The Los Angeles Chargers‘ offense was dealt a blow Wednesday after its star tight end Hunter Henry is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee on the first day of OTAs on Tuesday.
Henry, who is entering his third season in the NFL, was expected to be the focal point of the Chargers offense as the team parted ways with Hall of Famer Antonio Gates last month.
With Henry out, the Chargers could be looking at bringing Gates back, according to ESPN. Gates, a fan favorite, has a good rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers.
Losing Henry will be tough for the Chargers. He has essentially taken over as the Charges’ primary tight end last season, where he started in 13 of 14 games with 45 catches for 579 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
“I’m not going to minimize it,” general manager Tom Telesco said. “He’s a Pro Bowl talent with Pro Bowl intangibles. As bad as you feel losing him, and as bad as the fans feel about it, Hunter feels worse. This team means a lot to him, and he means a lot to us.”
Henry was hurt early in practice during team drills. He was able to limp off the field on his own and remained there for there rest fo the session after he was looked at by team trainers.
“Just a routine out-route by Hunter that I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times he’s run that route,” Telesco said. “He just caught the ball, cut upfield and finished the route out 40 yards downfield at like 50 percent speed. But he finished the route, jogged back, and just felt like something grabbed at him. It’s not typical to see ACL injuries like that, but they happen all different ways. But it was a very routine, non-contact play.”
When asked whether the team is looking at Gates or another tight end to take over for Henry, Telesco said it’s early in the year and they are looking at options.
“The only positive right now for us is it’s May 23,” he said. “We’ve got four-plus months before we open up. So we’ll look at all the options out there, and see where the road heads after that.”
The Bolts have several tight ends on the roster: veteran Virgil Green, who signed as a free agent from Denver in March, Sean Culkin and Braedon Bowman, both second-year players, and Cole Hunt and Ben Johnson, two undrafted free agents.