When the Chargers drafted tight end Hunter Henry in the second round of this year’s draft, they hoped he could eventually succeed Antonio Gates. But they may not have expected it to happen so soon.
After last night’s win over the Broncos, there’s little doubt that Henry, the rookie, is the Chargers’ top tight end, while Gates, one of the best tight ends in NFL history, is No. 2.
Henry played 45 offensive snaps while Gates played 31. Henry caught six passes for 83 yards and scored the Chargers’ only touchdown, while Gates had two catches for 16 yards. So far this season Henry has 310 receiving yards. Gates has 81 receiving yards.
After the win over the Broncos, quarterback Philip Rivers gushed about Henry, although he was careful not to make it sound like Gates is being pushed aside.
“He’s awesome, and he’s going to be an awesome tight end,” Rivers said of Henry. “I’m very thankful. He has a long way to go obviously to even say this about him and Antonio. They’re different but I’m thankful, as we transition Antonio – as long as he’s going to be here, hopefully a long time – but to have a guy like Hunter coming in, I knew he was going to be good, but I didn’t — gosh, he’s a heck of a player. He understands the game and he’s a complete [tight end]. I would describe him as a football player. That’s the ultimate compliment my dad would say, if he called somebody a football player and I’m kind of that way, too. He’s just a football player and I’m so excited he’s here.”
The Chargers have to be very excited to have yet another talented tight end ready to step in for the one who’s heading toward retirement.