On Oct. 30, Derrick Henry was at the Houston Texans’ beck and call.
The three-time Pro Bowl runningback rushed for 219 yards with two touchdowns and 32 carries, as the Tennessee Titans smothered Texans 17-10 at NRG Stadium.
Lovie Smith, coach of the Texans, believes Henry should be contained by the Texans in the Dec. 24, rematch. This is for one simple reason.
“We’re healthier,” Smith said. “Did we have all our guys the first time around? It is not the right answer. Maliek Collins didn’t play. So, we had a few things like that.”
No matter who plays — even J.J. Watt — Henry has his way with the Texans defense. Henry has rushed at least 200 yards in each of his four previous games against the Texans. Henry, the former 2019 and 2020 NFL rushing champ, missed the games against the Texans. It can be argued that this may have been why Houston was able pull off the upset at Nissan Stadium.
However, Smith isn’t simply hoping that the availability of injured players will be the factor; the rookies and younger defenders who have been given opportunities throughout the season have to step up.
“Christian Harris is older,” said Smith. “Some of the younger players that were playing then, they’ve played a lot more football. We feel like we’ll be healthier starting with that.”
Former Texans running back Dontrell Hilliard was also able to have his way with Houston’s defense as he carried eight times for 83 yards, 51 of which he gained on two carries on Tennessee’s first drive of the third quarter.
“We didn’t play our best ball last time, and we’re playing better football right now,” Smith said.
The last time the Texans were held to less than 100 rushing yards against an opponent was Week 12 against Miami Dolphins when they had 66.