One of several players to leave the New England Patriots’ training camp practice on Sunday, Hunter Henry is expected to miss some time despite his shoulder injury not being considered serious. While it remains to be seen when he will be able to return to the field, Bill Belichick put the “day-to-day” label on the tight end.
“He’s day-to-day. He’ll come back as he can come back,” Belichick said during his Tuesday press conference.
“Hunter’s a smart guy, he has a lot of experience. He’s been here and done everything that we’ve done as a team, so when we get him back, we’ll get him back there in the pace and schedule that fits his physical situation. But he’ll continue to make progress. There’s still a lot of things he can do. There may be some things that are limitations, like other players have, but we try to focus on what those players can do, not what they can’t do.”
Henry joined the Patriots on a three-year, $37.5 million contract this offseason, and is projected to play a sizable role alongside fellow free agency addition Jonnu Smith this year. With him out for the time being, however, the depth options on New England’s tight end depth chart should receive additional opportunities.
Matt LaCosse and Devin Asiasi appear to be the next men up behind Henry, with Troy Fumagalli and David Wells also currently under contract. Second-year man Dalton Keene, meanwhile, was recently sent to injured reserve and will miss the entire 2021 season.
As for Henry, he might miss “a couple of weeks” according to report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Belichick, however, did not seem overly concerned on Tuesday.
“Hunter has participated in everything that he’s been able to do since he’s been here, so he’s gained a lot of experience in the time that he’s been here. I would say he’s day-to-day, and I would say — and this goes for everybody, not just specifically him — as players improve and they can do more, then we can gradually work them into things,” Belichick noted.
“It’s a little different than the regular season where guys go on different lists. The return process is a little bit different than what it is in training camp, because either you’re getting a guy ready to play or you’re not. And if you’re not, it’s how much time do you want to spend with him when somebody else is actually going to play there in the game?”
Injuries have been a problem for Henry ever since he entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick by the then-San Diego Chargers in 2016. He has yet to play a full season, and has appeared in only 56 of a possible 82 games so far in his career.
The Patriots, however, apparently felt comfortable with Henry’s injury history when they signed him to a deal that includes $25 million in guarantees in March. It now also seems they are comfortable in his ability to return from his current shoulder issue without skipping a beat.