NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)The Tennessee Titans have a lot of new players this season.
However, Derrick Henry remains the biggest constant for an offense that works best when he runs the ball.
The Titans spent the first month trying to click offensively with a new coordinator and a lot of new players. It didn’t help losing their starting left guard to an appendectomy the day before the second game.
With Henry turning in his best game this season and passing Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell for second on the franchise rushing list, the Titans put together their best offensive performance yet to climb to 2-2.
“A lot of good things to build off of,” Henry said after the Titans’ 27-3 rout of Cincinnati.
Henry set the franchise record with his 80th rushing TD in the second quarter. He then passed Campbell (8,574 yards rushing) for second all time early in the third quarter. With 8,620 yards rushing, Henry trails only Eddie George (10,009) for most in team history.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Henry’s important to the franchise. He also had a warning for a fellow Ohio State Buckeye alum in George: “Derrick’s coming for him.”
That might seem a bit much with Henry in the final year of his current deal and trailing George by 1,389 yards. Henry would have to average 106.8 yards the rest of the season to catch the four-time Pro Bowler.
He also became the seventh player since 1966 with 8,000 yards rushing and 80 rushing TDs within his first eight seasons. He joins Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson in that group.
The offense. Finally, new offensive coordinator Tim Kelly got to show off some creativity as the Titans had a season-high 400 yards, including 173 yards rushing. An offensive line that had given up 13 sacks through the first three games gave up only three to Cincinnati.
That gave Tannehill time to throw for 240 yards. He found Chris Moore for a 44-yarder and hit DeAndre Hopkins for a 38-yard completion – their longest connection yet.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Titans need to figure out how to score touchdowns in the first quarter. They had three TDs combined through the first three games, and they put together a nice drives in the first quarter of this game before having to settle for a field goal from Nick Folk.
Thanks to the veteran kicker acquired by trade, the Titans have three field goals for a grand total of nine points in the first quarter this season.
Hello Trevis Gipson. The linebacker made quite the impression in his Tennessee debut with the fourth strip-sack of his career in the third quarter, stripping Joe Burrow of the ball. It was Gipson’s 11th career sack, and he is tied for the 11th-most strip-sacks with four since the start of the 2021 season.
Xavier Newman. The guard started at left guard trying to replace Peter Skoronski and lasted one quarter in Week 2 before being pulled. The Titans waived him Monday along with WR Mason Kinsey, called up from the practice squad because of injuries to a pair of returners.
Rookie tight end Josh Whyle couldn’t finish the game with an injured ankle. Vrabel said Monday that Skoronski, the 11th overall draft pick in April, should practice in the next step of his recovery. The Titans also designated WR Kyle Philips (knee) to return to practice while on injured reserve.
Offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere now is available with the NFL shortening his suspension for gambling by two games. He earned the starting right tackle job as a rookie last season, but Vrabel said they need to see where Petit-Frere is physically and hopefully will get a roster exemption for him.
11-2: Titans’ record when playing in October since 2020, and their .846 winning percentage in this month is best in the NFL in that span.
The Titans visit Indianapolis (2-2) for their first AFC South game this season Sunday, then pack for a “home” game in London against Baltimore. With their bye Oct. 22, they won’t play in Nashville again until Oct. 29 when they host Atlanta.
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