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Running Royalty. Slowing King Henry key to Broncos pulling off upset

Henry owns 763 yards, 8 TDs over his last six games
Derrick Henry
Posted at 5:29 PM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-10 19:52:36-05

ENGLEWOOD — Many things conjure images of Derrick Henry. An 18-wheeler, a World War II tank, a rolling bowling ball of knives.

Henry is running back royalty. In a league that loves passing more than breathing, King Henry reigns supreme on the ground. He is listed at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds. Essentially, he is Von Miller, but faster with a stiff arm that snatches souls and crushes dreams.

Any chance of the Broncos delivering an upset on Sunday rests on their ability to harness the game's top brute. Buckle up.

"I definitely consider him the best running back. The key is 11 men to the ball. Don't let him get to the second level. Gang tackle," Broncos run-stuffing nose guard D.J. Jones said. "It's about containing him as much as we can. It's hard. He's a great player. We have to do our jobs."

A blueprint exists. But executing it is challenging. Look for the Broncos to feature eight-men-in-the-box looks, daring the Titans to pass with a compromised Ryan Tannehill (he's trending toward playing after sitting out with a sprained ankle) or rookie Malik Willis. Whoever plays, the Titans won't throw much. They average 136 yards per game, ranked 31st in the league.

The Titans go as Henry goes. When he rushes for 100 yards, they boast a 29-4 record, including a 2020 opening night win over the Broncos. However, Henry he has struggled overall against the Broncos, collecting 186 yards on 58 carries for 3.21 per clip and no touchdowns.

"You just can't get tired doing your job," said new Broncos outside linebacker Jacob Martin, who watched Henry blitz Houston when he was a member of the Texans. "It doesn't take talent to defense the run. It takes physicality and discipline. They thrive off the run and will capitalize on little mistakes, like being out of place in your gaps. You have to be consistent in your technique. That's how you win against a team like this."

Henry, who boasts 763 yards and eight touchdowns over his last six games, is bigger than any other back. He has long arms and Teenage Mutant Ninja legs. Tackling him is not for the meek. It requires total buy in and selling out with balance, strength — and help.

"We have to make sure we are gap sound and do our part. And trust the guy next to you to do his job," said Broncos defensive end Dre'Mont Jones, whose Denver team is allowing 122.6 yards per game on the ground. "We have to rally. You need three guys on him at all times. He's a (heck) of a running back."

Tennessee wants a wrestling match. They average 18.6 points per game. The Broncos counter at 15.1. This has all the hallmarks of an in-the-mud, low-scoring, bare-knuckle brawl. Henry sets the tone.

"I think I can speak for everybody that this feels like a playoff game a bit. We are in the hunt. We have a chance to go on a run," Dre'Mont Jones said. "We know we have to take every game as serious as (hell)."

Receiver K.J. Hamler (hamstring) will not play Sunday, per a source. He hurt his leg running go routes in Wednesday's practice. Montrell Washington is a possible replacement along with Jalen Virgil. ...

Tight end Andrew Beck was added to the injury list with a hamstring issue. ...

A Dwayne Stukes quote is getting some national run. The Broncos special teams coach was asked about the team's embarrassing delay of game on a kickoff vs. Jacksonville. He said a player was missing because he was eating a hot dog. It was a figure of a speech. He meant a player wasn’t paying attention. No one was eating a hot dog.