Derrick  Henry returns

Derrick Henry goes through drills Wednesday on his first day back after foot surgery two months ago.

Derrick Henry took the first step – albeit a tad bit gingerly at times – toward his return as the Tenenssee Titans running back was designated for return and made his way back onto the practice field Wednesday.

Henry, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Tuesday, went through the stretch and individual work with his teammates, marking the first time he had practiced with them since breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot on Oct. 31 against Indianapolis. Henry appeared to be testing the foot as he went through the drills in individual work that running backs coach Tony Dews put his group through.

Henry now enters a 21-day window where he can practice with the Titans and be activated onto the 53-man roster anytime in that timeframe. Henry could return as early as this Sunday when the Titans go through their regular-season finale in Houston. But in order to do so, Henry would likely have to go through a full week of practice this week and not experience any pain or soreness issues.

The Titans also could wait and simply let Henry continue to practice on a side field or with teammates until the playoffs begin.

Tennessee clinched the AFC South this past Sunday with a 34-3 win over the Miami Dolphins. The Titans can clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Texans and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel was asked what the club needs to see from Henry in order to activate him from the injured reserve list.

“Just to see how he responds and to ask him to starting doing some of those things he's going to need to do in the football game – no different than what we've done with any other guy who has come back from injured reserve,” Vrabel said.

The challenge, according to Vrabel, in helping getting Henry back in game shape is to “try to recreate what they're going to be asked to do in the game as closely as we possibly can.”

Teammates are happy to see Henry simply be able to return to the practice field in an

“It's exciting to get him back out there. He's put in a lot of work to get to this point, because it's been awhile. No doubt, we're excited to get him back out there and we'll see what he can do,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said.

Henry rushed for 937 yards in the eight games he played in at the start of the season. That total still ranks sixth in the NFL, despite Henry missing half the season with the injury.