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Five Takeaways From Derrick Henry's Introductory Press Conference

RB Derrick Henry
RB Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry arrived at the Under Amour Performance Center in a purple suit, dressed to impress.

After eight seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Henry was clearly excited for his next chapter in Baltimore.

Here are the top takeaways from his introductory press conference:

Baltimore didn't draft the Heisman Trophy-winning Alabama running back in 2016, but Henry becoming a Raven felt like a long time coming.

As if Henry's 195 rushing yards and passing touchdown in the Ravens' 2019 playoff loss to the Titans wasn't enough, General Manager Eric DeCosta said he took notice of how players gravitated to Henry at the 2019 Pro Bowl a couple weeks later.

"That resonated with me as a guy who scouts for a living, and having the chance to kind of step aside and watch his career unfold, it's been very impressive to me," DeCosta said.

DeCosta confirmed that he tried to trade for Henry at last year's trade deadline and he thought there was a "reasonable chance" that it would get it done. When it didn't, and the Ravens were eliminated in the AFC Championship, both sides were left wondering what could've been.

It became clear that the Titans and Henry were both ready to move on, and Henry had his eyes on Baltimore the whole time. He had already envisioned himself as a Raven after the trade fell through, and now was his chance to make it happen as a free agent.

"It really was a no brainer for me. This is where I knew where I wanted to be," Henry said. "I love the style [and] the physicality that they play with on all three phases. I feel like it fits my style of play as well."

Henry wanted to team up with Lamar Jackson … and other Ravens.

Henry has yet to talk to Lamar Jackson since signing with the Ravens, but it's clear that the two Florida natives have a natural connection and respect for each other.

"Lamar's so dynamic in how he plays, and his playmaking ability, especially me seeing it going against these guys for a little while now. So, [I'm] excited to play with him," Henry said. "He had a great year this year, did a lot of great things."

Despite Henry's credentials as a four-time Pro Bowler, he was also modest and made sure to also shout out the other players in the Ravens offense, including in the running back room. It's not just the Jackson-Henry show.

"We have a lot of great guys in the offense, and I just want to be an added piece to this offense to help them do better than they did last year," Henry said. "Right now, [I'm] just trying to focus on coming earning respect from my teammates."

The league is not kind to 30-year-old running backs, but Henry isn't buying into that notion.

He understands there will be questions based on history, but there's a reason why he's been so productive for so long already, despite his size and heavy workloads in high school, college, and the pros.

"Tell them to keep watching," Henry said. "People are always going to have something to say. They're always going to have opinions. I'm just here ready to work, ready to get things started, do my best to help this organization."

Henry said his key to longevity has been body maintenance, diet, and hard work.

The Ravens know they need more blockers for Henry.

Henry had the second-most yards after contact in the league last season, running behind a Titans offensive line that finished last in the league in Pro Football Focus’ rankings.

Put Henry behind an upgraded Baltimore offensive line and he should be even more dangerous.

The Ravens know they still have work to do on that front, however, with three of the five starting spots open. Baltimore traded right tackle Morgan Moses to the Jets, left guard John Simpson signed with the Jets, and right guard Kevin Zeitler is a free agent.

Baltimore made it clear at the start of the offseason that it was going to "rebuild" the offensive line. So far, it's been the tear down portion. There's still plenty of time for the building phase.

"That will be the mission in the coming weeks to build that out," DeCosta said. "I think we're on our way. We have a good plan. We're fortunate that this draft class is pretty good from that standpoint. I don't want to call it historically strong, but it looks like a very strong crop of offensive linemen.

"I say this every year, but as a wise man once said, 'We don't play games until September. We'll be ready.'"

Henry will have help in the backfield, as Keaton Mitchell is making strong progress.

Henry will be the Ravens' lead runner in 2024, but he won't be alone.

DeCosta again spoke highly of Justice Hill as the team's "unsung hero" down the stretch and gave a positive health update on Keaton Mitchell, who suffered a major knee injury in the Ravens' win in Jacksonville on Dec. 17.

"I think Keaton [Mitchell] is doing really well. We'll see. Obviously, [it was a] significant knee injury, but we have some experience with that," DeCosta said.

"I've gotten some updates from our trainers and doctors, and we feel like he's on path to come back at some point this season."

DeCosta said he will continue to assess the running back market and said there are still some "pretty interesting" players available. Former Raven J.K. Dobbins tops the list and DeCosta also referenced the draft.

"We've drafted guys, we've signed undrafted free agents, we've traded for running backs, and there are a lot of ways to skin the cat, so to speak," DeCosta said. "The cupboard's not bare. We got this guy, so I think we're in good shape."

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