The bad breaks continue for the Los Angeles Chargers, as quarterback Justin Herbert has sustained a finger injury for the second time this season.
Denver Broncos defensive lineman Zach Allen (99) knocks down Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. (Image: Getty)
Herbert fractured the middle finger on his left hand in Week 4 in a victory against the Las Vegas Raiders. The injury was on his non-throwing hand, and Herbert didn’t miss any time.
In Week 14, Herbert fractured the right index finger on his throwing hand in a loss against the Denver Broncos. He will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine how many games he’ll miss, or if he’s out for the remainder of the season.
It is something that we’ll know more as the week goes on and if there’s any chance to play, I’ll do everything I can to be out there,” said Herbert.
The Raiders host the Chargers on “Thursday Night Football” in Week 15. The Chargers were a -4 favorite on the look-ahead line. Oddsmakers don’t expect Herbert to play on a short week, which is why the Raiders are currently a -3 favorite.
The Chargers (5-8) are nearly eliminated from playoff contention mathematically. According to a postseason projection from Upshot, the Chargers have less than a 1% chance to secure an AFC wild-card spot.
Herbert’s injury has a bigger impact on fantasy football players, with fantasy league playoffs beginning in Week 15.
62-Game Streak at Stake for Herbert
Herbert, 25, hasn’t missed a game since he took over as the starter for the Chargers early in his rookie season. He’s started 62 games in a row, which marks the second-longest active streak for NFL quarterbacks behind Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, who has 84 consecutive starts.
At the start of the 2022 season, Herbert suffered fractured rib cartilage but played through the painful injury and didn’t miss any games last year.
It’s obviously tough,” added Herbert. “You feel bad for hanging the team out like that. You never want to be taken out of the game.”
The most recent finger injury occurred in the second quarter on a passing play. Broncos defensive end Zach Allen knocked Herbert to the ground.
“I can’t remember whether it got hit on a helmet or whether it hit on someone’s shoulder pads,” explained Herbert. “I just remember coming up, and it wasn’t feeling right.”
Herbert finished the series but couldn’t grip the football and headed to the locker room. The Chargers trailed 7-0 when backup quarterback Easton Stick came off the bench.
Since the start of October, Herbert has fractured two fingers.
Next Man Up: Easton Stick
Stick, a former FCS champion with North Dakota State, has been a backup on the Chargers since they selected him with a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Stick is a legend in Fargo, and he still holds a record for most wins by a starting quarterback in FCS play. He posted a 49-3 record as a starter for the North Dakota State Bison between 2015 and 2018. He succeeded Carson Wentz at quarterback and preceded Trey Lance.
I hadn’t played in a while, but that’s part of the job,” Stick said. “I’ve been here five years. Got to watch Justin, and watched Philip Rivers play, and play really well. That’s the standard. Just went out there and tried to compete, did the best I can.”
If Herbert is unable to play in Week 15 against the Raiders on Thursday, then Stick will make his first start. Stick never got a chance to play because Herbert hasn’t missed a game since he took over as the starter in 2020.
Stick completed 13 of 24 passes for 179 yards against the Broncos in his only action this season.
Stick engineered the team’s only scoring drive with the Chargers down 17-0 in the fourth quarter. He hooked up with rookie wide receiver Quentin Johnston on consecutive plays, including a 57-yard reception. The Chargers marched downfield for 94 yards in a five-play drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run by Austin Ekeler. The Chargers trimmed the deficit 17-7, but the Broncos scored again and won 24-7.
Disappointing 2023 Season for the Bolts
The Chargers have been in a tailspin since they blew a 27-point lead during last year’s AFC wild-card weekend. The Jacksonville Jaguars rallied back after a 27-0 deficit and stunned the Chargers with a 31-30 victory.
I’m hurting for everybody in that locker room,” said Chargers head coach Brandon Staley after the historic collapse. “This is the toughest way that you can lose in the playoffs.”
The Chargers began this season with a 2-3 record, and all five of those games were decided by one score.
Since their early bye in Week 4, the Chargers have gone 3-6.
After the Chargers play the Raiders on Thursday Night Football, they host the Bills in Week 16. They then head to Denver to play the Broncos on New Year’s Eve for their final road game of the season before ending with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 18.
All signs suggest Staley will be fired after this disappointing season. Staley needed to guide the Chargers to a playoff berth to keep his job. With a talented young quarterback like Herbert on the roster, the Chargers will have no shortage of candidates seeking to become their next head coach. Ben Johnson, the offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, is the front-runner to become the Chargers’ next head coach.
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