Training camp is right around the corner, and as always, there are several key storylines to keep an eye on at this point in the offseason.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll highlight some of the more noteworthy ones set to play out at Jack Hammett Sports Complex as well as during the preseason.
How Will Hunter Henry Change the Offense?
It’s not a question of how Hunter Henry looks physically, as Head Coach Anthony Lynn and General Manager Tom Telesco each said how he is completely healthy after missing all of the 2018 regular season with an ACL injury.
"He looks good,” Lynn said. “It's good to see him running around, having fun and enjoying football again. He's healthy. Hunter Henry looks good."
“Hunter finished last season at full-go and played in the New England playoff game,” Telesco added during his revealing mailbag at the end of minicamp. “He has been 100% this offseason and has looked tremendous. He is an exciting young player.”
The better question, then, is how does his return change the offense?
“With Hunter Henry, we can stretch the field in the seams more,” Lynn told NFL Network during June’s minicamp. “He’s one of the better combo tight ends I think in the game because he blocks well. So just him back on the field, one of our biggest and better threats, it’s going to open things up outside for Keenan Allen a little bit and Mike Williams.”
The Chargers lost more than Henry’s production when he went down last season.
They also lost his presence and what he does for the other 10 men on offense, which is why his return may produce dividends in ways fans may not realize.
“It’s major (getting him back),” Allen said. “He’s another weapon and another great blocker for us. He does a lot of great things that you don’t see as well. Just having his presence and his knowledge will take a lot of attention for the defense as well.”
“It's really big knowing that instead of Keenan, you have to keep an eye on this guy, too, because he will run past you and make the play down the field,” added Travis Benjamin. “(So our offense may be) more explosive (than last season). There could be more plays down the field. We just can't wait to get started and see the 40-plus, 20-plus, 30-plus-yard plays downfield…. He looks good. It's good to see him running around, having fun and enjoying football again. He's healthy. Hunter Henry looks good."
Then, of course, there’s what Henry provides as an elite receiving option.
The 6-5, 250-pounder hauled in 36 passes for 478 yards in 2016 while tying for a league-leading eight touchdown catches among tight ends. He followed that up with another banner year, catching 45 passes for 579 yards and four scores. Henry also has a knack for coming through with the big play in the clutch as he quickly established himself as a red zone weapon and lethal third down target.
“I'm really excited to get back out here,” he said at the start of the offseason program. “(Being hurt) definitely kind of gave me more of an appreciation for what we have out here with just really missing the game so much last year.”
Overall, it’s been a long year for Henry, who craved being back out there again with his teammates. As a result, there may be no Charger looking forward to training camp more than the fourth-year tight end.
Well, it should go without saying that the Bolts are equally grateful to have him back, and eager to see how his return can impact what’s already one of the league’s most dynamic offenses.
Have a question, comment or idea? Sound off below!