D_Foreman.jpg

D’Onta Foreman

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters on Monday that he has entertained the thought of running back Derrick Henry possibly returning to the Titans lineup this weekend.

But if it’s not broke, why fix it?

I say that tongue in cheek, of course. 

But with D’Onta Foreman breaking out for three 100-yard performances in his last five games and Dontrell Hilliard contributing 293 yards rushing and two touchdowns in seven games, surely the Titans can beat the 4-12 Houston Texans and their 32nd-ranked run defense in Week 18 with the combination of the two and allow Henry extra time to prepare for the playoffs.

“Those guys have been fantastic, especially the two backs,” Vrabel said. “Jeremy [McNichols] has his role, and he has been a constant for us, but Dontrell and D’Onta came in and studied. They are conscientious. [Running backs coach] Tony [Dews] gets them prepared for the football game and the scheme. I think the line is finishing and pushing piles. We talked about being the more physical team [against the Dolphins] and the one that makes the fewest number of mistakes, and that is what we did.”

While bringing Henry back into the fold is certainly enticing, both the star running back and the Titans would be better served waiting until the postseason instead of throwing him back into the fire just nine weeks after having surgery to fix his broken foot.

Despite piecing together a patchwork backfield since the start of November, the Titans still have the No. 4-ranked rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 142.5 yards per game. In the eight games without Henry, Tennessee has compiled 1,099 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns thanks to the combined efforts of Foreman, Hilliard, McNichols, Adrian Peterson and quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Foreman in particular has been a revelation for the Titans offense, rushing for 497 yards and three scores in eight games. The former University of Texas player set a career high with 132 yards in Sunday’s 34-3 win over the Miami Dolphins.

In fact, the fourth-year tailback has been so impressive that despite starting only two games this year, his 62.1 rush yards per game ranks 12th among running backs to play in eight or more games.

Foreman is also tied for 16th in the NFL in yards before contact and he ranks in the league’s top 20 in yards per rush (4.4).

“We had him last year and we are very comfortable with him,” Vrabel said. “He showed the ability to fit into our run scheme as well as hit some runs. He is a very good natural runner [and] catches the ball well. He has tried to improve. He runs hard. He is decisive. 

“I think probably the biggest thing that I am most proud of is he had the unfortunate fumble in New England after he broke through on a run," Vrabel added. "Same thing happened [Sunday against Miami], and you saw him protect the football as guys were coming from behind and trying to knock it out of there. All you can do is ask that players are aware of that, they understand they maybe made a mistake, and they are conscious of not making the same mistake twice. He had a great day for us [against Miami] and hopefully he will be able to continue to help us.”

While there’s no arguing the Titans are a significantly better team with Henry than without him, there is also no reason to bring the two-time NFL rushing champion back in Sunday’s regular season finale and risk him being anything less than 100 percent for Tennessee’s playoff run, potentially as the No. 1 seed.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_