Hunter Henry injury could pave way to Antonio Gates reunion with Chargers

ByEric Williams ESPN logo
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers'offense suffered a crushing blow Tuesday, when talented tight end Hunter Henrytore the ACL in his right knee on the first day of OTAs.

Henry will get a second opinion Wednesday, but he's likely done for the year.

Entering his third season, Henry was being counted on to develop into a focal point of the offense as the Chargers opted not to bring back future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates in free agency.

Now, a Gates return could be in store, as the Chargers are expected to consider re-signing the 37-year-old, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Henry's injury occurred early in practice during team drills, as he limped off the field on his own. Once treated by trainers, Henry remained on the sideline for the rest of the session.

Afterward, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn suggested Henry's injury was not serious.

"He's fine," Lynn said."We just held him back because we can."

The 23-year-old Henry essentially took over as the Chargers' primary tight end in 2017, finishing with 45 catches for 579 receiving yards and four scores. In the 14 games he played in last season, the Chargers went 7-1 when he was targeted at least five times and 0-6 when he was not.

While known for his toughness, the Arkansas product has had his share of injuries during his first two NFL seasons. He suffered a lacerated kidney that forced him to miss the last two games of 2017. And he missed one game as a rookie because of a knee injury.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco told reporters during the draft that they decided to part ways with Gates because his targets would be limited and the team wanted to expand Henry's role. However, Gates already has a good rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers, intimately knows the offense and showed during the last two games of the 2017 season (10 catches, 127 yards, TD) that he can still make plays.

The Chargers signed Virgil Green to a three-year, $8.6 million deal this offseason to serve as the team's blocking tight end. Sean Culkin, Ben Johnson and Cole Hunt are the other tight ends on the team's 90-man roster, so depth at that position is an issue.

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