The news after the Chargers’ dispiriting loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday from coach Brandon Staley was bad, terrible, and worse when it comes to who got hurt:
Star offensive tackle Rashawn Slater out for the year with a torn bicep.
Key wide receiver Jalen Guyton out for the year with a torn ACL.
And four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa out for ‘significant’ time with a groin injury. No specifics given.
Oh, and did we mention that quarterback Justin Herbert’s rib cartilage isn’t magically healed?
The Chargers can probably overcome the loss of Guyton. Star wide receiver Keenan Allen should be back at practice this week. Los Angeles still has Mike Williams and newcomer DeAndre Carter has been excellent on special teams and in the three- and four-wide receiver sets.
Slater is another issue.
Bosa? His loss will be felt by the entire team.
The Bosa Injury, How And When
The first sign Bosa is ailing comes at the 6:20 mark of the All-22 video film on the game replay (if you aren’t watching the All-22 video, are you really a fan?). It’s the Jaguars’ second offensive series.
Bosa had just made a play tackling Jaguars running back Travis Etienne where he lunged to get on Etienne’s back as the ball carrier went by. It’s an incredibly athletic play.
On the next play, Bosa is standing up on the outside shoulder of Jags tight end Chris Manhertz. They engage, Bosa’s right knee bends and sort of flexes out and Bosa loops around as play goes up the middle. When the play ends, Bosa kind of hops and places his right hand on his upper right groin. He stays in the game but is not a factor the rest of the drive as the Chargers force a rare Jaguars punt (it was that kind of day).
How Long Will He Miss?
This isn’t Bosa’s first injury of his seven-year career. He missed four games his rookie year with a hamstring strain, but still finished that season with 10.5 sacks and AP Rookie of the Year.
In 2018, he missed nine games with an injured foot and he missed a handful of games in 2020 with concussions.
So kind of like every even year Bosa gets hurt.
Bosa has led the team in sacks for each of the last three years and has 59.5 in his career.
When it comes to muscle injuries for NFL players, you know the drill, if its torn, that’s usually a season-ender. If it’s a pull, that usually means 4-6 weeks, depending on the player and his position. If it’s a ‘tweak’ then it’s usually a week or two.
My guess is from the way Bosa reacted it looks like a pull. The Chargers have a bye in Week 8 and play Nov. 6 against the Atlanta Falcons. That may be the best case for Bosa’s return.
Who Fills In?
The Chargers made a huge move in the off-season bringing in Khalil Mack to be on the opposite Bosa and Mack has been fantastic, but without Bosa, teams can just slide over to Mack’s side to wall him off, or double team him or chip him with a running back.
Filling Bosa’s spot will probably be Kyle Van Noy. It feels like Van Noy has been around forever. He’s 31 and has bounced around with the Lions, Dolphins and mainly with the Patriots. He’s not the same player Bosa is, but he’s slightly above average. He has 28.5 sacks in his NFL career.
The other option is Chris Rumph II. He’s a bit more of an edge rusher than a down lineman (the Chargers list him as a linebacker). Rumph II was a fourth-round pick out of Duke in 2021.
Van Noy had five tackles in the loss to the Jaguars, while Rumph II had two tackles and broke up a pass. Neither one really distinguished themselves, but no one on the Chargers really did against the Jags all day.
The Slater Loss Looms Even Bigger
Just to be clear, Herbert is still dealing with his rib cartilage injury and now he’s lost his star left tackle, Rashawn Slater, for the season.
Slater may be even harder than replacing Bosa. Big, strong, agile left tackles don’t grow on trees. Slater was a first-round pick in 2021 out of Northwestern. He made the Pro Bowl and was fourth in the AP Rookie of the Year voting.
When Slater came out the Chargers used fourth-year man Storm Norton at left tackle. It didn’t go so well, but Norton was a starter last year for Los Angeles as right tackle and was competent. He’ll do, but don’t be surprised if the Chargers rework the offensive line.
Is There Any Good News For LA?
The Allen news is good. His being back at practice is a sign that he should be good to go against the Texans this week.
Chargers defensive back J.C. Jackson is another injury enigma. He didn’t play last week with an ankle flare-up. He missed Week 1 as well but looked good in the loss to the Chiefs in Week 2.
Remember, NFL teams lie about injuries all the time, so there’s no telling what’s really up with Jackson. We will just have to wait and see.
Herbert will probably only get better with time, but maybe the best news is that the Chargers play the Texans Sunday who are one of two winless teams in the NFL. Houston is 0-2-1 and ranks 27th in rushing offense and 24th in passing yards. The Chargers have opened as 4.5-point favorites.