Second-year running back Derrick Henry missing time at OTAs for the Tennessee Titans is nothing of significance.
Each year, some NFL team has a player or two miss some time at their OTAs — Organized Training Activities — and media and fans go crazy. Why isn’t so-and-so here? and He’s not dedicated they rant and scream.
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It happened year after year, for example, in Pittsburgh as All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu routinely skipped all of the OTAs each year. He preferred to work out on his own, with his own trainers.
Two weeks ago, a big ruckus was raised when Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry skipped the opening week of OTAs. Teammate Jurrell Casey even said it counted as a mark against Henry in his book. There were the usual questions about his dedication and whether perhaps he was out of shape.
Turns out, Henry was back in Alabama working on finishing his college degree. And, he showed up last week in excellent shape.
“He looks great, is moving well and seems to be in very good shape for this time of the year,” Titans running backs coach Sylvester Croom told titansonline.com. “It’s obvious he’s been doing a whole lot of work in the time he’s been away. There is no problem with Derrick. The guy was in school, he is here now, and he is working. So we are moving forward from there.”
Head coach Mike Mularkey had no issue with Henry not being at OTAs when they opened. They are, after all, optional. And in the first week, coaches aren’t even permitted to work with the players in these optional workouts. The first two weeks of OTAs are for strength and conditioning training only. Coaches can take the field with the players in Phase Two, which is what is now happening across the league.
Henry, it seems, didn’t miss anything important. And, while some might not think so, including his teammate, finishing his degree is a pretty important thing. Much like Polamalu wasn’t going to really gain anything by attending a spring coaching session — especially later in his career — there’s also not a lot to be gained by a running back.
When the 2017 season begins, Henry will get the ball and hit open holes, much as he did as a rookie last season. And Casey and the others will forget all about him not being around for a week in April.