Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) flies past Redskins safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (20) as he heads in for the team's first touchdown in the first quarter Nissan Stadium Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn.

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Titans’ power play: Derrick Henry likely ready for Bengals

Derrick Henry hopes to make a triumphant return as the top-seeded Tennessee Titans host the upstart Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC divisional playoff game in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday.

Henry is expected to be activated from injured reserve and play for the first time since sustaining a fractured right foot on Oct. 31. Prior to the injury, the bruising back led the NFL with 219 carries for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“It’s been a while since he’s had contact,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Henry. “We’re going to have to do these things that come close to replicating what’s going to be asked of him in a football game. We’ll have a week of work, we’ll see how he feels and make a decision.”

Henry would love a repeat of his 2019 performance in the playoffs, as he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 175 or more yards in back-to-back games. He participated in a padded practice Tuesday and said Wednesday he plans to contribute, but to what degree remains uncertain.

Whatever I can do to help, I am always for it,” Henry said. “… I am ready to go out there and play.”

Whether it’s Henry receiving the full workload or D’Onta Foreman tasked with carrying the mail, the Titans face a stern test against the Bengals’ fifth-ranked rush defense (102.5 yards per game). Tennessee received a boost from Foreman (566 rushing yards, three touchdowns in nine games) to finish the regular season with the fifth-ranked rushing offense (141.4 yards).

“I think we kind of stuck to our guns, and I think the stats will show that,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We ran the ball really well, even with Derrick out.

“If he is back (for Saturday), it’ll be nice to have him back. But I feel like we’ve stuck to our guns and our game plan and we can insert him back in.”

The threat of a viable play-action passing game should benefit Tannehill (3,734 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 14 interceptions), who endured a statistically mediocre season at best.

A.J. Brown was Tannehill’s most trusted target with team-leading totals in catches (63), receiving yards (869) and receiving touchdowns (five) despite playing in just 13 games. The Titans have posted an 11-2 record in games in which Brown has played.

Tennessee rested last week with the No. 1 seed in the AFC, while the Bengals outlasted the Raiders 26-19 in the wildcard matchup in Cincinnati.

On the opposite sideline resides confident second-year quarterback Joe Burrow, who set franchise records in passing yards (4,611) and touchdown passes (34) this season while completing an NFL-best 70.4 percent of his attempts. Burrow fired two touchdown passes in his first career playoff start last weekend, leading fourth-seeded Cincinnati past the Raiders.

Considering Burrow is no stranger when it comes to competing for championships, a wild-card victory wasn’t the end-all, be-all for him.

“I tried to downplay it and all that because this is how it’s gonna be from here on out,” Burrow said. “It was a great win for us. But now this is the standard for the bare minimum every year going forward.”

Rookie Ja’Marr Chase had nine catches for 116 receiving yards in his playoff debut to help the Bengals secured their first postseason win since the 1990 season.

The Burrow-Chase connection has helped Cincinnati average a league seventh-best 27.1 points per game. Tennessee, in turn, finished sixth in scoring defense (20.8).

Bengals standout defensive end Trey Hendrickson’s availability for this weekend is in question after he sustained a concussion in the third quarter against the Raiders. But Hendrickson was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, a sign of measured progress.

“Progressing through the concussion protocol in a positive manner,” Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor said of Hendrickson, who totaled an NFL fifth-best 14 sacks en route to earning his first Pro Bowl selection. Hendrickson’s career-best total topped the 13.5 he had in 2020 for the New Orleans Saints.

Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee) and wide receiver Stanley Morgan (hamstring) were limited in Wednesday’s practice.

Tennessee defensive lineman Teair Tart (ankle) was listed as limited on Tuesday’s injury report after sitting out the season finale against the Houston Texans. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and running back Derrick Henry  (22)  run drills during practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park In Nashville on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020.

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Titans RB Derrick Henry participates in padded practice

Derrick Henry took another step toward playing in the divisional playoffs on Saturday by participating in contact drills at Titans practice.

