Derrick Henry is back, officially activated and set to start Saturday for the Tennessee Titans. Take out the hoopla of one of the NFL's best players making a dramatic return for the playoffs, and the King will be essentially back to normal in the Divisional Round versus the Bengals.
With one minor exception: "I have a big steel plate in my foot," Henry said this week.
That's right. The player who was an MVP candidate before breaking the fifth metatarsal in his foot and having surgery had a steel plate inserted into his foot. That's not all.
Henry is also expected to play this weekend with a metal plate in his shoe, similar to those that players who have turf toe wear. Added protection.
Why? Sources explained.
The metal plate is a modified orthotic to protect the foot from stress and stop it from flexing. It takes pressure off the repaired area to keep it safe while he's running and cutting. He can run without any reservations.
As for the plate, it's considered more secure and stable than simply inserting a screw into the repaired metatarsal. Henry actually has one plate and five screws in his foot.
Eleven weeks out from surgery, Henry is close to full go. The bone is almost completely healed, and it is considered strong enough to withstand the constant pressure he'll put on it today.
Henry hasn't played since Oct. 31, when he unknowingly broke his foot versus the Colts and still had 28 carries. Dr. Norman Waldrop and Dr. Lyle Cain at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center performed the surgery soon after and eyes were set on a return this season.
"This has never happened to me in my whole career," Henry said this week. "I was just like, 'Well, can't do nothing about it now.' Try to get surgery and start the recovery process and try to get back as quick as I can."
Henry is listed at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, and he's basically at his weight right now. After extensive rehab that included plenty of training and cardio work, he's in top physical form. One person who saw him in practice this week simply stated, "He looked great; you know he's a freak."
The hope is that the adrenaline from the return overwhelms any nerves or trepidation with being back. Henry won't be on a snap count, but they will keep an eye on him. Judging from the flow of the game, the Titans may have D'Onta Foreman play a slightly larger role than usual or at least spell Henry so it's not too many snaps in a row.
But basically, Henry is back.
"You definitely appreciate this game a lot more when you are away from it," Henry told reporters. "Being away from your teammates and having that comradery, going to work every day and going out and playing on Sundays each and every week, you definitely miss that. Just happy to be back."