While Tennessee’s brass waits for MRI results to confirm the next steps in Henry’s rehabilitation process, it’s likely they’ll also be on the phone weighing trade options to add to their backfield.
With second-year running back Darrynton Evans already on season-ending injured reserve, fifth-year Boise State back Jeremy McNichols is the obvious candidate to replace Henry, at least initially. McNichols has played 145 offensive snaps and rushed for 38 yards on seven carries this season. But McNichols alone won’t be enough.
Here are six trade targets for the Titans ahead of the Nov. 2 trade deadline.
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The Texans have already traded away one running back, reuniting veteran Mark Ingram II with the New Orleans Saints. And Ingram got off to a hot start with his “new” team Sunday, recording 24 rushing yards on six carries with 4.0 yards after contact per attempt.
Even if Houston were to move on from Johnson or Lindsay, Rex Burkhead handled a season-high four rushing attempts in garbage time against the Los Angeles Rams and looks to be 100% healthy from the torn ACL that ended his 2020 season. Burkhead played 30 offensive snaps in Week 8, twice as many as the next-closest Texans back.
Undrafted free agent Scottie Phillips also led the backfield with five rushing attempts on the day, clearly signaling that Johnson and Lindsay are available.
Johnson has 29 rushes for 108 yards on the season, with 72 of those yards coming after contact to go along with 20 receptions and an average of 6.3 yards after the catch per reception.
Lindsay is a more one-dimensional player as a downhill runner, but that fits with Derrick Henry’s general involvement in the offense. In total, 81.0% of his rushing yards have come after contact, seventh among running backs on the season.
Either player is an option for a Titans team desperate for help at the position. The potential snag here is that the Houston Texans play in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans, but that really shouldn’t matter to Houston at this point in the season.
Lombardi Lenny leads all Buccaneers running backs in offensive snaps played (294), and no other back has played more than 100 snaps entering Week 9. Veteran Giovanni Bernard is likely locked in as the Bucs’ passing-down back with his team-high 55 offensive snaps played on third down, leaving Jones or Vaughn as likely candidates to get shipped to Tennessee if both parties are indeed interested.
Vaughn, a second-year back out of Vanderbilt, has played just eight snaps on the season and 119 in his career. The 5-foot-10, 218-pounder has 36 career rush attempts for 157 yards (101 yards after contact).
Jones is the more experienced back and likely a more intriguing option for Tennessee, considering that he has 527 career carries and rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2020 at 4.9 yards per carry. This season, however, has been a bit bleak for Jones, as he’s rushed for just 194 yards on 44 carries and earned a 56.3 PFF grade with just three forced missed tackles.
Ronald Jones vs. Ke’Shawn Vaughn: PFF rushing stats (2021)
|Metric||Ronald Jones||Ke’Shawn Vaughn|
|Yards after contact||104||20|
|Yards after contact per attempt||2.4||4.0|
|Missed tackles forced||3||3|
|PFF rushing grade||56.3||74.3|
The market for Penny is likely dismal, but he’s an obvious candidate to be moved, given Chris Carson’s role in the Seattle offense and the fact that he’d be made available for pennies on the dollar.
Of course, Carson is still on the injured reserve with a neck injury that could keep him sidelined through the end of the season, meaning Penny could stay put in Seattle as a backup to veteran Alex Collins.
Penny recorded just 15 carries for 24 yards across 38 offensive snaps in Week 8. He’s also never handled more than 89 carries in a single season since coming off the board in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He has earned a 65.5 PFF grade over his career.
New York Jets rookie running back Michael Carter enjoyed a breakout Week 8 performance in a big win over the Cincinnati Bengals, setting a career-high in rushing yards with 77 on 15 attempts — good for 5.1 yards per attempt.
Carter’s five missed tackles forced on rushes in Week 8 was second to only Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, and he also led all players with five more missed tackles on his nine receptions for 95 yards.
This backfield belongs to Carter and Ty Johnson, who earned a 90.9 receiving grade in Week 8 with his five receptions for 71 yards that featured 76 yards after the catch. Johnson now has 136 receiving yards with 135 yards after the catch over the last two weeks.
Veteran Tevin Coleman has seen little action this season, earning a 59.4 overall grade on just 40 snaps. Nevertheless, he’s a versatile player who has a lot of experience learning new playbooks over the last few years and could fill in quickly for the Titans.