Hunter Henry

Chargers TE Hunter Henry Could Still Return In 2018

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry, who suffered a torn ACL in May, still has a chance to return to the field this season, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. While a Henry comeback is a still considered a “long shot,” the third-year pro could give the Los Angeles offense a boost as the postseason nears.

This isn’t the first time a potential Henry return has been discussed, as reports as early as August suggested Henry could be available late in the 2018 campaign. Clearly, Los Angeles wouldn’t bring Henry back unless it had a legitimate shot at the postseason, and following a 5-2 start, the Chargers certainly have that. Per FiveThirtyEight.com, Los Angeles has a 75% chance of earning a playoff berth, although it will almost assuredly be as a wild card team given the success of the AFC West-leading Chiefs.

Henry is currently on the non-football injury list, but because he’s already been sidelined for an NFL-mandated six games, he’s eligible for activation at any time. Per Schefter, Henry has not suffered any recent setbacks while both running and squatting, and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said Henry has “looked a lot better than I thought he would.”

The Chargers could certainly use Henry, as they’ve received virtually nothing from their current stable of tight ends. Los Angeles re-signed franchise icon Antonio Gates prior to the season and he leads the club’s tight ends in both receptions (12) and yards (123), while Virgil Green is pacing the Chargers’ tight ends in snaps.

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West Notes: Broncos, Bosa, Henry, Seahawks

Yesterday, 28-year-old Brittany Bowlen publicly confirmed her interest in one day becoming the Broncos‘ controlling owner. As Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets, however, Bowlen’s interest had been known for some time, yesterday just marked the first time she went public with her feelings. Jhabvala also confirms that, if Bowlen does not become the controlling owner, the Pat Bowlen Trust will likely sell the club to an outside buyer.

Now let’s take a look at some more news and notes from the league’s west divisions:

  • Chargers DE Joey Bosa will make his debut on November 4 against the Seahawks, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. That is the return date that the team has been targeting for some time, and Bosa will obviously provide a huge boost to the team’s pass rush and playoff aspirations.
  • The news is not as good for Chargers TE Hunter Henry. Although there was some hope that Henry could return to the field this season, despite the fact that he tore his ACL in May, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that the odds of that happening are quite slim.
  • La Canfora confirms a report from earlier this week that the Seahawks will eventually be sold in the wake of Paul Allen‘s death. Allen, who has no heirs and who did not intend to pass on the team to a specific person, did make plans and stipulations just the same. The NFL is reserving comment at this time and will allow the Seahawks to make Allen’s plans public when they choose to, but sources expect that the transfer of the team — likely for a price exceeding $2.3 billion — will take a similar course as the eventual sale of the Bills after Ralph Wilson‘s passing. In that case, Wilson had put a framework in place for the Bills to remain in Buffalo, and the team was ultimately sold to Terry Pegula, who already had strong ties to the region.
  • 49ers sixth-round draft pick Marcell Harris was cleared to begin practice this week, the team announced, making him eligible to return as early as Week 9 against the Raiders. The strong safety was placed on IR after the team’s final cutdown, but the team left open the possibility that he could play this year. The Niners must activate him before Nov. 7 for him to be eligible to play. If he does play this year, it will snap an inactive streak that has been ongoing since he suffered a torn Achilles at Florida.

Ben Levine contributed to this post.

Latest On Chargers TE Hunter Henry

Less than four months after tearing his ACL, Hunter Henry is already taking major steps in his recovery process. Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News writes that the Chargers tight end was seen “sprinting with a large brace” on Friday. This comes after Henry participated in a light workout with his teammates.

After hauling in 81 catches for 1,057 yards and 12 touchdowns through the first two seasons of his career, Henry was ready for a breakout campaign in 2018. With Antonio Gates out of the picture, the 2016 second-round pick was ready to become one of Philip Rivers‘ favorite targets in the passing game. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old suffered a torn ACL during a non-contact play on the first day of the Chargers’ organized team activities. It was assumed at the time that Henry would have to sit out the entire 2018 campaign.

