The Tennessee Titans still won’t confirm whether Derrick Henry will play on Saturday in their playoff game against the Bengals. When asked about it today during a press conference, Henry shrugged his shoulders, gave a slight grin, and said “[We’ll] see how this week goes, and see where I’m at on Saturday.”
Evasive response or not, it appears the path is clear for the star running back to take the field Saturday against Cincinnati. Henry went through a contact practice on Tuesday for the first time since his return from IR earlier this month. He was upbeat while talking to the media, emphasizing that he has been taking all of the necessary steps and he is currently in a good place.
It’s the first time in Henry’s career that he has dealt with a major injury. He has been sidelined since Week 9 with a Jones fracture in his right foot. He told the media on Wednesday that such care was taken with his injured foot that his girlfriend drove him back and forth to the practice facility for “five weeks.”
Besides that detail, he played down what he’s been going through. “I have a big steel plate in my foot,” he said. “That’s the only difference from the left and the right.”
A big steel plate in his foot. That’s all. Nothing a rub down and a few extra strength Tylenol can’t handle. Personally, I’m weirded out as to what it feels like to have metal inside your foot on a day-to-day basis. After you get home from the hospital, can you feel the plate by your pinky toe? Does it take time to get acclimated to the plate, like wearing a football helmet? If you stub that pinkie toe on the corner of the bed, does it hurt more, or less?
These are the things a 6-foot adult who hasn’t sprinted in six years wonders about. For a 6-foot-3, well-conditioned adult who is built like sheet rock, part of the job is adding steel to your foot to try and win a Super Bowl. Another reminder that those of us who watch sports have very little idea of the physical demands required of athletes at the highest level.
The Titans looked strong towards the end of the season, but their fate rests on that steel plate in Henry’s right foot. If it fits like a glove, and he has full use of that foot, he is capable of putting the Titans on top of his shoulder pads and carrying them to where they haven’t been since Y2K, the Super Bowl.
While neither Henry nor the Titans have confirmed he will play on Saturday, I believe what Henry said — cutting off reporter Paul Kuharsky’s question about taking his first in-game hit — says everything that needs to be said about Henry’s status for the game.
“Paul, all these questions, I mean, I’m not really focused on that. I’m just ready to go out there and play.”
Bengals, I hope you all heard that.