LA Chargers News

Surprise starters for the Los Angeles Chargers this season

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Justin Jackson #32 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals a first down in the second half during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Justin Jackson #32 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals a first down in the second half during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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CARSON, CA – OCTOBER 07: Tight end Virgil Green #88 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates his touchdown with tight end Sean Culkin #80 at StubHub Center on October 7, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA – OCTOBER 07: Tight end Virgil Green #88 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates his touchdown with tight end Sean Culkin #80 at StubHub Center on October 7, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Chargers regularly feature surprise starters as injuries mount throughout the season. Who are the players who could start this year?

Last year, the Chargers had a few players who were not projected to make a significant impact have a bigger role due to injuries; Michael Davis, Damion Square, and Justin Jackson were among those who logged at least one start. A team is only as strong as its depth late in the season, and in 2019 the Chargers may have to test that depth once again. Here are four players who may be a surprise starter this season…

Chargers surprise starter: Cortez Broughton, DT

This would be a surprise, but not because of talent. Broughton is currently buried on the depth chart behind former third-round pick Justin Jones and this year’s first-round selection Jerry Tillery at defensive tackle. As a rookie seventh-round selection with no NFL experience, Broughton has the least amount of leverage to become a starter. Fortunately, he’s great at one thing: Blowing plays up.

My word. Cincinnati’s Cortez Broughton just taking UCLA’s RG for a brisk walk to the QB. There’s been some Twitter draft buzz about him and I’m finally getting a chance to watch. pic.twitter.com/ncSZcdlk6c

— ryan wilson (@ryanwilsonCBS) April 15, 2019

18.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks would make any defensive tackle blush, but that’s just what No. 96 did in his final year in college. Given the age of Brandon Mebane, the injury to Tillery, and the unknown of Justin Jones, Broughton may find himself in the starting rotation sooner than later. Like seventh-round selections Isaac Rochell and Justin Jackson before him, Broughton could continue the recent trend of late-round picks finding starting action throughout the year.

Chargers surprise starter: Virgil Green, TE

A start from Virgil Green means one thing: Hunter Henry got hurt. Though fans would prefer to see the dominant former second-round selection connect with Philip Rivers all season long, it is not out of the realm of possibility Henry goes down again. Two years ago it was a kidney injury, and last year it was an ACL tear. Hopefully it’s nothing this year, but if No. 86 were to sustain an injury this season, Green would be the next man up.

Green caught 19 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown last season, proving to be more a blocker with receiving ability than anything. With Antonio Gates not currently with the team and Sean Culkin’s inexperience, however, Green is the best remaining option on the roster at tight end.

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