NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Derrick Henry says it was “shocking” having to deal with the first injury of his career during the season. The 2020 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year is just happy to be back practicing with the Tennessee Titans.

Just in time for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against Cincinnati.

Henry talked Wednesday for the first time since breaking his right foot Oct. 31. The injury cost him the final nine games of the regular season. The NFL’s 2019 and 2020 rushing leader was leading the league again before he was hurt, and he still finished the season ninth with 937 yards.

“It was the first time that I got injured during the season and had to miss, you know, the rest of the season, so it was definitely different …,” Henry said. “Just glad that I was able to get through it and had my support system and happy to be back.”

Henry said he appreciates everyone who helped him get to this point. The Titans (12-5) started the 21-day window for Henry to practice with the team Jan. 5, and they also gave him an extra week to work himself closer to game shape by earning the AFC’s first-round bye as the No. 1 seed.

The Titans still have to activate Henry by Friday afternoon. Will he play Saturday?


“See how this week goes, and we’ll see where I’m at on Saturday,” Henry said.

Henry says the only difference now between his left and right foot is the steel plate that remains in his right foot. Asked about rust from being out, Henry says he’s doing everything he can to be ready for kickoff with the work on the practice field.

“That’s where it starts,” Henry said. “Trying to work hard, trying to be the best I can be, the best player I can be for this team and try to contribute best I can.”

EAGLES: The Philadelphia Eagles say Jalen Hurts will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2022.

“We talk about Jalen and the growth he had, really as a first-year starter and second-year player, and leading this team to the playoffs,” General Manager Howie Roseman said, just three days after a 31-15 loss at Tampa Bay in the wild-card round.

“I’m tremendously impressed by his work ethic and his leadership. The last time we talked was during camp and we said we wanted to see him take the bull by the horn, and he certainly did that.”


The Eagles have the 15th, 16th and 19th overall selections in the 2022 draft, including their own pick, Miami’s and one from the Colts.

Roseman indicated that instead of using one of those picks to obtain a quarterback, the team will look to use its assets to build around Hurts.

“We have to do whatever we can to continue to help him develop,” Roseman said. “And how do we do that? By surrounding him with really good players, players who continue to grow. That’s a huge part of developing, they grow. How they are in their second year is not how they are going to be in year four, five, six and seven. And they are also products of the people around them. That’s on us to continue to build this team.”

BROWNS: Baker Mayfield has shifted into comeback mode.

The Browns quarterback had surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, an injury that affected his play, led to a disappointing season and raised doubts about his future in Cleveland.

Mayfield posted a video on social media following the procedure, which was done in Los Angeles.


“Surgery went great,” Mayfield said in the clip while sitting on a bed with his non-throwing arm in a sling. “It was a complete success. Had a great medical team. Took care of me and checked that box off to get this fixed, and now it’s on the way to the road to recovery.

“This is one of those steps to get back to my true self.”

The operation was performed by Dr. Orr Limpisvasti, the team physician for the Anaheim Ducks who examined Mayfield’s shoulder during the season.

Mayfield, who only missed one game, will need up to six months of rehab but is expected to be fully recovered by the time the Browns hold offseason workouts – assuming, of course, he’s still with the team.

The Browns said they anticipate Mayfield will begin “light throwing” in April.

“Now it’s on the way to the road to recovery,” he said. “It’s not going to be an easy one, but it’s going to be one that I’m going to remember, and it’s going to be a special one.”


STEELERS: Mason Rudolph understands the baggage he carries. Dwayne Haskins, too.

The next seven months give the two Pittsburgh quarterbacks a chance to shed the weight. For the first time in nearly a generation, the starting gig in the city they play for is up for grabs after Ben Roethlisberger all but confirmed he is retiring after 18 seasons.

And the two players who will get first crack at replacing the likely future Hall of Famer – one a 2019 first-round pick trying to recover from an embarrassing flameout (Haskins), the other’s pro career to this point defined by a brawl that ended with him getting hit in the head with his own helmet – understand the stakes.

