The 2021-22 NFL playoffs begin this weekend, and there are still several NFL injury news and updates to keep an eye on. Will guys like Derrick Henry, Leonard Fournette, and DeAndre Hopkins make their triumphant returns off the IR, or will they miss their teams’ pivotal matchups?
NFL Injury IR News and Updates: Will Derrick Henry play for the Titans in the Divisional Round?
While there were murmurs that Derrick Henry might return in Week 18 to shake off some of the rust since his injury, ultimately, that was not the case. The Titans did, however, designate him to return from the injured reserve, which gives the team 21 days to add him to their 53-man roster.
Now, with a first-round bye already locked up, will Henry return for the Divisional Round? Or, will the fractured foot he sustained weeks ago keep him out of the lineup?
What is the approach for Henry on the bye week?
This past week, head coach Mike Vrabel said the Titans would continue to monitor Henry’s progress and see how he responds to “cutting” and “reactionary stuff,” per Jim Wyatt of Titans Online.
“We talk about the same things all the time about the players that are returning from injury, the ones that go back into the football game,” Vrabel said. “(It’s) ‘Can they make whatever they have worse? Can they protect themselves? And, can they reasonably do their job?’ So, I think for Derrick, having not been out there, I think there’s going to be some looks that he’s going to have to get in practice.
“We’re going to have to see how he responds to some cutting and some reactionary stuff. We’ll continue to look and see how he is progressing, and then we’ll make a decision.”
Henry will have an immediate impact
The reality is that this Titans offense will look very different when Henry returns. Although D’Onta Foreman did his best to keep this run game afloat, it was nowhere near as potent as when Henry was active. Foreman’s 133 carries, 566 yards, and 3 touchdowns led a committee that included Adrian Peterson, Dontrell Hilliard, and Jeremy McNichols.
Before his foot injury, Henry was once again leading the NFL with 219 carries for 937 yards and 10 TDs through eight games. Additionally, even after missing nine contests, he finished the regular season tied for sixth in the league in rushing touchdowns and ninth in rushing yards. Henry is a true game-changer.
Will Leonard Fournette be activated from IR?
Update 01/16/22: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that Leonard Fournette would be inactive for their game against the Eagles.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed running back Leonard Fournette on the IR on December 23. Before his injury, Fournette had one of the best seasons of his career. He led Tampa in rushing with 812 yards and 8 TDs. He also caught 69 passes for 454 yards and 2 more scores.
Like Henry, Fournette now has 21 days to be added to the active roster. Last year, Fournette became a huge part of the Bucs’ successful Super Bowl run. He rushed for 300 yards and 3 TDs in four playoff games, garnering him the nickname “Playoff Lenny.”
Tampa Bay hopes that Playoff Lenny can return to form for their first game of the NFL playoffs when they face the Philadelphia Eagles during Super Wild Card Weekend. However, there has been no word as to whether or not Fournette will actually play even though he has returned to practice.
NFL Injury IR News and Updates: Should we expect to see DeAndre Hopkins this week?
The Arizona Cardinals limped into the playoffs after leading the NFC West for most of the year. With a loss to the Seattle Seahawks to end the season, their Super Bowl aspirations took a definite hit.
Now, they face off against their NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams in the most important game of their season. Will they have their top receiving threat, DeAndre Hopkins, for this one?
Unfortunately, earlier this week, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury told the Los Angeles media that Hopkins would not be ready to return from knee surgery for their Wild Card game. Hopkins injured his knee in a December 13 loss to these same Rams and underwent surgery to repair a torn MCL the following week.
It has been a disappointing year for Hopkins. He finished the regular season with just 42 catches for 572 yards (career-lows) and 8 touchdowns.