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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson

EAGLES-TITANS PREVIEW: HENRY IS STILL A HANDFUL


Titans running back Derrick Henry in a game against the Eagles in 2018. Photo by Andy Lewis

The Eagles defensive line will face what is likely its toughest challenge of the season when the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry invade Lincoln Financial Field Sunday (1:00PM, FOX).


Henry, the workhorse back for Tennessee enters the game with 1,048 rushing yards on a league-leading 247 carries and 10 trips to the end zone.


The Eagles have struggled against the run in recent games and took action to rectify the situation.


That situation revolves around injuries to rookie standout defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who was knocked out of the lineup on October 30 after suffering an ankle injury.


Back on September 13, defensive end Derek Barnet tore his ACL and was lost for the season.

On November 15 defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu went down with a knee injury and is out for the year.


Looking at the caliber of running backs they will be facing over the final six games of the season including Henry, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, the Eagles (10-1) figured they better look for some help.


Howie Roseman brought in two veteran defensive tackles who were hanging out at home waiting to hitch a ride with a team that had a legitimate chance to make the Super Bowl.


Ndamukong Suh has been with the Eagles since November 17, 2022 when he signed a one-year contract to play in Philadelphia.


The 35-year-old brought Hall of Fame numbers and a championship pedigree to the Birds locker room.


His 71 career regular season sacks, 593 tackles (389 solo), 131 tackles for loss and 213 quarterback hits made Suh, now in his 13th season, too good an opportunity to pass up.


Suh, along with defensive tackle Linval Joseph, also in his 13th season and 25.5 career sacks and 650 tackles (381 solo) were signed to help stop the run.


The Birds won both games since they signed and played in and despite allowing 106 yards on 21 carries against the Green Bay Packers last week, it appears the bleeding has stopped.


But Henry is in a league by himself. Listed at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, the 2016 second round draft pick out of Alabama, is a handful every time he touches the ball.


Is there a book on Henry?


“Gang tackling!” Suh said with a laugh in front of his locker this week. “To be honest with you, it you put him in one-on-one situations, nine times out of ten I imagine he would win. It’s all about team defense and being able to gang-tackle him and get him down to the ground. And be gap efficient.”


Suh was asked about a technique defensive players use to say about tackling Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. Defenders said the key was to grab him around the waist and his legs to the ground.


Is that the same idea with Henry?


“I think the most important thing about him…he runs through tackles, stiff-armed people…that we already know…but it comes down to gang tackling and team defense and being very efficient in your gap defense.”


SUH SAID HE HAS FAITH THE BIRDS DEFENSE WILL NOT BE IN SO MANY TOUGH FIELD POSITION SPOTS AS THEY WERE AGAINST GREEN BAY AS A RESULT POOR KICK COVERAGE.

Suh, was asked if he or any of the other veterans spoke to any of the young players on special teams who were gashed by returns of 53 yards, 52 yards and 38 yards. Plus a fourth down turnover handed the ball over to the Packers at the Eagles 37-yard line.


Two of those short drives turned into Packers touchdowns.


Despite all the mistakes, Suh would not point the finger.


“I personally leave a lot of those things that don’t have anything to do with defense to special teams and their great coaches,” said Suh. “I think, no matter if it’s offense, defense or special teams…we all go through hiccups and understand where our detail needs to be honed in in. I think the guys will for sure detail their assignments and opportunities. It’s not like they were destroying us. We were making mistakes.”


Suh said if he has anything to say, it will be in the form of encouragement.

“Oh yeah, you watch the film, you understand where those mistakes were…they’re easy fixes. It all comes down to details.”


Titans long time center Ben Jones will be back in the starting lineup this Sunday against the Eagles after missing the last two games with a concussion. Photo by Andy Lewis.

TITANS WILL WELCOME BACK A FAMILIAR FACE.

Tennessee’s veteran center Ben Jones was back at practice this week after missing the last two games with a concussion.


Now in his 11th season, (four with Houston, seven with Tennessee), Jones had missed one game in his NFL career before this injury. An earlier concussion sidelined him briefly in 2019 and ended his streaks of 120 straight games played and 88 straight starts.

CLINCHING TIME ALREADY?:

A press release on NFL Communications revealed that, for the first time this season, there are teams that can clinch a spot in the 2022 postseason.


The Minnesota Vikings (9-2) can secure their first NFC North title since 2017, while the Eagles can clinch a postseason berth for the second-consecutive season and the fifth time in the past six seasons. For the full Week 13 playoff scenarios for each club, click here.


OUT FOR THIS GAME

Out of the Titans DE Denico Autry (knee), CB Elijah Molden (groin) and WR Cody Hollister (neck).


For the Eagles S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (lacerated kidney), DE Robert Quinn (knee). *


Stats from pro-football-reference.com.


Email Al Thompson at al.thompson@footballstories.com

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