Clocked at 21.64 mph, Titans' Henry promises to be faster
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By TERESA M. WALKER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry says he didn't want to be caught from behind and promises he'll be even faster the next time he breaks out into the open.
The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner took a quick flip from Marcus Mariota and raced up the left sideline for a 75-yard run . The NFL's Next Gen stats clocked him at 21.64 mph - tied for the fifth-fastest ball carrier this season . Only Jacksonville's Leonard Fournette has been faster on a run play.
And Henry, clocked at 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2016 combine, is a bit disappointed at his slow time.
"I hope it's faster," Henry said of his speed now from his college days at Alabama. "That time it should've been faster. It will be faster if I get another chance."
Based on what he's already done this season, Henry may get that chance again soon. Veteran DeMarco Murray remains the Titans' starter, though coach Mike Mularkey says Tennessee really has two starters in Murray and Henry.
Murray has the most carries (140) compared to 125 for Henry. But it's the second-year back leading Tennessee with 629 yards rushing.
Henry has boosted his yardage with not one, but two rushes long runs this season. He sealed a 36-22 win over Indianapolis on Oct. 16 with a 72-yard touchdown inside the final minute, and his 75-yarder capped a 24-13 win over Houston last week , also coming with less than a minute left.
Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie said the Texans free safety had an angle on Henry, but just couldn't catch the 6-foot-3, 247-pound running back.
"When you sit down and look at him, how can somebody that big be that fast?" Robiskie said Thursday.
Murray also had a 75-yard run earlier this season, making the Titans the first team since 2012 with at least three runs of 70 yards or longer in the same season.
The Titans led the AFC in rushing last season, and they rank seventh in the NFL in averaging 122.1 yards per game.
Robiskie says Henry has been lobbying to get the ball more early in games.
But the offensive coordinator has been using Murray more early with Henry as the crunching closer in the fourth quarter for the Titans (8-4).
"Those old guys are tired, exhausted, can't chase him, so he still fresh," Robiskie said. "As the game goes, Derrick gets stronger. You watch him run, watch him go, he gets stronger and stronger just like the other day."
The Arizona Cardinals (5-7) get the next chance to defend Henry and Murray. They rank ninth in the league, allowing only 99.5 yards rushing per game.
Coach Bruce Arians said their challenge isn't just Murray and Henry, but the threat of quarterback Marcus Mariota taking off as well.
"It just puts a lot of pressure on your defense to get prepared, because if you can't stop the power game you're going to have a long day," Arians said.
Henry also promised something else: A better celebration. He capped his long TD run by trying to leap up to the fans.
"I'm going to try to get up there instead of half-hanging on, trying not to fall off a cliff or something," Henry said.
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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
Updated December 7, 2017