Chargers are limiting Justin Herbert’s practice, injury update, but pain is inevitable

Chargers are limiting Justin Herbert’s practice, injury update, but pain is inevitable

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws during the second half.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert continued to throw in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs despite a rib cartilage injury. (Ed Zurga/Associated Press)

Justin Herbert’s final pass on Thursday was a seven-yard strike to Joshua Palmer.

It remained the most recent throw witnessed by any team outsiders Wednesday after the Chargers practice area was open to the media.

Herbert did some stretching and warmups but otherwise limited his participation in transfers as he deals with a rib cartilage fracture suffered Thursday against Kansas City.

Only the first 20 minutes or so of practice was available for media viewing.

Coach Brandon Staley said Herbert did some “light throwing” and “rotational work” Tuesday at the team’s practice facility. Staley continued to call Herbert “day-to-day” with the Chargers playing Jacksonville on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

“[We’re] just making sure Justin feels like he can do the job the way you know he can do it,” Staley said. “That’s the big thing, he just has the confidence to be able to play the game the way it needs to be played.

“It will be determined as the week goes on, until the game, because when I say it’s ‘day by day’, that’s exactly how it feels. This could go until Sunday.”

Beyond protecting Herbert from further injury, the biggest factor in determining his status will be Herbert’s ability to manage pain.

In the series after being injured, he led the Chargers on a nine-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Herbert was in clear discomfort in the final five minutes of the match, but only missed one game.

Staley said the Chargers will rely heavily on Herbert for the final decision on his availability for Sunday.

“We’re going to listen to Justin, No. 1,” Staley said. “The player is at the forefront of all the decisions we make here since I became head coach. … I think that’s where the modern NFL lies…

“We’ll start with him and then he’ll feel good about what the medical team thinks is best, weigh the options and then we’ll make a good decision.”

No matter what happens this weekend, Herbert will likely be dealing with soreness in his left rib cage area for some time.

Ilan Danan, a sports neurologist and pain management specialist at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute, said full recovery — based on the severity of the injury — can take two weeks to two months.

“The focus and recovery period,” Danan explained, “really depends on the degree of pain and how much one can tolerate.”

Chargers quarterbacks Justin Herbert (10) and Chase Daniel (7) work through drills.

If Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) is unable to play due to injury, Chase Daniels (7) will start in his place Sunday against Jacksonville. (TYPE LINK)

If Herbert can’t play against the Jaguars, Chase Daniel and Easton Stick would be the Chargers’ two quarterbacks. Daniel has been Herbert’s backup since the beginning of last season.

In his 13th year, Daniel has five career starts, with the most recent coming in 2019 with Chicago. Stick has appeared in just one game — for two snaps — since the Chargers drafted him in the fifth round in 2019.

Since the start of the 2006 season, the Chargers have only had three players start at quarterback, and one of them – Tyrod Taylor – has only started one game.

The uncertainty about Herbert comes the same week that a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by Taylor against one of the Chargers’ team doctors was announced.

David Gazzaniga sued Taylor because a pregame injection — intended to help the quarterback manage pain from two broken ribs — resulted in Taylor suffering a punctured lung.

When Taylor was unable to play in that game in Week 2 of the 2020 season, Herbert replaced him minutes before kickoff and has been the Chargers’ starter ever since.

Asked if he was “horrified” about Herbert’s treatment in light of the lawsuit, Staley said, “Any player that goes through something like that … that’s your biggest responsibility as a coach is to take care of your players.

“I think we have full alignment with Justin, his family, his agents and then the medical professionals. That’s what we’re going to try and do is stay aligned that way and just trust the process and hopefully get it right soon.”

The Chargers listed Herbert as a limited participant in practice, and he wasn’t alone as they deal with a handful of significant injuries.

Two Pro Bowlers — center Corey Linsley (knee) and cornerback JC Jackson (ankle) — did not practice Wednesday. Linsley missed the second half against the Chiefs. Jackson made his season debut in Kansas City after passing the Chargers’ opener.

Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) and starting right tackle Trey Pipkins III (ankle) were listed as limited in practice. Allen was injured in Week 1 and Pipkins in the third quarter on Thursday.

Backup tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) was also limited. He hasn’t played yet this season.

Pick Brandon Staley

Saying “I’m responsible for what happened in this game,” Staley took responsibility for Herbert’s fourth-quarter interception that turned into a 99-yard touchdown at Kansas City on Thursday.

Gerald Everett was Herbert’s intended target near the goal line with the Chargers looking to break a 17-17 tie. But the veteran tight end, who appeared to be trying to get out of the game moments earlier, made no move for the ball.

Everett then explained that he was trying to leave the field because he was feeling sore ankle from an injury he suffered in the Chargers’ opener. But with the offense picking up the pace, Everett couldn’t get out.

He had caught passes on the previous two plays as the Chargers moved to the Chiefs’ three-yard line before Jaylen Watson picked off Herbert and ran 99 yards for the game-tying score.

“I saw Gerald,” Staley said. “We felt we could keep him in and dictate the tempo. It was a simple task, a simple professional responsibility. In retrospect, for sure, as a coach I will learn something from this. Operationally, we take full ownership. I think we can all learn from this, but me most of all.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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