NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Travis Henry started this season wanting to make a big comeback. It’s safe to say the Tennessee running back has accomplished nearly everything he sought.

Even if not many people are paying attention.

The six-year veteran running back should be a top candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year for reviving his career after two subpar seasons at a position where fresh talent floods the league every year.

Henry has rushed for 1,109 yards and seven touchdowns this season for the Tennessee Titans despite starting only 12 of the last 13 games and not playing in two of the first four games. And Henry still has one game left to reach the 1,300-yard goal he set for himself before the season.

But the only players he hears as top candidates for the award he wanted to win are quarterbacks such as Drew Brees of New Orleans and Chad Pennington of the New York Jets, or tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.

“I haven’t heard my name mentioned in that category because I guess I wasn’t hurt. But that’s what I wanted to do. Winning that was one of my goals,” Henry said Thursday.

Regardless of who wins that honor, Henry has achieved his top goal – reviving his NFL career.

The man passed by in Buffalo after the Bills drafted Willis McGahee ran for only 326 yards in his final season with that team in 2004. He got the fresh start he wanted with a trade to Tennessee in July 2005.

But he struggled to recover from torn ligaments in his ankle and was suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He finished with 335 yards all season.

That could have been the end for the back who left the University of Tennessee as the school’s all-time leading rusher, a mark he still owns.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said typically the running back position is given a year, 18 months to come back from something.

“People have to move on,” Fisher said. “That’s one position that you absolutely have to have depth, which we do this year. We went in Travis’ favor just because of what he was able to do for us.”

Henry spent the offseason working out with the Titans and on his own with an ex-college teammate. He got himself back into shape, and he worked on making himself better in pass protection, his biggest weakness.

Chris Brown held the starting job for three of the first four games. Henry got his first start at Miami and ran for 60 yards. But he was deactivated for the second time in a loss to Dallas.

Fisher started Henry on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis, and Henry ran for 123 yards. That was the first of his five 100-yard rushing performances this season, and he had a career-high 178 yards in the Titans’ first win at Washington.

His 1,109 yards rushing are the most for this team since Eddie George had 1,165 yards in 2002, and he is the ninth running back in franchise history to have a 1,000-yard season. He has had his three longest runs this season with a 70-yarder, a 43-yarder and a 33-yarder.That doesn’t count a 57-yarder erased by penalty in last week’s 30-29 victory at Buffalo.

New England coach Bill Belichick, whose teams must try to slow down Henry on Sunday, said the Titans’ rushing offense is as good as he’s seen all season.

“Travis, we know him from Buffalo. He’s a great back, he’s got good vision, he runs hard and he breaks a lot of tackles,” Belichick said.

Henry became the 100th player in NFL history to reach 5,000 yards rushing in his career with a 33-yard run against the Colts on Dec. 3, and this is his third 1,000-yard season. He ranks sixth among the AFC’s rushing leaders.

Fisher said Henry has a future with the Titans, even though they drafted LenDale White in the second round earlier this year. That sounds good to Henry, who’s enjoying the Titans’ amazing turnaround from 0-5 to 8-7.

“We’re winning, having fun, so that’s all that matters,” Henry said.

AP-ES-12-28-06 1802EST

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