All in all Hunter Henry is just another brick on the pile for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
The Los Angeles Chargers announced Monday afternoon that Henry, a third-year tight end who missed the entire 2018 regular season, had been reactivated and added to the team’s active roster ahead of their AFC divisional round playoff game against the Patriots in Foxborough. The former second-round draft pick tore his ACL during a Chargers practice last May.
Belichick says Henry, who had a breakout rookie season in 2016, is just one more offensive weapon for which the Patriots will have to prepare this week.
“How they utilize him — that’ll be up to them, but he’s a very talented player,” the Patriots coach told reporters during a conference call Monday afternoon.
Belichick said Henry has “great receiving skills” and could be one more threat in the passing game to go along with the Chargers’ other offensive skill players, which include quarterback Phillip Rivers, running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and tight end Antonio Gates. According to Football Outsiders, the 12-4 team ranked third in the NFL in weighted (and unweighted) offensive efficiency this season.
“It’s another brick on the pile that we’ll have to deal with,” Belichick added, referring to Henry.
The 24-year-old returned to practice on Dec. 17, which gave the Chargers 21 days to reactivate him, or else he’d be ineligible to return until next season — meaning Monday was the last day they could add him to the roster.
During his first two seasons, Henry totaled 81 receptions for 1,057 yards and 12 touchdowns, including eight touchdowns in 2016, which tied a rookie record for tight ends.
However, amid speculation that he would come back for the AFC wild card game against the Baltimore Ravens (he didn’t), Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters last week that Henry would “definitely be on a pitch count” upon his return.
“You can’t put a player out there for an extended period of time who hasn’t played since last December,” Lynn said.
That said, according to Stephen A. Smith, Henry has actually played quite effectively this year.