Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson confirmed Wednesday that Henry and Dion Lewis will split playing time, Jim Wyatt of the Titans' official site reports. "In my mind, we've got a big running back. We've got a big first- and second-down back," Vrabel said of Henry. "Dion provides a different body type, a different playing style. So how the two will complement each other, I'm not really sure. But I know that one's got a certain skill set and another body type and one is a little smaller, probably a little quicker, and has a different running style."
There was some thought Henry would handle a bell-cow role after DeMarco Murray was released in early March, but the Titans then acted quickly to sign Lewis, who profiles as an ideal complement for the 240-pound Heisman Trophy winner. The former Patriot is a skilled pass catcher and elusive open-field runner, whereas Henry relies on strength, vision and straight-line speed to successfully work between the tackles. Lewis should dominate passing downs and mix in on early downs, with Henry getting a larger share of the carries and the vast majority of short-yardage/goal-line work. It also won't be a huge surprise if Henry gets a shot at a three-down role at some point during the upcoming season, considering Lewis played nine or fewer games each year from 2012 to 2016. The idea of a post-Murray breakout is still alive and well for Henry.
Henry's breakout performance in the postseason suggests he'll likely still receive the bulk of early down work, but the versatile Lewis should nearly monopolize the snaps on passing downs. While the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry's powerful running style still makes him the heavy favorite to lead the team in touchdowns, the bell-cow workload owners were hoping for Henry to take on in the wake of DeMarco Murray's release is unlikely to materialize following Lewis' signing.
Henry now tops a running back depth chart that also includes David Fluellen and Khalfani Muhammad, with the Titans likely to add further depth at the position in free agency and/or the draft. With Murray no longer around to contend with, Henry -- health permitting -- should easily eclipse the 176 carries (for 744 yards) that he logged in 2017. At 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, the 2016 second-rounder should have no problem handling the added workload in store. With the increased opportunity now at hand, Henry's fantasy prospects are clearly on the rise in advance of the coming NFL season.
The 2016 second-rounder rushed for a career-high 156 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and caught both of his targets for 35 yards in last week's 22-21 win over the Chiefs in the wild-card round. Per Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com the Titans are inclined to use Henry "quite a bit Saturday to exploit some holes in the Patriots' run defense." Given how well Henry ran during the Titans' initial playoff game, that's a sound approach, though in turn it's expected the New England coaching staff will craft its defensive game plan with containing the Tennessee ground game as its top priority.
While Mularkey isn't ruling DeMarco Murray (knee) out for the showdown with the Patriots after the veteran running back sat out the team's playoff-opening win over the Chiefs last weekend, Henry will be in line for the lead role again after producing 191 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 25 touches in the upset victory. Murray, who is dealing with a Grade 3 MCL tear, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, is considered day-to-day at this juncture and will likely only be available in a supporting role for the divisional round if he shows enough progress with his recovery during practices this week. Though the top-seeded Patriots are heavy favorites in the matchup, Henry's status as the unquestioned top option out of the backfield makes him a solid DFS building block against a New England rush defense that ceded 4.7 yards per carry during the regular season, the second-worst mark in the NFL.
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