Two years after battling for the Heisman Trophy, Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry are dueling in preseason.
Derrick Henry topped Christian McCaffrey in a tight race for the Heisman Trophy two years ago, but that’s history. What matters now is how much of an impact the two running backs will have on the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers, respectively.
If preseason is any indication, it looks like both could be important in 2017.
On back-to-back drives, Henry and McCaffrey got points on the board with a 17-yard touchdown for each running back.
Henry struck first with his touchdown in the final minutes of the first quarter:
Then it was McCaffrey’s turn on the following drive:
In a lot ways the two runs mirror each other to opposite sides of the field — helped by the fact that both wear No. 22 now — but there are small differences that show the strengths of each player.
For Henry, it was a stiff arm in the backfield and a missed arm tackle that allowed him to turn up field and begin his rumble toward the end zone. For McCaffrey, it was quickness and burst along with a seamless change of direction that put a defender off balance and opened his path.
Henry got another touchdown on the next drive, but it came after bashing his head against the Panthers’ tough run defense over and over. He appears to be done for the day with 36 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts.
McCaffrey didn’t get a touchdown on the next drive, but he got the Panthers in Tennessee territory with a 38-yard screen pass. He’s likely done after racking up 33 yards on three carries and another 39 receiving yards on two receptions.
It’s the perfect analogy to 2015 when McCaffrey racked up huge all-purpose yards, but lost to Henry who topped him in touchdowns.
Expect to see a whole lot of Henry and McCaffrey this season, which shouldn’t be shocking for anyone who watched college football a couple years ago.