McCormick’s Football Folder: What's Henry's future?

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 12:16am

With the NFL season rapidly drawing to close, some of you will need a pro football fix.

Since there is no more XFL or NFL Europe to fill up those offseason days of football hunger pangs, this periodic column will have to suffice.

We’ll take a look at some goings-on around the NFL, especially where the Titans are concerned, and offer up opinions as well as bits of news here and there from around the league.

Feel free to post comments or send e-mails in response or with questions.

Speaking of which, a reader named Johnny Tune e-mailed me the other day about running back Chris Henry’s future with the team. So, here goes, as I see it.

As a second-round pick just two years into his career, Henry has gotten a free pass over the first couple of years of his career, much the same way receivers Paul Williams and Chris Davis have. That said, the honeymoon should be over as they enter the third year of their contracts.

Henry could be on the spot more than any of those picks, given that former Kentucky running back Rafael Little should be fully healed from his knee injury and ready to compete for a job in camp. That job presumably will be Henry’s, since Chris Johnson and LenDale White are secure at No. 1 and 2 on the depth chart, and Quinton Ganther brings the special teams element with his game.

The Titans’ party line regarding Henry is that since he doesn’t play special teams that there was no way to keep him active on game day. That is partially true, but Henry has yet to show the instincts and vision needed to make the sort of impact a second-round pick should be making. The players who can best help the team win are the ones active on game day unless injured. End of argument.

Let’s put it this way. Indirectly, Henry’s lack of development thus far played a role in the Titans’ loss to Baltimore. How, you ask?

Johnson was carving up the Ravens’ defense with 100 yards total offense in the first half. When he went down with an ankle injury, the Titans had no choice but to go with the plodding White, who was largely ineffective, because as we’ve seen over the years, very few backs run well between the tackles on Baltimore’s defense.

Had the Titans had another speed-type back that they had confidence in to insert in the lineup, who’s to say they wouldn’t have continued gaining chunks of yards with the running game?

YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?: So now, a report comes out of Dallas that Michael Irvin will host a reality show that will allow someone to earn a roster spot on the Cowboys’ 80-man roster if they win the show.

That gives a whole new meaning to the term “street free agent.”

Well, Adam “Pacman” Jones did say he expects the Cowboys will re-sign him, and I did write a column once suggest he turn his life into a reality show. Maybe Pac can go on Irvin’s show and win his way back onto the Cowboys’ roster.

SHOULD HAVE KNOWN: Speaking of Pacman, did anyone see the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story on Manny Arora, his former lawyer and agent, suing him for unpaid legal fees in excess of $10,000 for time spent representing Jones’ family and friends.

Among those on the list were Jones’ mother Deborah, who has had her share of troubles and the infamous Lewis Kuffuor, of “Lewis had the weed” fame.

The charges supposedly ranged from speeding and simple battery to serious crimes like kidnapping and murder and involved 18 different incidents.

Jones and Arora’s relationship only goes back apparently about three or four years, and in that time Jones’ friends and family rang up 18 police incidents! Apparently, that number doesn’t even count Jones’ own brushes with the law, which numbers about 13 or 14 now.

REUNITED: It would have been good move for the Titans to have taken Gunther Cunningham back as their defensive coordinator, and he openly says he spent three of the happiest years of his life here in Nashville coaching linebackers on Jeff Fisher’s staff.

But the chance to rejoin Jim Schwartz and be a part of Schwartz’s first venture into being a head coach was too much for him to pass up.

Cunningham was completely sincere when he told The City Paper how excited he was in his new role with the Detroit Lions.

“I think this is a match made in heaven. I can’t tell you how excited I am,” Cunningham said. “Too many times the stars don’t line up. But this time they lined up. I want him to be successful. I’m not looking to be a head coach. I don’t want to be anything other than to make him look good and help him succeed.”

ANNIVERSARY: The New England Patriots have already unveiled their 50th anniversary logo, and look for the Titans franchise to do the same at some point this year. The 2009 season marks the 50th anniversary of the eight original AFL franchises that includes the current Titans, Patriots, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.

There is even the possibility the teams will wear throwback uniforms at some point in the season, meaning the Titans might don their old Houston Oilers’ digs one more time.

WELCOME BACK: The Titans have signed another player to a futures contract, agreeing to terms with defensive end Larry Birdine, who will be in his second go-around with the club.

Birdine 6-4, 270, spent time on the Titans practice squad in 2007, and has bounced around the league with time in Green Bay, Denver and San Francisco.

Perhaps Birdine’s biggest career highlight to date came against the Titans in a preseason game, when he had a sack of Vince Young, forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in a 2007 preseason game for the Packers.

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By: gratefulted on 12/31/69 at 6:00

As a former running back, I speak from experience. After all. I had a career high game in 1969 of 7 carries for 65 yards. At 55, with a permanent disability, I had a better chance of getting outside on the Ravens than LenDale. Stick to touchdowns, LD.