The Titans (6-2) are the best team in the AFC after Week 8, but it gives them little comfort knowing they could be without running back Derrick Henry – their most essential player – for the rest. of the 2021 NFL season.
Henry suffered a foot injury in Sunday’s 34-31 overtime win over the Colts, which turned out to be a broken bone. That leaves Tennessee scrambling to create a viable power racing game with a significant drop in the big, fast workaholic’s talent.
Options on the Titans roster are limited to Jeremy McNichols, more of a pace-changing wide receiver and former Browns replacement Dontrell Hilliard. Darrynton Evans was drafted in the second round in 2020 to be Henry’s best replacement, but he hasn’t been able to keep his knee healthy and is already in the late-season injury reserve.
Tennessee’s offense is based on the intimidating volume of Henry setting up the passing game down the field for Ryan Tannehill. Neither McNichols nor Hilliard are good enough at handling feature-like keys. The Titans will have to look to a committee to maintain at least a solid rushing attack minus Henry’s spectacular.
To that end, they need to add a free agency veteran (Adrian Peterson already works for them) or better yet, get aggressive before the NFL mid-season trading deadline of 4 p.m. ET. Here’s a look at the full-backs Tennessee GM Jon Robinson should consider a trade for:
MORE: RB Titans Depth Chart After Derrick Henry Injury
David Johnson, Texans
The Texans have already brought Mark Ingram back to the Saints and could benefit from sending another member of their veterans committee. Johnson would offer some versatility in the passing game while still being tall enough to handle key touches through the red zone. The question with him is whether Houston would easily want to help a division foe in Tennessee.
Philip Lindsay, Texans
Lindsay doesn’t have the same executive as Henry or Johnson, but he has had a solid production history from his Denver days where he gets the keys and a favorable blocking pattern to back him up. Like Johnson, it should cost little, considering the Texans ditched Ingram for a seventh-round three-draft.
Jamaal Williams, Lions
Williams (thigh) was inactive for the Week 8 game for the Eagles, but his injury is considered minor. When he was away, seventh-round rookie Jermar Jefferson looked pretty good in addition to sophomore stud D’Andre Swift. Detroit, with zero wins, needs to focus on the youth movement and has no reason to keep Williams on a committee with Swift. He might cost a bit more than Johnson or Lindsay, but can probably be had for a fourth round at most.
David Montgomery, Bear
Now we are getting more interesting and we are raising the stakes. While Montgomery (knee) has been on short-term injury reserve, rookie Khailil Herbert has looked formidable taking over most of the replacement touches with Damien Williams suffering time and time again. The Bears should also think more about the future. knowing that Montgomery can look for a potential second round for his serves, which were excellent before the injury. This could be a game-changer for the Titans given that there is no guarantee that Henry will be the same in the future given his mileage until he turns 28 in January.
Trey’s sermon, 49ers
The 49ers kept their third-round pick and handed their backfield to sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell. They tried to give him a wake-up call to show the level of effort that Kyle Shahanan likes, but there is a lot of talent in former Oklahoma and Ohio State. San Francisco should already have big regrets wasting a pick, but Tennessee can help see if a change of scenery creates a change in attitude, given they would be given a key role. The Titans could give them a fourth round to get Sermon, who doesn’t see the ball at all, out of their hands.
Mike Davis, Falcons
Cordarrelle Patterson has taken his backfield by storm as a star hybrid player. Davis, who was a super-sub for Christian McCaffrey in Carolina last season, did not have the key opportunities as planned in former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s plan. The Titans can probably get it for a maximum fourth round as well.
MORE: Who’s Derrick Henry’s Replacement? Meet Jeremy McNichols
Tevin Coleman, Jets
Rookie Michael Carter is the man in the Jets backfield with his run and reception. Coleman has a hamstring injury again so he has very little appeal except that he can be secured for a seventh round.
Marlon Mack, Foals
Mack is the perfect power back for those needy teams and would love to be traded out of Jonathan Taylor’s shadow given his role narrowed down to a few occasional touches at the start. Problem is, he’s playing for the team who might now think they have a chance again in the AFC South, despite being swept away by the Titans because Henry is out. Indianapolis could help their rival but would likely increase the price of the draft pick by playing on their desperation.
Carlos Hyde, Jaguars
James Robinson (heel) appears to have avoided long-term injury against the Seahawks and Hyde, other than being a favorite of Urban Meyer, doesn’t offer much value in Jacksonville. But it’s been a good plug-and-play power return when needed on a variety of teams. It’s the Titans’ alternative to a cheap intra-divisional deal with the Texans.
Ty’Son Williams, Ravens
The Ravens initially liked Williams to help replace JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards. But he missed a lot of little things to help the offense, which tends to happen with otherwise talented young full-backs. Baltimore made it work in a combination of DeVonta Freeman and Le’Veon Beil, making Williams consumable. This is another cheap game for the Titans with the downside being the lack of experience.
Peyton Barber, Raiders
The Raiders may well operate their attack with Josh Jacobs and the Kenyan Drake. The question is, given that the Raiders are the AFC’s No.2 seed at the moment behind the Titans, if they would want to help a team with the same record and seed aspirations.
Melvin Gordon, Bronco
It would be the ultimate gain if Denver only achieves a) it’s not really a contender and b) can benefit by letting rookie Javonte Williams lose as a returning feature. Gordon is a pending free agent and is not in the Broncos’ 2022 plans because of Williams. They might as well speed up and move it now. They also have some influence over the Titans and can shoot a third round pick out of desperation given that Gordon is back healthy and playing well as a power back.