Whether the powerful running back is able to play when Tennessee hosts the Cincinnati Bengals in Nashville on Saturday afternoon is a week-long question with multiple variables, according to head coach Mike Vrabel.

But Vrabel said Henry would move in the right direction if he came out of the contact-allowed drills unscathed. He remains a non-roster participant in a bid to return from a broken foot that required surgery.

Henry hasn’t played since Oct. 31 but his window to be activated to the 53-man roster opened Jan. 5, giving the Titans time to get him on the field and set benchmarks for his return.

The NFL’s leading rusher at the time of his injury, Henry missed eight games but still finished sixth among running backs in rushing yards (937) in 2021.

“It has been a while since he has had contact,” Vrabel said. “We will have a week of work, see how he feels, and make a decision.”

D’Onta Foreman filled in with Henry out and had 533 yards on 166 carries (4.3 yards per carry). Vrabel said Foreman would remain involved in the gameplan regardless of Henry’s gameday status.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) throws Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Norman (29) aside as he rushes up the field during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Titans won’t rush call on RB Derrick Henry’s return

Derrick Henry and the rested Tennessee Titans plan to take their time determining the bulldozing running back’s status for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said this week’s practice would determine whether Henry is ready for his first game action since Oct. 31. He had surgery on his broken right foot.

“It’s going to be a big week of practice for us to continue to get Derrick back out there and get him acclimated to running the football and to seeing blocking schemes and seeing where guys are and to see where the cuts are,” Vrabel said.

Tennessee had a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

Henry was injured Week 8 and had surgery the first week of November during which an intramedullary screw was inserted on the inside of the damaged metatarsal.

In eight games, Henry had 219 carries for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished in the top 10 in rushing despite not playing more than half of the season.

D’Onta Foreman would continue filling a bigger role if Henry cannot play.

The Bengals, who defeated the Las Vegas Raiders last week, are preparing for Henry to play, head coach Zac Taylor said. While Cincinnati was fifth in the NFL in rushing defense, the loss of defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a season-ending foot injury in the wild-card win is significant.

“We’re going to need to run the football,” Vrabel said.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Green Bay Packers center Lucas Patrick (62) celebrates with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NFL announces divisional-round playoff schedule

With one game still play in the opening round of the NFL playoffs, the league on Sunday announced the schedule for next weekend’s divisional round.

Saturday’s action kicks off with a matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS. The top-seeded Titans will be well-rested following a first-round bye, while the fourth-seeded Bengals prevailed against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday 26-19.

The Titans and Bengals did not meet during the regular season.

Saturday’s nightcap (8:15 p.m. ET, FOX) features the NFC’s top seed, the Green Bay Packers, playing host to the sixth-seeded San Francisco 49ers in a rematch from a wild Week 3 contest. Green Bay snuck out of the Bay Area with a 30-28 triumph in that one as Aaron Rodgers engineered a last-minute drive that Mason Crosby punctuated with a 51-yard field goal on the final play.

The Packers, who had a first-round bye, won five straight games late in the season before losing to the Detroit Lions in a meaningless Week 18 matchup. The 49ers closed the regular season with seven wins in their final nine games and then rode the momentum to a 23-17 road victory against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Next Sunday’s first game will take place at Tampa Bay, where the second-seeded Buccaneers will play host to either the No. 4 Los Angeles Rams or the No. 5 Arizona Cardinals at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. The Rams and Cardinals are set to square off Monday night in the final game of wild-card weekend.

The defending champion Bucs disposed of the Philadelphia Eagles 31-15 on Sunday. Tampa Bay lost to the host Rams 34-24 in Week 3. Tom Brady and the Bucs did not face the Cardinals this season.

The Kansas City Chiefs will play host to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET on CBS) in the final game of the divisional round. Second-seeded Kansas City routed the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21 on Sunday evening, while No. 3 seed Buffalo obliterated the New England Patriots 47-17 one day earlier.

The teams met back in Week 5, when the Bills went into Kansas City and left with a 38-20 victory behind Josh Allen’s three passing TDs and one rushing score.

