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Hunter Henry Emerging as a Key Force
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There are several areas of frustration that plagued the Chargers’ slow start to the season when they opened 0-4.
After the Bolts rattled off their second straight win Sunday in Oakland, Head Coach Anthony Lynn was asked where failing to get Hunter Henry more involved in the offense ranks among those frustrations.
“Probably at the top,” he said. “Very top.”
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that after making a concerted effort to get the tight end the ball the past two weeks, the team has posted back-to-back wins to kick start the second quarter of the season.
First came a big-time performance in the Big Apple, when Henry caught a leaping, over the shoulder 25-yard touchdown as he separated from a trio of Giants’ defenders. The touchdown helped spark the Chargers to a 27-22 win over New York.
Last week, his clutch-factor was off the charts in the team’s 17-16 victory in Oakland. Not only did he catch five passes for a career-high 90 yards, but had a pair of receptions in the game-winning drive. He carved up the Raiders with gains of 34 and 23 yards on two of the first three snaps of the series, almost singlehandedly putting the Bolts in field goal range.
“Hunter is going to make the most of the opportunity when it comes,” Melvin Gordon said. “He is not the type that is going to complain or get upset. We know the type of player he is. When the lights come on and we have to make a play, he is always there. We just have to trust the process and things will pan out.”
Altogether, Henry’s caught 17 passes this year for 228 yards and a pair of TDs. His 13.4 yards per catch rank fifth among all tight ends. Meanwhile, his 10 touchdowns dating back to when he entered the league a year ago are the second-most in the NFL.
“I felt like I put a lot of work in all of our practices and games,” he said earlier this week. “I knew it was coming (even when I wasn’t getting as many opportunities). I knew I had to show up and continue to put in the work.”
It’s safe to say the team will once again look in the 23-year old’s direction against the Broncos, especially since he failed to see a single target in the Week 1 loss to open the season. Still, the Chargers know Denver will likely do what they can to force the ball other places.
“People can take him away, too,” Lynn acknowledged. “Sometimes you have to take what the defense gives you. If they give you Hunter early, we’ll take Hunter early. We got to Hunter when we needed to (in Oakland) and he made plays.”