Hunter Henry was part of a high-profile group of players that had to leave the New England Patriots’ training camp practice on Sunday with apparent injuries. While an MRI will confirm the severity of the shoulder ailment that forced him to end the session early, early signs point towards a non-serious injury.
That said, according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the ailment is still a painful one that could force Henry to “miss time in the preseason.”
Henry first arrived in New England earlier this offseason, signing a three-year contract with the team worth $37.5 million. The deal already set high expectations for the 26-year-old: he is supposed to help rebuild one of the worst tight end groups in the league together with fellow free agency acquisition Jonnu Smith.
While Henry appeared to be on a good way heading into Sunday’s practice, his injury could now change his trajectory even if not of the long-term type. Henry, after all, is still adapting to life in New England and building chemistry with quarterbacks Cam Newton and Mac Jones.
In general, 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.
With him now possibly sidelined into the preseason, the depth tight ends on New England’s roster have a golden opportunity to prove themselves alongside Jonnu Smith. Matt LaCosse and Devin Asiasi appear to be the next men up, with Troy Fumagalli and David Wells also currently under contract. Second-year man Dalton Keene was just recently sent to season-ending injured reserve.
The Patriots will play their first preseason game of the year on Thursday versus the Washington Football Team. They will later travel to Philadelphia for joint practices and another exhibition matchup with the Eagles. New England will close the preseason on August 29th against the New York Giants.