Justin Herbert will likely be missing his favorite target Thursday night.
LA Chargers star wide receiver Keenan Allen has the dreaded ‘questionable’ tag on him after suffering a hamstring strain in the Chargers’ 24-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday. NFL pundit Ian Rapoport tweeted that Allen would have an MRI on his leg.
The short turnaround time from Sunday to Thursday, plus the fact that it’s only Week 2 in the regular season would indicate that it’s probably in the Chargers’ best interests for Allen not to play against Kansas City.
Wouldn’t the Chargers prefer to solve this issue now, and not have it linger too far into the season?
The good news for Los Angeles is the Chargers appear to have some resources to tap into. Herbert seems like he’s just coming into his own each week and capable of putting up a big performance, but here’s what Allen’s injury means for him and the Chargers going forward.
Calling for No. 1
One of the talks of training camp for the Chargers was wide receiver DeAndre Carter. He has quite the NFL story. Carter, now 29 years old, came out of Sacramento State and has been in the NFL since 2015. He was a practice squad guy for a few years, then finally moved up to an active roster in 2018 with the Houston Texans and then the Philadelphia Eagles.
Carter first got noticed through his ability to run back kicks. Last year with the Washington Football Team he led the NFC in total return yards and kickoff return average (Washington gave up a lot of points). He’s also played for the Bears.
The Chargers brought him in to boost the kick return game, but he was dynamite in camp according to reports (remember though, everyone has a good camp, camp is meant to make players look good).
Carter made an impact against the Raiders with three catches and scored on a 24-yard TD catch. He’s not as big as Allen, but he’s fast and has shown good hands. He wears No. 1.
If I am a fantasy football guy and I need a player to fill in for Allen this week, Carter would be my pick.
Spreading It Around
Don’t forget though, the Chargers aren’t just a one-man show at receiver. Joshua Palmer was a third-round pick in 2021 and was steady last year with 33 catches. He came on down the stretch. Herbert also has Jalen Guyton and Mike Williams to throw to.
Herbert also loves to throw the ball to his running backs. Austin Ekeler was targeted four times Sunday, backup running back Josh Kelley was targeted twice. Even fullback Zander Horvath had two catches, including a touchdown.
Another weapon to keep in mind is tight end Gerald Everett, the former Rams tight end had three catches for 54 yards against the Raiders.
Herbert looked for 11 different wide receivers against the Raiders. I’m sure the game plan against the Chiefs is for more of the same.
Is Keenan Allen injury prone?
Allen was hurt by injuries early in his career. He missed half of 2015 with a lacerated kidney (that hurts just to type). Charger fans will never forget the 2016 season opener in Kansas City, Allen was carving the Chiefs up (this is pre-Mahomes) with six catches for 63 yards in the first half. The Chargers led 21-3. Then Allen slipped making a cut just after the two-minute warning, boom. It was all over. It was a torn ACL. The Chiefs won the game in overtime, 33-27 and the Chargers finished 5-11.
Allen, 30, returned with a vengeance in 2017 and for the last five years has been one of the most productive wide receivers in franchise history. He has 509 grabs in the last five years and currently is fourth all-time in receiving yards at 8,601. He’s second in catches with 734. Antonio Gates leads the Chargers in both categories.
Before getting hurt, Allen had four catches in the win over the Raiders, including a 42-yard bomb. We talk a lot about QB1’s these days, Allen is WR1 for the Chargers.
At age 30….well, that’s not young and that’s not old for a wide receiver. If it’s just a pull or a ‘tweak’ of his hamstring, that usually takes a few weeks to recover from.