Following the season-ending injury to Hunter Henry, the tight end group for the Chargers looked different in 2018. How do they look heading into 2019?
This article series has been previewing each position group for the Chargers heading into the 2019 season, both going over the returning or new faces and giving the group a final grade. Last time, the defensive line was reviewed, which can be read here. Up next is the tight end group, which was a bit of a roller coaster last season.
Just 13 months ago this week, Hunter Henry tore his ACL in practice. It was an incredibly unfortunate injury for a player that just had a career year in 2017, which took the Chargers’ tight end plans for the 2018 season and lit them on fire. Tom Telesco announced during the 2018 NFL Draft that tight end Antonio Gates wouldn’t return to the team and that the Chargers would move forward with the current group. Henry’s injury changed that, and soon enough in September, Gates would sign a one-year contract with the team. Both he and free agent signing Virgil Green combined to be the 1A and 1B of the offense, but it was still clearly lacking a truly dominant tight end.
That’s where things will (hopefully) change this season: When Henry returns for Week One, he will be the number one guy on the depth chart, thankfully. Green was good in his role last season, and he’ll probably be the second tight end. Sean Culkin will also still be around in the last year of his deal, presumably still playing the same role of a blocking tight end and H-back.