That still might be the case, but Henry seems to be recovering quickly. While head coach Anthony Lynn noted that the tight end “took it to another level” this past week, general manager Tom Telesco previously cautioned that it was more likely Henry returned in 2019 than 2018. Henry is currently sitting on the PUP, meaning he could be activated after sitting out the first six weeks.

The team also seen speedy ACL recoveries in the past. As Wang points out, pass rusher Melvin Ingram returned to the field six months after suffering the injury in 2013. That’s usually the minimum recovery time required for a torn ACL, and it’s not uncommon to see players sit out 12 months. Either way, considering the progress Henry has already made, the tight end could logically return to the field before the end of the regular season. At the very least, it’s telling that the organization hasn’t completely rejected the idea.

The Chargers ended up re-signing Gates to pair with Virgil Green and Sean Culkin. If Henry returns, he’d slide into a lethal offense that also includes running back Melvin Gordon and wideouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

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AFC West Notes: Mack, Lynch, Henry

Yesterday’s trade that sent Khalil Mack from the Raiders to the Bears rocked the NFL world, and we can expect more details to trickle out in the coming days. For instance, Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie conceded yesterday that he never had any desire to trade Mack until the end. Per Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, McKenzie said, “My whole thought process was how to get Khalil in here. Absolutely, it was here at the end, it was in the final hour that it kind of just hit and it hit hard and heavy. It was not the plan to trade him at all.”

McKenzie also said he was not afraid to pay top dollar for Mack, but he just could not justify Mack’s asking price. He said, “We presented him with an offer. We got the counter back and talked about it with (agent Joel Segal). What they were demanding, it just wasn’t going to work” (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal). McKenzie, though, did not elaborate on how Mack’s counteroffer to the Raiders compared with the contract he ultimately landed with the Bears. Gehlken also tweets that more than half the league inquired on Mack, and Oakland ultimately narrowed the list of suitors to teams that it believed could be picking high in the first round in 2019.

Now let’s round up several more rumors from the AFC West:

  • Embattled QB Paxton Lynch is still on the Broncos‘ roster for now, but he may not be around for long. As James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets, Denver GM John Elway said he spoke with several free agent quarterbacks, but the QBs he was interested in did not have any interest in joining the Broncos. Elway did not name names, but it is clear that Denver could still move on from Lynch if the club can make an upgrade through free agency or the waiver wire.
  • The Broncos waived impressive rookie OLB Jeff Holland yesterday and likely hope that he will go unclaimed so they can put him on the practice squad. Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic, however, tweets that she does not expected Holland to make it through waivers, as teams were expressing interest in him even before he was cut.
  • We heard several weeks ago that Chargers TE Hunter Henry could return this season, and as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk points out, what the Bolts did during final cuts yesterday is in keeping with that report. Los Angeles elected to put Henry on the PUP list rather than injured reserve, which further supports the notion that, if the Chargers are in the playoff hunt late in the season, Henry could return to help get them over the hump.
  • The Raiders released WR Martavis Bryant yesterday, as Bryant is facing yet another drug-related suspension.
  • The Chiefs released CB David Amerson yesterday.

Hunter Henry Could Return In 2018?

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is now three months removed from undergoing surgery for a torn ACL, and there is reportedly a “glimmer of hope” the third-year pro could return during the 2018 campaign, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com.

Most ACL injuries require a minimum nine-month recover period, a timeline which should have ruled out Henry for the regular season. But Henry has been moving well during Los Angeles’ training camp, per Williams, who adds Henry “doesn’t look like someone who believes [his] season is over.”

The Chargers will almost surely place Henry on injured reserve during roster cutdowns in September, but there’s a chance he could be designated as an IR/return player. (A player with that designation must be carried through to his club’s respective initial 53-man roster before being moved to IR.) Henry would be able to play after missing Los Angeles’ first eight games, meaning he could return on November 11, just shy of six months after his ACL surgery.

