Derrick Henry expected to be a difference-maker for Ravens

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens are confident that running back Derrick Henry is a perfect fit.

Several NFL experts also have high expectations for the four-time Pro Bowler in Baltimore.

Nora Princiotti, of the Ringer, predicts that Henry will be close to matching his career-high 2,027 yards rushing for the Ravens. Henry also will take pressure off quarterback Lamar Jackson.

“If part of the Ravens’ new offensive strategy involves reducing the number of hits that Lamar Jackson is going to take, I think you put Derrick Henry in there and there’s an idea of, ‘OK, we can do some volume this way,'” Princiotti said on “The Ringer NFL Show” podcast. “We can reap the benefits of that really physical style of rushing game, but we can have someone else doing it, we can protect the quarterback, we can let Lamar continue to do what he has done, even as a runner, which is doing more running to pass than running just to run.”

In March, the Ravens signed Henry to a two-year, $16 million contract worth up to $20 million, including $9 million fully guaranteed in the first year. He is expected to be a huge boost to a running attack that was already ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

Henry turned 30 on January 4th, but he is still a dominant player. The Ravens will try to make another deep run in the playoffs next season, and Henry elevates their chances.

Henry has run for at least 1,00 yards and 12 touchdowns in five of the last six seasons. He also led the NFL in rushing in 2019 (1,540), and in 2020, when he became the eighth running back in NFL history to register more than 2,000 rushing yards in a single season (2,027).

Over eight NFL seasons, Henry has run for 9,502 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, with 90 touchdowns.

“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,” Henry said. “So, it’s just [on] me [to] focus on doing my job, just so I’m a threat to opposing defenses.”

The one-two punch of Henry and Jackson, a two-time NFL MVP, is expected to be dominant. They should make it more difficult for defenses to game-plan against the Ravens.

“It definitely brings a different aspect, because [Jackson] is a dual-threat quarterback, and he’s [as] dangerous with his legs as he is with his arm,” Henry said. “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. But I’m just excited to get to work and put the work in out here and let it all come together when it’s that time.”

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