Hunter Henry just wants to get back to talking ball, and can you really blame him?
For nearly a full calendar year he’s had to answer nonstop questions about his health after tearing his ACL last May.
Throughout the 2018 season, he faced incessant queries about how he was progressing, and if he could possibly return to action should the Chargers make the postseason.
Well, that turned out to be the case as he made it back for the AFC Divisional Game against the New England Patriots.
Still, the questions remain, and Henry understands they will until the Bolts finally take the field to kick off the 2019 season. That’s why it didn’t come as any surprise that he was routinely asked how he was feeling on the first day of the team’s offseason program.
The good news is that for the most part, he feels like the Hunter Henry of old.
“I'm pretty much full-go,” he explained. “Everything feels good. It still gets sore every once in a while, but it's nothing too bad. It's nothing that's crazy. It's just a workout soreness.”
If you didn’t know any better, you might not have even known Henry was returning from injury. The 6-5, 250-pound tight end worked the ladder, sprinted and ran alongside every other Charger, no longer working on the side like he did throughout most of the 2018 campaign.
“I'm feeling good,” he said. “I'm just still trying to get strong and make sure everything is good. I'm excited. (My knee) is feeling really good…. It's been a long process. This thing is crazy how long it takes. I'm just excited to get back out with the guys and get going."
While his knee improved enough for him to take the field in that playoff game, he noted it now feels much stronger than it did that cold day in January. As if that didn’t buoy his spirits enough, he also said it’s a huge psychological weight off his shoulders having an actual NFL game under his belt.
In fact, that game served as a springboard for a productive few months immediately following the end of the season.
"It was definitely big,” he admitted. “It was good for just my spirits and pushing me this offseason, too, to get back out there and get a little taste of it. It was definitely big for my confidence.”
The silver lining to a year like Henry just endured is that it often builds up one’s character. That’s what everyone told him immediately after he sustained the injury, but he didn’t realize how much he’d grow as a person.
"It taught me a lot,” he explained. “Just patience, how to really grow and who I am. (It taught me) what everything was about, taking it day-by-day. One day could be good and one day could be bad. I'm really excited to get back out here. It 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."
That appreciation includes the brotherhood in the locker room, which he’s soaking up as much as ever as the offseason program gets underway. While he was around throughout the entire 2018 campaign, there’s nothing quite like being on the field with your teammates.
"It's just the camaraderie I think, being with all of the guys and kind of building a relationship with everybody,” he noted. “I think that's big. I think we have a pretty close team. Just being around the guys again, working out together and going through some hard times together — it's just fun to be around for this Phase I. You know, you work out, run, get in good shape and just kind of hang out with guys."