As the Chargers prepare for a playoff run that'll begin in Baltimore on Sunday, which comes after an impressive 12-4 regular season, help in the form of one of the best tight ends in football is on the way.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn revealed that Henry will practice with the first-team offense this week ahead of Wild Card Weekend., the Chargers left the door open for him to return some point late in the year by regardless of how unlikely it seemed at the time. That point seems to have arrived. On Monday,
"I believe the knee is stable," Lynn said, per NFL.com. "Did some things last week and I thought he looked really good. Now it's just about his conditioning, getting back the chemistry with our offense and just playing football."
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Henry is expected to play against the Ravens on Sunday. It's a huge addition for a team that is already arguably the most complete team in the AFC. Even without Henry, the Chargers finished the regular season averaging 26.8 points per game. By DVOA, their offense ranked third, trailing only the Rams and Chiefs. They did it without getting much production out of their tight ends. The ageless Antonio Gates led the tight end group with 333 yards and two touchdowns while Virgil Green chipped in with 210 yards and one score.
Henry, at full strength, represents a substantial upgrade. In 2016, he caught 36 passes for 478 yards and eight touchdowns. Last season, he caught 45 passes for 579 yards and four touchdowns, and graded out as Pro Football Focus' second-best tight end, behind only Rob Gronkowski. He's a good blocker and pass catcher. If he's healthy and close to full speed, he'll be a huge addition ahead of what could be a lengthy playoff run.
The only reason the Chargers have to play on Sunday is because they were stuck in the same division as the Chiefs, who also went 12-4, but held the tiebreaker over the Chargers. Only the Rams and Saints won more games than the Chargers. And they did that without one of their most important offensive players, who is now likely to return just when they need him.
Less than two weeks ago, the Chargers lost to the Ravens 22-10 in a game that turned on a Gates fumble that was returned the distance.