After all my earlier disappointment with the Titans for using their second-round draft pick on a running back, I’m now looking for the positives that may come from this move.
I remind myself that while the Titans certainly needed to shore up their defense, a good running game can be a defense’s best friend, not to mention a young quarterback’s best friend as well. In one game last year the Titans’ defensive coaches voted Travis Henry as their defensive player of the game. All he did was have another of his strong rushing games which consumed minutes off the clock and kept the defense off the field.
Now that Henry is no longer here, someone will have to fill that void, which LenDale White isn’t capable of doing alone.
The Titans seem to be convinced that Chris Henry (no relation to Travis) will be the answer. They aren’t concerned about his relative lack of production at Arizona, saying it was due to the system he was in.
I’m not sure if I buy all of that, but one Arizona official agreed, predicting Henry would have a bright NFL future.
I do like some of the things Jeff Fisher and running backs coach Sherman Smith said about him in a post-draft press conference.
“We feel like Chris is an every down back,” said Fisher. “He can play first-down, second-down and he can also do the things for us on third-down. Hes got excellent hands. Hes a very high character player. He has exceptional speed and good change of direction. He doesnt have the stats, doesnt have the numbers at the University of Arizona. We did the research and we’re satisfied why that happened, but we’re confident that he will have the stats and numbers at this level.”
“As Jeff said, we did our homework, talking to the coaching staff there, talking to other people,” said Smith. “As I related to the coaches, quite clearly, the kid had the ability; it was the system that kept him from being productive. As we worked him out you could see the power, the explosion, the quickness, and the hands. Man how come you’re not playing? So I talked to the strength coach and the strength coach laid it out real clear. He said this kid put up with a lot the past three years. He kept it together. He worked hard in practice. When he got an opportunity, he did the best he could, but it was a system in which he really had to endure some hardships.”
This part came as a real shocker:
We had actually considered and discussed the possibility of taking Chris Henry in the first round, Fisher said. “Only because of what we saw on tape and what Sherman (Smith) saw at his private workout in Tucson and of course the (NFL) combine workout and the interviews.”
With all of these good things being said about Henry, it raises the level of my expectations of him. I hope he and White will provide a strong running game, keeping the defense off the field for longer periods of time and giving Vince Young some help on offense.
But I’m still not too sure that this was a good move and I’m not about to jump on any bandwagon and proclaim it was. On the other hand, Henry deserves a chance to prove himself worthy of the selection.
Let’s wait and see what Henry does on the field before making any preliminary judgments on his ability.