At that point, the Chargers’ team record and standing within the AFC West would likely play a role in their decision on Henry. If Los Angeles isn’t in contention, it won’t risk Henry’s health in a lost season. As Williams notes, the Chargers must take into account the 23-year-old Henry’s long-term outlook with the club, not just his potential 2018 impact.

Without Henry available, the Chargers will begin the season with Virgil Green as their top tight end, while Sean Culkin, Braedon Bowman, Je’Ron Hamm, Cole Hunt, and Ben Johnson are also on the roster. However, Los Angeles is still negotiating with franchise icon Antonio Gates, who reportedly won’t play for any team besides the Chargers.

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Chargers GM Talks Henry, Gates, Draft

Following an eventful offseason that saw the Chargers suffer a major injury, draft seven rookies, and sign a handful of free agents, general manager Tom Telesco took to Chargers.com to answer fans’ questions. The executive touched on a number of subjects, including his team’s draft strategy and the Chargers’ plans at tight end.

The entire Q&A is worth checking out, but we’ve listed some of the notable soundbites below:

On tight end Hunter Henry‘s recovery from a torn ACL:

“Hunter had surgery yesterday and is home resting and rehabbing already. Everything went well. He will attack his rehab with the same enthusiasm as he plays the game. He will be back stronger and better than ever.”

On a potential reunion with veteran tight end Antonio Gates:

“Would be a natural fit, right? I saw that Philip [Rivers] voted for it. When it comes to roster moves, we are not a democracy. But we are not a dictatorship either. His vote was noted and accounted for. Antonio’s accomplishments and contributions to this organization are immeasurable. We will see what the future holds. I don’t have an update at this time.”

On why the team hasn’t drafted “skilled offensive lineman”:

“It’s a priority every year. We have drafted OL in the top 3 rounds 3x in the last couple years, mostly recently with Forrest Lamp in the 2nd and Dan Feeney in the 3rd. Both are skilled. Both are tough. And both have bright futures.”

On the Chargers’ weaknesses at run defense:

“Our run defense needs to improve. It comes from all 11 players on defense, not just the front 7. To give some perspective though, the top 5 teams in avg rushing yards allowed per game were: Browns, Broncos, Cards, Titans, and Eagles. Combined record 33-42 going into week 17. Worst 5 teams were: Chargers, Patriots, Rams, Jags, and Steelers. Combined record 53-22. We never want to be in the bottom 5 in anything, and improvement is needed. But we have to be balanced and smart.”

On the oddest contract clause he’s seen throughout his career.

“It wasn’t with the Chargers, but we once had an incentive clause to pay a player a certain amount of $ for 10 or more blocked punts. The player was an offensive lineman.”

His perception of the team following the draft and free agency:

“We have some talent on this team this year. But the talent level in the NFL is not much different from the top team to the 32nd team. Every team has talent. We have a great group of coaches, led by Anthony Lynn, who will have an excellent game plan for our players. But the NFL is a very competitive league and there are 31 other great coaching staffs. The key is to have the talent buy in to the coaching staff’s game plan. We control that, nobody else does. And that is what the off-season and training camp is all about. I love what I have seen thus far and I am excited for the future.”

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Chargers Won’t Rule Out Antonio Gates

After losing Hunter Henry to a torn ACL, the Chargers say they will search high and low for potential replacements. That could include a reunion with Antonio Gates, even though the team previously told the veteran that he would not be re-signed

[RELATED: Chargers’ Henry Suffers ACL Tear, Will Miss 2018 Season]

We’ll look at all the options that are out there. We’ve got time to do it right now,” GM Ted Telesco said when asked about Gates (Twitter link via Greg Beachem of the Associated Press).

Gates, 38 in June, still intends to play and it would only make sense for him to return to the only NFL team he has ever known. He’s no longer the elite option that he was in his prime, but he showed last year that he still has something to offer and he stands as one of the better available options at this juncture of the offseason.

Last year, Gates saw less targets than Henry and finished out with 30 catches for 316 yards and three touchdowns. Those were his lowest totals in each category since his 2003 season.

