Titans star Derrick Henry: There’s nobody like Detroit Lions’ Adrian Peterson

Detroit Free Press

Paul Skrbina
| Nashville Tennessean

Derrick Henry stiff-armed the question before it was completed.

“Don’t do it,” he repeated twice with a grin. “No.”

The Titans running back thought he was going to be asked to compare himself to Adrian Peterson, whom Henry and the Titans (9-4) will see Sunday (noon, CBS) in their regular-season home finale at Nissan Stadium against the Detroit Lions (5-8).

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Instead, an inquiring mind wanted to know what Henry made of the rare 2,000-yard rushing season, being that he’s 468 shy with three games remaining. Being that the last man to accomplish the feat happens to be Peterson, who did it in 2012.

Henry has deflected talk of his own pursuit in favor of talking about winning. But he did seem to be rehearsing for a possible upcoming speech should he reach a number only seven others — O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Jamal Lewis, Chris Johnson and Peterson — have.

“That’s a great milestone,” Henry said. “Not many have done it. I’m sure the backs that have done it would give a lot of thanks to their teammates, O-line, all the guys blocking. Couldn’t have done it without them, the coaching staff. It takes everyone.”

Just because the rest of the NFL’s running backs are looking up to Henry when it comes to numbers, that doesn’t mean Henry hasn’t looked up himself. The star is capable of being star struck. 

While Henry was a big LaDainian Tomlinson fan growing up, Peterson hardly went unnoticed.

“I think every kid was a fan of Adrian Peterson,” Henry said. “I know I was coming up. High school, even in college. Adrian and Marshawn (Lynch) were the top two for awhile. But big AP fan. The longevity in his career is amazing. To keep being able to have production. He’s a Hall of Famer. Everyone is a big fan of AP.”

The three-time rushing champion and 2012 MVP’s best days are no doubt his yesterdays. But at 35 years old, he still commands the respect he’s earned on the field throughout his 14-year career. He won the rushing title in 2012, after tearing his left ACL and MCL in 2011. He did so again in 2015 after playing just one game the season before after serving a suspension for being charged with felony child abuse.

Henry said he isn’t interested in Peterson comparisons. He just appreciates him for the football player he has been.

“I don’t think there’s anybody like Adrian Peterson,” Henry said. “When you say, ‘generational talent,’ I think he’s the perfect running back or player to use that term with. … There’s plenty of highlights you can pick from ‘All Day’s’ game. … I think the biggest was he came back after tearing his ACL, ran for 2,000, MVP. There’s not many people that can do that. Him coming back and tearing the league up, that speaks volumes of the type of player he is.”

Henry knows a thing or two about tearing a league up. He also knows a thing or two about looking up. On Sunday he’ll see one of his football idols on the other sideline and take it for what it is.

He’s just not really looking at 2,000 yards, at least among his top priorities.

Reach Paul Skrbina at pskrbina@tennessean.com and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.

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