When the news came back in May that Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry had suffered a knee injury, it put an immediate damper on the start of the year. And shortly after the injury came to light, things got worse when the severity of Henry’s situation came to light. The former second-round pick missed the entire 2018 regular season due to a torn ACL, and it seemed as if he’d be done for the entire year.
But that changed ahead of the playoffs, as Henry nearly returned for the wild-card matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. As the Chargers revealed head coach Anthony Lynn stated the young tight end was working with the first-team, and it seemed his outlook for that first game looked good. When all was said and done the Chargers opted to play it safe and hold him out.
Following an opening-round victory over the Ravens, Henry is now set to be on the field against the New England Patriots with a chance to go to the AFC Championship Game on the line. Let’s take a look at Henry’s injury, timeline and what led to his quick return.
Hunter Henry’s Impressive Comeback From Torn ACL
While the 24-year-old tight end suffered his injury during organized team activities, his rehab went incredibly well it seems. As Jack Wang of the Daily News reported, Henry was running just four months after his ACL tear.
“He looked real good,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “He did some start-and-stop stuff, a little bit of change of direction. It’s just so soon. It was amazing how he looked today. … He’s been doing some stuff on the side all along, but today, he kind of took it to another level.”
Even with that positive update coming to light, the belief that Henry would return at any point this season was a longshot. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco addressed the decision to put the tight end on the Physically Unable to Perform list as opposed to injured reserve. But also stated the odds were likely Henry wouldn’t return until next season while speaking with the team’s website back in September.
“That’s a normal transaction to do since his injury happened before training camp. But, it does give us the small opportunity that if his rehab comes along very, very well, late in the year he could possibly come back to play. Now, the odds are much more that he’ll play next year and not this year, we know that.
Hunter Henry’s Solid Start to NFL Career
After being selected early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft (No. 35 overall), Henry hit the ground running with the Chargers. He caught 36-of-54 targets for 478 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season. Henry proceeded to increase his receptions and yardage in 2017, catching 45 passes for 579 yards while adding four additional scores over 14 games.
Unfortunately, Henry’s 2017 campaign featured a knee injury and lacerated kidney which he battled through over the final stretch of the year. Even with the various injuries, it was apparent the upside he could provide when on the field.
The expectation was that the talented young pass-catcher would be the replacement for veteran Antonio Gates this season. After Henry’s injury occurred, the Chargers opted to bring Gates back to hold down the fort throughout the season.