The Chargers take the field to kick off Rookie Mini Camp.
Most of San Diego’s rookie class arrived earlier this week, spending four days getting acclimated to life as a Charger.
Due to commitments at Arkansas, Hunter Henry only arrived in America’s Finest City less than 24 hours before taking the field for Rookie Mini Camp.
It didn’t take long for the tight end to make an impression.
Head Coach Mike McCoy was quick to praise the second round pick after the tight end flashed in drills and made numerous receptions in 7-on-7s.
“Hunter didn’t get here until yesterday, and you saw him catch a number of balls in practice today. The things he did in the passing game were outstanding for just being here a day.”
While Henry made it look easy, it was a whirlwind process to get up to speed for the morning session.
“It was fun, but it was kind of crazy,” he said. “Just to move around and play football again was fun. I’m trying to shed off the (rust) and get some conditioning in. I felt really good. I’m trying to play my game and make plays. I wanted to make a good first impression. They picked me for a reason. I’m here for a reason.”
The Chargers selected Henry with the 35th overall pick after the 6-5, 250-pound tight end hauled in 116 passes for 1,661 yards and nine touchdowns in 38 career games. He did not register a single drop last season as he was a consensus first team All-American and John Mackey Award Winner as the nation’s top tight end, setting career-highs in receptions (51) and yards (739).
It’s no secret San Diego needs Henry to produce early across from Antonio Gates. Number 85 is the only returning tight end who suited up last season for the Bolts, so the team is counting on the rookie to emerge.
“It’s critical for everybody really, and the whole entire group of guys, but we’re going to push certain guys along faster than others,” McCoy acknowledged. “He’s going to be one of those guys that will get in there early and start playing. We’re not going to hesitate to put him in there. He’s going to make some mistakes, and we’ll live with that for a while. But as you saw today in practice, he’s a very talented player. There’s a reason why we picked him where we did. He’s going to help us win. I think Philip (Rivers) is going to love him.”
That process begins with a Rookie Mini Camp Henry believes is pivotal for his progression. After months preparing for and going through the draft process, he’s eager to get back to the game he loves.
“I want to get used to playing football again during mini camp. I’ve been training to be a track athlete for a while. Now it’s back to football. I’m working on getting the techniques down, hand placement, footwork, power, my hips; focusing on everything like that. And then I need to get in tune with the offense and get where I need to be as fast as I can. I know what I’ve got to do. I just want to play fast and get there.”