Tennessee Titans star running back Derrick Henry was complimentary of his teammates in the backfield after the second and final day of joint practices Thursday at Saint Thomas Sports Park with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Henry, whose work was limited to individual drills the last two days, praised fourth-round rookie Hassan Haskins for “growing in all aspects” and highlighted the versatility of veteran Dontrell Hilliard, who he says has been a leader in the running back room.
Haskins and Hilliard, who had 56 carries for 350 yards and two touchdowns for the Titans last season, are expected to be Tennessee’s top backup tailbacks.
“Every day he comes out here wanting to get better, taking it from the meeting to the practice field and the walk throughs,” Henry said of Haskins. “He’s trying to be as detailed as possible and then as practice goes on, you see how much he’s getting better. In the first preseason game, I thought he and Julius (Chestnut) did a great job of listening and asking questions.”
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“He’s just very smart,” Henry added on Hilliard. “He’s good in the passing game. Good runner as well. But you have to be smart to understand all that, the concepts and everything. He’s a good leader. We both try to help the young guys as much as we can. I’m glad to have him.”
After practice, Henry chatted at length with fellow Alabama alum Julio Jones, who played with Tennessee last season before his release in March. The wide receiver was signed by the Buccaneers in July.
Henry said it was good to catch up with Jones but acknowledged that he doesn’t see Jones wearing No. 85 for the Buccaneers heading into the season.
“I don’t think that fits him,” Henry said, smiling, “but I think he’ll fix it once the roster is set and things like that.”
The two-time Pro Bowler also talked at length about his work in the sandpit. He spent time there during team drills Thursday.
“I think that’s why coach (Mike) Vrabel has me on this plan,” Henry said. “So that when it’s time to go, I’m ready to go. When they need me to answer, I’m there to answer. Whether it’s the first quarter, second, third or fourth.”
Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.