“There’s still question marks on my game,” Rudolph said. “I want to serve this role and I want to prove myself to my teammates, the guys that I really care about.”

Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin stressed in the aftermath of a first-round blowout loss to Kansas City that finished off a wildly uneven 9-7-1 season that “all options” are on the table as the Steelers try to create a path forward without the player that spent nearly two decades as the face of one of the NFL’s most consistent franchises.

Maybe, but Rudolph and Haskins will be given every opportunity to prove they can handle being a full-time starter. Rudolph’s resume so far is spotty. He’s 5-4-1 while filling in for Roethlisberger over the past three seasons, and his lone extended appearance this season came in a brutal 16-all tie with then-winless Detroit in which he threw for 242 yards with a touchdown and an interception while struggling with his accuracy.


At least he saw the field. Haskins didn’t take a snap and spent game days on the sideline in a sweatshirt after being made inactive.

The 24-year-old insists it was an experience he needed after his brief but tumultuous time in Washington, which cut him in December 2020 less than two years after taking him with the 15th overall pick.

“Having to play early (in Washington), I never had a chance to learn the NFL game the way it should be done and the way the Steelers wanted done,” Haskins said. “It gave me an opportunity to understand the ‘Steelers Way’ and how they wanted their quarterbacks to operate.”

Even if the way Tomlin will ask his quarterbacks to operate going forward will be different than what was asked of Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh’s offense during his final seasons was predicated on short, quick throws designed to get the ball out of Roethlisberger’s hands in an effort to protect him behind a shaky offensive line.

The game has changed since Roethlisberger took over for an injured Tommy Maddox in Week 2 of the 2004 season. The Steelers play in a division that features one quarterback who can make magic with his feet (Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson) and another who can escape pressure when things break down (Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow).

Whoever is behind center for Pittsburgh in 2022 will need to be able to move. Maybe not with the quickness of Jackson, but a facsimile of what Burrow does would go a long way to diversifying a playbook that looked awfully stale at times under first-year coordinator Matt Canada.


Whether the issue was the game plan or the personnel that had the Steelers drop into the bottom half of the league in nearly every major category this season is up for debate. Canada’s job, at least at the moment, appears safe after Tomlin appeared to offer a tacit if tepid endorsement for giving him another shot at calling the plays.

Neither Haskins nor Rudolph will be confused with Jackson. Yet they also have more life in their legs than the 39-year-old Roethlisberger, a valuable commodity considering the 2022 starting quarterback will be playing behind a line that could look an awful lot like the one that had issues protecting Roethlisberger this season.

Haskins spent most of the season running the scout team during practice, meaning he had to do the occasional Burrow, Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers impression.

“(Tomlin) is looking for a guy that can move around in the pocket the way young Ben (Roethlisberger) was,” Haskins said.

Yet the job also carries more responsibility than just being able to throw it and being able to run it. Leadership is part of the equation, and both players have work to do on that front.

The scars of Rudolph’s infamous run-in with Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett in 2019 still run deep, part of a bumpy intro to the NFL in which Rudolph was benched for undrafted rookie free agent Devlin Hodges, then saw his season end because of a shoulder injury.

“I think that’s the most adversity I’ve ever had in a season in my life,” Rudolph said. “It happened within a span of 10 weeks and I think I’m a better man for what happened to me that year. I’ve been hardened. My skin’s been thickened.”

Haskins believes his has too after Washington cut ties with him so quickly. There were concerns about his maturity at the time, concerns he believes he’s alleviated during his year in Pittsburgh.

“I definitely feel like I can be a starter in this league,” said Haskins, who went 3-10 in Washington. “I got drafted for that reason. I really believe I have the talent to. I believe I can play with the best of them. I really just haven’t put it all together yet. And I know I have to do that if I want to put myself in a position to play.”

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