The conference championship games will take place on Jan. 30 and the Super Bowl will be on Feb. 13 at Inglewood, Calif.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs the ball during warm ups against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Titans RB Derrick Henry out of finale, expected for playoffs

Three days after designating Derrick Henry for return from injured reserve, the Tennessee Titans decided not to activate the two-time Pro Bowl running back ahead of Sunday’s road game against the Houston Texans.

Despite remaining inactive, Henry began practicing this week and his 21-day window to active status leaves plenty of time for him to return to the field during the postseason.

The Titans (11-5) have already won the AFC South division crown and will clinch the AFC’s top seed along with a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win at Houston (4-12).

Henry, who turned 28 on Tuesday, has not played since suffering a broken bone in his right foot during a win on Halloween against the Indianapolis Colts.

The injury cut short another standout season for Henry, who was the league’s leading rusher at the time he was hurt. He still leads the NFL with 117.1 rushing yards per game, the third straight season he has topped all of football (tied for NFL’s longest streak since the 1970 merger).

Despite playing in just eight games this season, Henry is tied for sixth in carries (219) and ranks sixth overall in rushing yards (937). He reached double digits in rushing touchdowns (10) for the fourth straight season.

–Field Level Media

Ryan Tannehill and the Titans have managed to keep winning despite the injury to Derrick Henry.

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Titans eye AFC top seed … and Derrick Henry’s return

After returning to the top spot in the AFC playoff race last week, the Tennessee Titans could welcome a stalwart back for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the host Houston Texans.

Tennessee this week designated running back Derrick Henry to return to practice from injured reserve, beginning a 21-day window for the team to activate him. Henry has been on IR since suffering a foot injury against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8 and underwent surgery Nov. 2.

The Titans (11-5) have won five of eight without Henry, who still ranks sixth in the league in rushing yards (937) and rushing touchdowns (10).

Tennessee can secure the AFC’s top seed and a first-round bye with a victory against the Texans (4-12) or a Kansas City Chiefs loss in Denver on Saturday. Whether Henry returns in Week 18 or the first game of what the Titans hope is a lengthy postseason run, he figures to bring a marked boost.

“It’s exciting to get him back out there,” Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “Obviously, he’s put in a lot of work to get to this point, and it’s been a while. … Derrick is a heck of a player. Anytime we can get him out here working his way to going out and competing, it’s going to be huge for us. He has to work through some things and get ready to go, but excited for the steps that he’s taken and the work he’s put in to get to this point.”

Tannehill passed for two touchdowns and D’Onta Foreman ran for 132 yards and a score to help the Titans rout the visiting Miami Dolphins 34-3 last week to clinch their second successive AFC South crown.

Meantime, Kansas City’s road loss to Cincinnati allowed Tennessee to vault into the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Houston lost 23-7 to host San Francisco in Week 17, snapping a two-game winning streak. The Texans were limited to 222 yards of offense, with quarterback Davis Mills finishing 21-for-32 passing for 163 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Texans coach David Culley said the locker room was loose and determined entering the season finale.

“They’re looking at it as they want to end the year the right way,” Culley said. “They want to end it with a win. We’ve had three or four ballgames where we’ve gone into the fourth quarter with chances to win and couldn’t finish it. Last week was one of those. And hopefully this week, we can finish it and finish it the right way, and if we do the right things, we’ll get the results that we want.”

Tennessee leads the all-time series with Houston 21-18 and is seeking a season split. The Texans defeated the host Titans 22-13 in Week 11, earning their first win against their AFC South rivals since a 24-21 triumph in Week 15 of the 2019 season.

Tennessee outgained Houston 420-190 in that first matchup but was unable to overcome four Tannehill interceptions. The Titans also fumbled four times, losing one.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) makes his way to the field before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Titans LB Bud Dupree charged with misdemeanor assault

Tennessee Titans linebacker Bud Dupree faces a misdemeanor assault charge after a weekend altercation with an employee at a Nashville drugstore.