Gates’ last deal paid him roughly $11MM between 2016 and 2017. A new deal with Gates would surely be a one-year pact and would likely cost the team less than $5.5MM. Right now, the Chargers’ tight end depth chart is headlined by Virgil Green, who is more of a blocker than a pass-catcher. After that, they have a pair of former UDFAs in Sean Culkin and Braedon Bowman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers’ Hunter Henry Tears ACL

The Chargers’ offense received a brutal blow on Tuesday, and barring an impending second opinion revealing a different diagnosis, Hunter Henry will be lost for the season.

Henry suffered a torn ACL during a drill Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The third-year tight end will seek a second opinion on Wednesday, per Schefter, who adds this injury came during a non-contact sequence.

The Bolts have now confirmed the initial diagnosis for their top tight end.

Expected to make a big leap after the Chargers announced they would not bring back Antonio Gates, Henry will now be out until his contract year of 2019. The former second-round pick amassed 579 receiving yards and four touchdowns last season, emerging as the Bolts’ go-to tight end. He has 12 career TDs.

Gates remains a free agent, and with the calculus changing considerably for the Chargers this week, it can’t be ruled out the 37-year-old could be back for one last run with the team. The Bolts signed longtime Broncos tight end Virgil Green in free agency, but the eighth-year player rarely provided much in the way of receiving production. Instead, Green’s more known for his blocking skills. Gates caught 30 passes for a career-low 316 yards last season, but in the two games Henry missed in December, the future Hall of Famer totaled 127 yards and a touchdown.

This marks the latest setback for the Chargers, who have dealt with a string of injuries to skill-position players in recent years. Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have seen seasons nullified or disrupted by maladies in recent years. Now, Henry — who has played 29 of a possible 32 regular-season games as a pro — joins the list. Only the stakes are higher now than they were when those previous injuries occurred. The Chargers have drawn buzz as the AFC West favorite after re-routing their season from 0-4 to the playoff bubble last fall. And the events of Tuesday strip Philip Rivers of one of his top weapons.

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Chargers Place TE Hunter Henry On IR

The Chargers announced that they have placed tight end Hunter Henry on injured reserve due to a small laceration on his kidney. In related moves, the Bolts promoted guard Brett Boyko to the active roster and signed tackle Andrew Wylie to the practice squad. Hunter Henry (vertical)

Henry suffered the painful injury during Saturday night’s game against the Chiefs. It’s a tough loss for the Chargers as they try and fight their way into the playoffs. The Chargers face long odds of winning the AFC West, but they have a slightly better chance of securing the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. In order to have any chance at the postseason, the Chargers will have to beat the Jekyll-and-Hyde Jets this weekend.

Henry’s year ends with 45 catches for 611 yards and four touchdowns. As of this writing, he is tied for second with Melvin Gordon in team receiving TDs, and third in catches and yards. The advanced metrics were also a huge fan of his work. Henry placed third amongst all tight ends in performance this year, according to Pro Football Focus.

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Chargers Make Kicker Change

The Chargers are making a kicker change. Kicker Nick Rose has been claimed off waivers from the Redskins. Meanwhile, kicker Travis Coons has been waived. Nick Rose (vertical)

Rose filled in for the Redskins while Dustin Hopkins was sidelined with a hip injury. Rose did well in Hopkins’ absence, connecting 10 of 11 field goal attempts and 18 of 20 extra point tries. On Saturday, Hopkins returned to action, displacing Rose.

The Redskins have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but the 7-7 Chargers still have a chance to make the postseason. In that sense, it’s an upgrade for Rose.

The Bolts have a 6% chance of overtaking the Chiefs in the AFC West and slightly better odds of securing a Wild Card spot, per the New York Times’ playoff calculator. In order to have any chance at the playoffs, the Chargers must beat the Jets on Christmas Eve.

In other Chargers news, tight end Hunter Henry has suffered a lacerated kidney (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). His status going forward is uncertain.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.