The news last week was chilling if you’re a
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers fan. Burgeoning star TE Hunter Henry blew out his knee while running drills and is out for 2018. Any way you slice it this is a huge blow to what was shaping up as a very exciting season for the organization.
Stunner from LA: Chargers’ TE Hunter Henry suffered a season-ending torn ACL today, per league source. Did it during a drill, running downfield, untouched. Second opinion coming Wednesday.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 23, 2018
Injuries are a part of the NFL challenge, however, this one seems directed to hit the Boltz where it could hurt the most. The team had recently moved on from future Hall of Fame TE Antonio Gates opening the door for Hunter to shine. That’s not happening now. Next up on the “oh crap” list is QB Philip Rivers and his 37-year-old arm. Currently in his prime, how many elite-level seasons does he have left? It seems every year Rivers is deprived of one of his primary receiving talents. Perhaps this time oft-injured WR Keenan Allen gets a break?
TE Virgil Green
- 33 1/2″ Arm Length
- 249 lbs
- 9 1/3″ hands
- 4.64 sec 40 yd dash
- 23 reps bench press
- 42.5″ vert jump
- 130″ broad jump
- 6.90 sec 3 cone drill
- 4.40 sec 20 yd shuttle
Signed to a 3-year contract from the Broncos, he’s big and fast, and his blocking skills are supreme. He doesn’t have freakish athletic skills but he’s smooth in his patterns and has a nice catch radius. A solid receiver in the passing game it’s his blocking that got him a 3-year deal with the Chargers.
Green and Henry would have formed quite the formidable run blocking unit for Melvin Gordon. However, that dream could still come to frution depending on the progress of …..
TE Cole Hunt
- 255 lbs
- 4.70 40 yd dash
- 21 reps bench press
- 32″ vert jump
- 115″ broad jump
- 7.15 sec 3 cone drill
- 4.37 sec 20 yd shuttle
The rookie UDFA out of TCU has intriguing physical skills but is a developmental project with only 25 college receptions under his belt. However, he wasn’t asked to catch the rock at TCU, he was asked to block and that he was rather dominant at. Yet Cole has excellent short area quickness and size that should make him a red zone / short yardage specialist right away. It’s possible he could fill the TE2 shoes, it will all depend on his ability to deliver in the passing game.
TE Braedon Bowman has been on 4 teams in 3 seasons. and UDFA’s Ben Johnson and Sean Culkin are looked at as scout team material at this point. One has to hope Henry will be back next season. Ergo the team could sign a veteran for one season to help bridge the gap. There are intriguing options available:
Martellus Bennett – The single TE1 prospect on the list, at 31 years old his game has fallen off, yet he is still a beast when motivated. It all depends on where Bennett’s head is at. If the idea of taking another Super Bowl run with the Chargers strikes his fancy he could be a real weapon in both the running and passing games. It would also give him a chance to have played for one more elite QB and I am not certain any player has ever played for more? Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and now perhaps, Philip Rivers. That would make an already incredible list even more so.
Coby Fleener – 29 years old and can still play at a TE2 level, which is all he really ever was. But he can aptly fill that role. The problem is he is no longer a real threat in the passing game and he was never a plus blocker. See the issue here?
Julius Thomas – 30 years old and he probably has enough left for one more season. Probably. Maybe. Might. He should be able to fill a TE2 role. Maybe.
Antonio Gates – 37 years old but still dangerous in the red zone and of course, he and Phillip Rivers have a connection. The fans would love it but Gates game had really fallen off.
The signing of anyone but Bennet would signify a bit of a panic mode by the team, especially at this juncture. The list of available free agents after those listed above gets pretty ugly but there is some solid blocking, TE2 type talent available so the team can wait to see if they already have that role filled with what they have on the team now. There should also be some solid TE talent available after the final roster cuts, so again, the team is not pressured to make a move now in order to fill a backup role.
The real decision is on Virgil Green and if the team thinks he can fill the TE1 role. If they do then they are set. They seem to have plenty of TE2 talent on board and if not there is more available. We will find out more as the second wave of OTA’s hit. If the team stands pat before, and more importantly after that is a good sign Green is doing just fine.
Rivers makes his receivers better, not the other way around, so Green should be better than he was at Denver where he played with a rotating cast of misfits at the position and was still able to produce. The club is now feeding off the running game and blocking is key, yet a team needs solid TE production to move the sticks and as a threat in the end zone.
“Philip Rivers to Green for six!” needs to be a phrase used often in 2018.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over