Metro Nashville Police said the incident at a Walgreens began with a verbal spat Sunday night between a 20-year-old male employee and some customers.

Police said those individuals later reentered the store with Dupree, who allegedly grabbed the employee and got into a physical altercation before leaving.

“Due to the victim being assaulted, the defendant is being charged with assault-fear of bodily injury,” the police said in a statement on Tuesday.

A police spokesperson told The Tennessean that the employee used his phone to film the incident. The worker was treated for a cut on his forehead and a female employee was treated for a cut on one of her hands, police said.

Dupree, 28, must report for booking on the citation within three weeks.

The Titans have said they “are aware of the situation and are gathering additional information.”

Dupree, in his seventh NFL season and first with the Titans, played 37 snaps and had one tackle in Sunday’s 34-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins. He has 14 tackles in 10 games (five starts) this season with three sacks.

A first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015, Dupree has played in 91 career games with 71 starts. He has 245 career tackles, 42.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles after playing his first six seasons in Pittsburgh.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs through the Indianapolis Colts defense during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021 in Indianapolis, Ind.

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Report: Derrick Henry (foot) ‘expected’ at Titans’ practice Wed.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, who has been on injured reserve since Nov. 1 with a broken bone in his right foot, is expected to return from injured reserve Wednesday and participate in practice, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Henry got some light work in Monday, when Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the team will consider whether to activate his window to return from injured reserve mid-week. If Henry is designated to return, he’ll have a 21-day window to return to the 53-man active roster.

Henry suffered the injury Oct. 31 (Week 8) against the Indianapolis Colts. At the time, he led the NFL in rushing with 937 yards.

Henry, 28, had surgery to repair the “Jones” fracture on Nov. 2. Since his absence, D’Onta Foreman has been the lead running back in Tennessee, piling up 497 yards.

Even with Henry’s return to practice, the two-time NFL rushing champion may not suit up for the Titans in their season finale against the Houston Texans. The Titans (11-5) have locked up their division and currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

They can lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win in Houston (4-12) Sunday, but the team may choose to rest Henry to give him an extra week off before the playoffs with a potential first-round playoff bye the next week.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Tennessee Titans running back Dontrell Hilliard(40) runs the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Titans drub Dolphins to win AFC South title

D’onta Foreman rushed 26 times for 132 yards and one touchdown Sunday as the host Tennessee Titans clinched the AFC South Division title with a 34-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Nashville.

Ryan Tannehill completed 13-of-18 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns as the Titans (11-5) won their second division title by snapping the Dolphins’ seven-game winning streak. The Titans have made the playoffs in all three years since Tannehill arrived in a trade with the Dolphins.

The last time the franchise won two straight division titles was in 1962, when the team was called the Houston Oilers.

Tua Tagovailoa led Miami (8-8), completing 18-of-38 passes for 205 yards. However, he was sacked four times, and he fumbled three times, losing one. He was also intercepted once.

The game was played in 36-degree weather with sporadic rain on a beat-up Nissan Stadium field, which hosted the Music City Bowl on Thursday.

Tennessee opened the scoring on Tennessee’s one-yard pass to tight end Geoff Swain with 1:24 left in the first quarter. The key to that eight-play, 46-yard drive was a fourth-and-one conversion on a Tannehill quarterback sneak to the Miami 15.

On the ensuing possession, Tagovailoa lost his grip trying to pass and fumbled, recovered by Tennessee’s Elijah Molden at the Miami 14. That led to Randy Bullock’s 23-yard field goal.

Miami cut its deficit to 10-3 on Jason Sanders’ 39-yard field goal with 9:47 left in the second quarter. Duke Johnson ran three times for 31 yards on that 54-yard drive; he also recovered a Tagovailoa fumble on the center-snap exchange.

Tennessee closed the first-half scoring on Foreman’s 21-yard run 3:24 before halftime, giving the Titans a 17-3 advantage. The Titans went 3-for-3 on third downs in that drive.

