen 66 yards for a touchdown . But his first three carries went backward, including a 12-yard loss that came dangerously close to a safety.
”He saw some of the things that he missed by trying to bounce some things,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. ”He’s had a lot of success bouncing some runs, but at some point you’ve got to hit some of these holes that are there, and they’re not big all the time. I think he saw that, and obviously he’s a quick, fast learner.”
The second-year running back out of Alabama bounced back with a career-high 156 yards, just shy of Eddie George’s franchise-record 162 in a postseason game.
Henry also had 85 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 35-yard touchdown , for the NFL’s third-best rushing performance in the fourth quarter of a playoff game since the 1991 season. Only LeGarrette Blount (114 yards for the Patriots vs. the Colts on Jan. 11 Quincy Wilson Jersey , 2014) and Derek Loville (97 yards for the Broncos against the Jaguars on Dec. 27, 1997) have been better in that span.
Finishing is what the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry does best. Only the Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt had more yards rushing (474) in the NFL in the fourth quarter this season than Henry (390), who averaged a league-best 6.09 yards per carry over the final 15 minutes.
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia says Henry is powerful with a dangerous stiff-arm.
”If it’s a one-on-one tackling situation, it’s extremely difficult to get him down in that instance,” Patricia said.
Henry teamed with quarterback Marcus Mariota to pile up a franchise-record 202 yards rushing for a postseason game. The Patriots ranked 31st, allowing 4.7 yards per rushing play.
DeMarco Murray already has been declared out for a third straight game for Tennessee, leaving the backfield to Henry.
”It’s my job trying to help this team win games,” Henry said. ”It’s always fun when you’re playing football.”
NOTES: LG Quinton Spain (back) practiced fully after missing the last two days. CB Logan Ryan (ankle) practiced fully after being limited Wednesday.
MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun will be back in the starting lineup Sunday when the Milwaukee Brewers wrap up their four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park.
Braun left the team ahead of their scheduled game in Pittsburgh Wednesday morning to get an injection on his right thumb — a process he undergoes every few months after a nerve issue in the thumb robbed him of his power in 2014.
Braun returned to the team Thursday ahead of the series opener against St. Louis but despite being ready and available, according to manager Craig Counsell, Braun has yet to appear in a game since coming back.
“Ryan is doing fine, he’s doing great,” Counsell said Saturday before the Brewers’ 3-2 loss to the Cardinals. “I just think that if we can give him more time, great, that works out for both of us in that perspective. He’ll play (Sunday).”
With Braun sidelined, Eric Thames has seen most of the action in left field, a move that allows Counsell to keep hot-hitting Jesus Aguilar at first base.
Putting Thames in left also allowed the Brewers the flexibility to option slumping outfielder Domingo Santana to Triple-A Colorado Springs Saturday morning.
The 25-year-old Santana hit 30 home runs in a breakout 2017 campaign but with his playing time limited after Milwaukee added Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich during the offseason, Santana hasn’t made the most of his limited opportunities. He was batting .249 with three home runs, 17 RBIs and a .667 slugging percentage while going more than two series without a start.
“We need to get Domingo going,” Counsell said. “At some point, we’re going to need Domingo. We’d both prefer he’d be rolling and clicking when that time comes. It’s tough to do when you’re not playing that much.
“Eric and ‘Aggie’ are playing well. We’re trying to find ways to get them both in the lineup. That’s a factor in this.”
To replace Santana on the active roster, Milwaukee recalled infielder Brad Miller from Colorado Springs. That move could help the Brewers address another troubling situation: The season-long offensive struggles of shortstop Orlando Arcia.
Arcia is batting .201 with a .234 on-base percentage this season but has remained in Counsell’s starting lineup on a regular basis because of his stellar ability on defense and because the Brewers lacked other viable options.
Eric Sogard has struggled at the plate this season Tarell Basham Jersey , too, batting .146 with a .255 OBP. Counsell prefers to keep Jonathan Villar at second base, where he moved after Arcia was promoted two years ago and Tyler Saladino, who performed well enough after joining the team in May for the Brewers to send Arcia to Triple-A is out indefinitely with a serious ankle sprain.
“Brad has played all over the field,” Counsell said. “He played a lot of shortstop for a while, then he played a lot of second base, then a lot of first base. So, he has moved around in different years, but it’s been a while since he played shortstop.”
One thing that has been constant for Milwaukee this season is right-hander Jhoulys Chacin.
As has been the case for most of his career, Chacin has been especially effective at home this season where he’s posted a 2.31 ERA in six starts at Miller Park.
Overall, he’s made a team-leading 16 starts this season and is 6-2 with a 3.18 ERA. He’s held opponents to a .231 average and a 1.24 WHIP while striking out 66 in 87 2/3 innings.
“He’s pitching,” Counsell said. “He’s got some cunning and some craftiness out there, as well as good stuff.”
The Cardinals will be trying to get a split of the series after Yadier Molina hit two homers Saturday. The Cardinals dropped the first two games by committing four errors Thursday and allowing a game-ending homer to Aguilar Friday.
Molina has five homers in his last six games and guided Miles Mikolas through 6 2/3 strong innings.
“What he’s doing behind the plate is willpower,” St. Louis Mike Matheny said. “Being able to handle pain and discomfort. He’s smarter at the plate. He has such a great idea, and he’s dangerous, obviously. It’s hard to say, if he kept playing, where he’d be right now in the home run column and a number of others.”
Right-hander Luke Weaver gets the nod for the Cardinals as they try to build momentum after snapping a three-game losing streak.
Weaver will be looking for his first victory since May 11 when he threw five shutout innings in a 9-5 victory at San Diego. In seven starts since that outing, Weaver is 0-4 with a 4.46 ERA and has allowed four runs in each of his last three starts while recording only one out past the fifth inning.
He’s 2-2 with a 4.41 ERA in six career starts against the Brewers with a 2-2 mark and 3.68 ERA in four starts at Miller Park, where he lasted four innings and took the loss after giving up four runs on four hits in an 8-3 loss on May 28.