Where other Alabama running backs have flamed out in the NFL, the Tennessee Titans Derrick Henry and Oakland Raiders Josh Jacobs are burning brightly. The pair of former ‘Bama backs most definitely beckon attention.
Henry, at 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, is the ideal height-weight-speed player late-great Raiders owner Al Davis coveted. The Titans beast back has 1,140 yards (3rd in the NFL) with 11 touchdowns (tied for 3rd in the league) on 232 carries (4th most).
Jacobs, at 5-10 and 220 pounds, is the rookie phenom that is equal parts elusive and power. The Raiders bellcow has 1,061 yards (5th in the league) with 7 TDs (tied for 9th) on 218 carries (8th).
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Both Henry and Jacobs are the heart and soul of their respective team’s ground attack.
- Henry’s total yardout output (1,340) accounts for nearly 34 percent of Tennessee’s 3,957 total. (Henry represents nearly 76 percent of the team’s total 1,505 rushing yards).
- Jacobs’ total yardage output (1,207) accounts for 28 percent of Oakland’s 4,257 total. (Jacobs is 72 percent of the team’s 1,427 rushing yards).
In this upcoming Sunday matchup, Henry faces the Raiders 11th-ranked run defense (in terms of yards allowed 1,243 yards). Flip the coin and Jacobs draws the Titans 10th-ranked run D (1,224).
Oakland will have its hands full trying to stymie or remotely contain Henry. The three-game stretch the 25-year-old is coming off of is absolutely impressive and terrifying, all at the same time: 188 yards, 2 TDs against the Chiefs; 159 yards, 2 scores vs. Jacksonville and 149 yards and an end zone trip against the Colts.
“I think the secret sauce in Henry is he’s got all the talent and size and running instincts, but he never tires,” Raiders boss Jon Gruden said during his mid-week presser. “He’s a machine, man. You’ve got to gang tackle him. The more they give him the ball, the better he gets. … An impressive human being.”
Tennessee, on the other hand, will contend with a young running back who is hard to bring down after initial contact.
While not as ravishing as Henry’s three-game numbers, Jacobs is still productive — even with an ailing shoulder: 112 yards against the Bengals; 34 yards against the Jets and 104 yards against the Chiefs. Jacobs hasn’t scored since the Chargers tilt.
“I think he’s very dynamic. He’s got great vision, great quickness,” Titans head honcho Mike Vrabel said. “They commit to running it almost 28 times a game, and they got a big, strong, physical line that seems to have embraced that challenge. They’ve run it 10 more times than us. I told our team, ‘If you think we run it, they run it 10 more times than we have.’”
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