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Ravens Feel Like a 'Breath of Fresh Air' for Derrick Henry

RB Derrick Henry
RB Derrick Henry

A mere photo of Lamar Jackson handing off the ball to Derrick Henry during the Ravens' Tuesday's minicamp practice elicited plenty of buzz online.

The combination of the best running quarterback and best running back in the NFL over the past six years has the NFL world drooling. For Henry, it has him exhaling.

Henry was in the crosshairs of every opponent during his time in Tennessee as the Titans' clear top offensive weapon. With a two-time MVP lined up alongside him, that won't be the case in Baltimore.

"It's going to be fun and a breath of fresh air not being the center of attention, knowing that eyes are going to be on him, as well," Henry said Tuesday.

Henry led the NFL in carries four of the past five seasons. He'll still have a heavy load in Baltimore. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken recently said he would “love” if Henry gets 300 carries this season.

Henry is working to be ready for whatever workload the Ravens hoist on his broad shoulders. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday that he believes that the now 30-year-old Henry can maintain a similar pace to what he had in Tennessee despite the wear and tear he's absorbed.

"I watched the wear and tear that he put on defenses, and ours included, over the years," Harbaugh said. "He's come out, he's in great shape, he's a stickler for details – knowing the plays – and he's moving really well, so I can't wait to see him in action.

"[Opponents will] have to defend [Henry] and Lamar the full width of the field. ... That's kind of the big-picture concept of it. When he runs down there, it's going to meaningful."

After eight seasons in Tennessee, Henry is enjoying being in a new place, both on and off the football field.

Baltimore will certainly use some of the same concepts that Tennessee deployed with Henry, but the terminology is different. That's what Henry said he's been working on most with help from Running Backs Coach Willie Taggart.

"Doing something new is always going to bring a challenge to it, but I embrace it. It's been fun learning," Henry said.

He's a running back who you want to get on a track and let him build up some speed before pummeling (and running through) the defense. The Ravens haven't seen that out of him on the practice fields yet because there's no contact, but they know it's coming.

"It's a lot more chill right now because it's OTAs, minicamp; he doesn't have on his pads, so this is not his strong suit," linebacker Roquan Smith said. "When he puts his pads on, that's when he becomes that demon."

Henry recently moved to the Dallas area, but the Cowboys decided not to pursue him even though he expected they would. Now in Baltimore, he's embracing it – including the free crab cakes for life that he was offered from Jimmy's Famous Seafood as a free agent.

"I love it. I ain't had a bad meal here yet. The food is good as hell," Henry said.

"Their crab cakes were good, as advertised. I don't know if I'm going to eat much during the season – I usually try to stay on a strict diet – but I might have one or two, depending on how I feel."

Opponents are going to get a heavy diet of the Henry-Jackson ground combo this season. They may not like that as much as Baltimore's seafood.

"I think [it's about] me just doing my job and executing, being efficient and everything that I do, so we help one another," Henry said of helping take pressure of Jackson's shoulders.

"My job is being explosive, making explosive runs, being a threat in the run game and anywhere else they ask me to help out this offense. So, it's just on me to focus on doing my job so I'm a threat to opposing defenses."

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