Why Hunter Henry Is Having So Much Fun In First Season With Patriots

'I've really enjoyed being here'

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It’s safe to say Hunter Henry has no regrets about his decision to sign with the New England Patriots.

The veteran tight end on Wednesday said his first season in New England has been arguably the most enjoyable of his NFL career.

“It’s been a fun season,” Henry said in a video conference. “Obviously, there was a lot of new things going on — new area, new team, new culture. I felt like I meshed in well with it. I’ve really enjoyed being here. I’ve really enjoyed the season, too, and everything that’s come with it. The good, the bad, learning.

“I feel like I’ve become a better football player — overall, scheme, everything. It’s been a pleasure, and I’ve really enjoyed this season more than I probably have almost any other season that I’ve had. It’s been a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to keep going and excited for this week ahead.”

Henry, who spent his first five pro seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, has been a valuable addition to the Patriots’ offense. Though his per-game reception and yardage marks are his lowest since his rookie year, he’s been a weapon in the red zone, hauling in a team- and career-high nine touchdown passes from rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Henry also has zero dropped passes on 69 targets this season.

“I think a fresh start has been fun,” Henry said. “I think growing with this new offense that I’m in has been fun. I think being a part of Patriots Nation now is fun — the fans, the city and everything that is behind us. I can feel that and see that, especially at home games. It’s been a blast.”

Henry’s been durable, too, appearing in every game for the first time in his career. The 27-year-old said that achievement “means a lot” to him after he dealt with a steady drumbeat of injuries during his Chargers tenure.

“It’s very significant,” Henry said. “I’ve battled my injuries, battled a lot of things that kept me off the field that honestly sometimes were out of my control.”

The Patriots’ training program, Henry said, has helped him “really change (his) body,” cutting down his body fat and significantly increasing his lower-body strength.

“I’m very thankful that I came here, because definitely, the program has been great,” he said. “I definitely changed my body, and it’s paid off for me week in and week out.”

The Patriots will continue to lean on Henry as they advance into the postseason. Since he entered the NFL in 2016, Henry has played in just one playoff game: the Chargers’ 2018 divisional-round loss at Gillette Stadium.

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