The Los Angeles Chargers were dealt another blow when it was reported that starting linebacker Denzel Perryman would miss a good amount of time after undergoing ankle surgery Tuesday. Luckily, the Chargers have a very good backup plan in Korey Toomer.
Denzel Perryman is a very good player. He’s a rising star at the middle linebacker position. Outside of Chargers fans, many people don’t know a lot about the third-year, hard-hitting thumper out of Miami, which is why I believed he was one of the Chargers’ best-kept secrets.
The 2015 second-round pick took over for an injured Manti Te’o his rookie year and wound up with the highest run-stop percentage (18.3 percent) among all inside linebackers that year, as noted by Pro Football Focus. Perryman, who missed four games due to injury last year, had his ups and downs despite finishing with the third-most combined tackles (72) on the team. He played a big part in the Chargers finishing in the top 10 in rushing defense last year.
We now won’t see Perryman for a while. He suffered an ankle injury in the 2017 preseason opener and underwent surgery to repair said ankle. According to reports, he’ll be out 6-10 weeks.
That one stings. But the Chargers just so happen to have a very good player with starter material backing up Perryman–and that’s Korey Toomer.
Ironically, Toomer, a former fifth-round pick who was signed off the Raiders’ practice squad early last season, also came in to replace an injured Te’o (surprise!) and needed to step up when Perryman missed time, too. He finished with 75 total tackles (second-most on the team), three forced fumbles, two pass deflections, one sack and one fumble recovery in 13 games (eight starts). JUST 13 games. At one point, Toomer led the Chargers in total tackles four consecutive weeks (Weeks 9-13). However, he only had 14 total tackles in the final four games combined.
PFF gave Toomer a solid 81.2 overall grade. Like what Perryman did in 2015, Toomer finished with PFF’s highest-run stop percentage among linebackers (minimum of 121 run snaps) a year later.
Overall, the 28-year-old is a sure tackler with playmaking ability, which is why the Chargers tendered him in the offseason. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder has the speed and athleticism to cover sideline-to-sideline, too. Not only that, but he played for defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who is now with the Chargers, once before when both were members of the Seahawks in 2012, so there’s some familiarity with Bradley’s scheme.
It’s obviously best to have Perryman on the field, but there isn’t that big of a drop-off from Toomer to him. The Chargers are lucky for that.