2018 Training Camp Preview: Tight Ends

Take a look at the entire Bolts roster leading into 2018 Preseason.

As we near the start of training camp on July 28, we’ll preview each position for the Los Angeles Chargers. We continue with the tight ends.

Previous Previews

Virgil Green – Primarily known for his prowess as a blocker, Green is the only tight end on the roster with an NFL reception on his resume. The seven-year veteran spent his entire career with the Denver Broncos before inking a three-year deal with the Bolts in March. That signing was critical, especially after Hunter Henry went down with an ACL injury in May. The 6-5, 255-pound Green has caught 71 career receptions for 807 yards and four touchdowns in 100 career games. Green’s most productive season came in 2016, when he set career-highs in receptions (22) and yards (237). He started all 16 games a year ago, catching 14 passes for 191 yards and one TD.

Sean Culkin – An undrafted free agent in 2017, Culkin was so impressive in training camp and the preseason that he earned his way onto the 53-man roster. However, he was inactive in all but two games, spending most of the year refining his game on the practice field. The Bolts are counting on the hulking 6-5, 225-pounder to play a meaningful role in 2018, and training camp will give us a glimpse at just how far he’s come.

Braedon Bowman – Bowman spent nearly all of last season on the practice squad after spending the 2017 offseason with the New Orleans Saints. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent of the New York Jets in 2016, appearing in three games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Bowman has all the tools to be a successful tight end, and this will be the first glimpse fans will have to see the 6-2, 240-pounder in person.

Cole Hunt – The Chargers inked Hunt shortly after the draft ended, coveting the massive 6-7, 255-pound tight end. An honorable mention All-Big 12 pick a year ago, the TCU star is another tight end primarily known for his blocking abilities. He appeared in 27 career games with 17 starts at TCU, catching 12 passes for 124 yards.

Ben Johnson – The Kansas star signed with the Chargers after an impressive senior season with the Jayhawks. Johnson caught a career-best 30 passes for 363 yards last season, ending his collegiate career with 61 catches for 670 yards in 45 games.

Austin Roberts – An athletic product out of UCLA, Roberts signed with the Bolts as an undrafted free agent in late May. The 6-2, 230-pound tight end is known for his pass-catching prowess. He appeared in 10 games with three starts a year ago for the Bruins, catching 19 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, he played in 24 career games over three seasons at UCLA, totaling 35 receptions for 500 yards and three TDs.

We’re Keeping Our Eye On…

Ricky Henne: This unit was already under a microscope during the offseason program following Hunter Henry’s injury, but the scrutiny will be tenfold in training camp and preseason play. One tight end who stood out in the spring was Braedon Bowman, so I want to see how he handles himself when the pads come on. The tight end position is so physically demanding that it’s difficult to accurately evaluate them in shells and shorts. Bowman certainly looks the part, and now it’s time to see if he can be the all-around tight end the team hopes he can be.

Hayley Elwood: Get your popcorn ready because this is the battle to watch during training camp. While eyes will be on pretty much all the tight ends to see who will step up, I’m looking to see what Sean Culkin will do in his second year as a Charger. As an undrafted free agent, Culkin made the 53-man roster last season but was only active for two games. He certainly looks the part at TE, but can he capitalize on what he learned after spending a year in the Bolts’ system and build on that in 2018? We’ll find out.

Chris Hayre: Virgil Green is primarily known for his blocking, but his ability as a pass catcher is underrated. The eight-year veteran has never had more than 37 targets in a season. Though opportunities were limited in Denver, Green still had a reception of over 30 yards in each of his last four years in the league. Now with a new team, it’s possible that he may have a new, expanded role in L.A.

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