Miami nearly scored on its first third-quarter possession, but Sanders’ 53-yard field goal bounced off the crossbar. The previous play, an eight-yard sack by blitzing linebacker Harold Landry III, proved crucial.

The Dolphins’ next drive ended on a fourth-and-11 incompletion to DeVante Parker, who argued that he was interfered with, earning him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The Titans took over at their own 42 and put the game away when Tannehill hit tight end Anthony Firkser for a 15-yard touchdown with 7:42 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Dec 23, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

For Dolphins, path to playoffs goes through Titans and former QB Ryan Tannehill

The Miami Dolphins, the first team in NFL history to win seven straight games and also lose seven consecutive games in the same season, are set to visit the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Miami (8-7) will make the playoffs if it beats the Titans (10-5) and New England (9-6) to close out the regular season.

Dolphins coach Brian Flores said his players deserve credit for how they have responded to a brutal 1-7 start.

“The guys keep fighting,” Flores said.

While that’s true, the Dolphins have also been fortunate. During this winning streak — the second-longest active run in the NFL — the Dolphins have beaten just one team that does not have a losing record. That team is Baltimore, which is barely above .500 at 8-7.

The Dolphins are now tasked with defeating Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill, who spent six seasons as Miami’s starting quarterback, struggling with mediocre talent surrounding him. Tannehill had a 42-46 record as Miami’s starting QB.

In Tennessee, however, Tannehill has produced a sterling 28-13 record.

But, with star running back Derrick Henry out since Halloween due to a foot injury, more pressure has fallen on Tannehill. Henry last year became just the eighth NFL player to rush for 2,000 yards in one season. He was on pace to break the league record when he got hurt, and his return could happen this season.

In the meantime, Tannehill has been intercepted a league-high 14 times this season as defenses no longer fear the Titans’ run game.

Last weekend, however, Tannehill helped Tennessee rally from a 10-point halftime deficit as the Titans beat the 49ers 20-17 on Randy Bullock’s 44-yard field goal with four seconds left. Tannehill passed for 169 second-half yards.

“We’re not dead yet,” Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said of the Titans, who have lost three of their past five games.

A win over the Dolphins would give the Titans their second straight AFC South championship.

Wide receiver A.J. Brown, who came off injured reserve for the 49ers game, is Tannehill’s top target. Brown caught a career-high 11 passes for 145 yards against the 49ers. For the season, he has 57 receptions for 760 yards. This is his third year in the NFL, and he’s hoping for his third 1,000-yard season.

The Titans, who opened as 3 1/2-point favorites over the Dolphins, will be playing on nine days of rest.

Miami, after its game at New Orleans on Monday, will have only five days of rest.

Otherwise, the teams are fairly similar in that they each have a dynamic, young wide receiver — Brown for Tennessee and Jaylen Waddle for Miami — and suffocating run defenses.

Waddle on Monday set the Dolphins rookie record for receiving yards with 941 on 96 catches.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has made a living this year out of short and safe passes to Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki (67 catches for 707 yards).

But Tagovailoa, who leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.1), seems to make just enough plays to win games, and that was the case against the Saints. In that game, Tagovailoa’s biggest throw was a 40-yard dime lofted over the top of a defender, who was draped all over Mack Holllins. That third-down throw led to Miami’s only offensive touchdown of the game.

Tagovailoa is 12-7 in two years as Miami’s QB, but he has also been intercepted three times in the past two games.

Defensively, the Titans rank second in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (86.7). Miami ranks seventh (102.3).

Against the pass, Miami leads the NFL with 45 sacks. Tennessee is tied for 10th with 37 sacks.

The Titans’ pass-blocking against that fierce Dolphins rush is a matchup to watch. Tennessee, missing both starters on the left side, allowed four sacks to the 49ers. However, left guard Rodger Saffold was activated from the COVID-protocol list this week. And left tackle Taylor Lewan, who missed the 49ers game due to a back injury, also returned to practice. Both players are expected to start Sunday.

Titans starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who has an ankle injury, was limited in practice this week, and that could be a factor on Sunday.

–Field Level Media