Raiders Brace For Bruising Titans Running Back Derrick Henry
HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Jayon Brown is looking forward to his return to Nashville, where he spent the first five years of his career with the Tennessee Titans.
Playing against former teammate Derrick Henry — that’s another story.
“Derrick’s a big guy, downhill runner, very physical, one of the best backs in the league — if not the best back in the league,” Brown said. “We’ve got to come downhill and tackle him.”
Henry, the NFL’s second-leading rusher since he entered the league in 2016 with 6,904 yards, isn’t the only problem for the Raiders (0-2) as they search for their first win, but he might be the biggest.
The Titans (0-2) are also looking for their first victory, while Henry is looking for his first 100-yard game after reaching the mark in 20 of his previous 30 games before this season.
“I think we all know what we need to do,” Henry said. “We know it hasn’t been our standard, the success we had in the past, and we’ve got to be better. I think we all know that. We need to have a sense of urgency and that’s what we all focus on. I think the sense of urgency rises and you get a level that you just want to get it going at some point and that’s my main focus.”
The Raiders’ defense has been shredded for 768 yards in two games, 10th-most in the league — including 413 by Arizona last Sunday, when Las Vegas blew a 20-point lead for the first time in franchise history and lost in overtime. The Cardinals rushed for 143 yards, plus quarterback Kyler Murray’s improbable two-point conversion scramble that covered a total distance of 84.9 yards, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
And while Murray was elusive with his scrambling ability, Henry is an entirely different chore, running straight ahead with a deliberate and violent manner.
“He takes his first step and he’s just downhill,” said linebacker Divine Deablo, who led the Raiders with 16 tackles on Sunday. “We’ve got to do our best to get to him before he gets to that step.”
Easier said than done.
Henry, who’s rushed for 173 yards and 5.09 yards per attempt in three career games against the Raiders, is averaging 17 carries per game this season. At 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, he’s the biggest back Las Vegas’ defense will have seen in its first three games.