Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans
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The Titans have remained atop the AFC South standings despite playing much of the year without MVP candidate running back Derrick Henry, but the progress of the former 2,000-yard rusher has the team optimistic about his return for the playoffs.

Sources said Henry continues to make progress in his recovery from foot surgery that he underwent in November to repair a fracture, and the Titans expect to activate his three-week window to return from the injured reserve list shortly. While it remains a stretch that Henry would return for Week 18 given the severity of the injury and the length of his absence (two months) -- not to mention the Titans may be locked into a playoff seed anyway -- the team is hopeful that he could make a difference for them in the postseason.

The scope of the offense has constricted significantly without the premier running back, with teams not having to devote nearly as much man power around the line of scrimmage to stop the run. His absence, coupled with injuries to top receivers AJ Brown and Julio Jones, put a significant strain on the defense, and without his top teammates, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has tended to do too much at times, resulting in far more turnovers than normal.

It remains to be seen how heavy of a role Henry could assume immediately upon any return. In an era of multiple backs and a division of labor, the Titans have leaned on Henry more than any other back in the NFL, with his unique bruising style, coupled with the ability to break away for long runs, making him seemingly unstoppable most weeks.

They may need to be more judicious with Henry's workload as he gets his legs back under him and adjusts to playing again, though he has remained adamant about making an impact on their season at some point and returning to being the focal point of their attack. Henry played through discomfort in his foot in a Week 8 win over the Colts to close out October, but has not returned to the practice field since. The Titans were 6-2 at the time of his injury and are 4-3 since, remaining atop the AFC South.

They host the Dolphins today and travel to the Texans to conclude the regular season. Tennessee is a game behind the Chiefs for the top seed in the AFC, which would bring with it a bye in the first round of the playoffs.