COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is hopeful of playing less than eight months after suffering a knee injury, but it is likely to be a game-time decision.
Henry is listed as questionable on the injury report going into Sunday’s AFC divisional-round game at New England. He was a full participant in all three days of practice leading up to the game.
Henry said following Friday’s practice that he has the mindset that he will be active.
“It was a long, long, long journey,” Henry said. “Anytime I’m out there I feel like I can make a difference, so that’s my mindset going into any game that I play. Like I said, long journey, so just a lot of excitement around here.”
Henry, the team’s second-round pick in 2016, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while running a route during a non-contact drill on May 22, the first day of organized team activities. He had surgery two weeks later and had been on the physically unable to perform list until Jan. 7. He returned to practice Dec. 17, but the Chargers had three weeks to decide whether to add him to the roster or place him on injured reserve.
Coach Anthony Lynn said Henry looked better as the week went on but that he still wants to evaluate his practices before making a final decision. If Henry plays against the Patriots, Lynn said he would be on a snap count.
Henry has 81 receptions for 1,057 yards and 12 touchdowns over his first two seasons. This season, Antonio Gates, Virgil Green and Sean Culkin have been targeted 79 times and have 53 receptions. They are averaging 11.5 yards per catch and have three touchdowns.
“The knee feels good, so I’m not really concerned about that. I’m ready to go. I’ve done it my whole life, so it will be different, but once I get a hit out of the way I’ll be feeling good,” Henry said.
Fullback Derek Watt (shoulder), cornerback Brandon Facyson (concussion) and linebacker Kyle Wilson (concussion) are also questionable.
Running back Melvin Gordon was a full participant Friday and will play. He did not practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday after suffering a knee injury in last week’s 23-17 win over Baltimore.
The Chargers also announced they have signed kicker Nick Rose, who is expected to handle kickoffs. Michael Badgley has made 20 of 22 field goals during the regular season and playoffs but only 15 percent of his kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks (9 of 60), a league low. Rose had a 71 percent touchback rate (32 of 47) in 10 games with the Redskins and Chargers last season.
Patriots kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson averaged nearly 29 yards per return during the regular season, third in the league.
“He has a strong kickoff leg,” Lynn said of Rose. “Our coverage units have been outstanding and the guy we are facing is one of the best in the business.”