The Los Angeles Chargers suffered a brutal loss to the Tennessee Titans last week, and the team is rapidly approaching win-or-die mode on the season. How will injuries impact the Chargers gameplan against the Chicago Bears?
At 2-5, the Chargers are quickly running out of losses that they can afford before completely falling out of playoff consideration.
So how will the Chargers work to overcome their injuries and take advantage of the Bears’ injuries in this important Week 8 matchup? Find out below.
Justin Jackson, Running Back – Questionable (Calf)
While Jackson’s injury initially seemed insignificant with Melvin Gordon’s return, the Chargers running game has performed poorly in Jackson’s absence. If Jackson is able to go, his addition to the running back stable could be a difference-maker (if Ken Whisenhunt chooses to use him more instead of Gordon).
Derek Watt, Fullback – Questionable (Knee)
For some inexplicable reason, Whisenhunt has been frequently running from the shotgun formation, making Watt’s job obsolete. However, based on past weeks, it appears that Watt’s presence will be the difference between winning and losing.
This funny stat continues: Last year the Chargers were 8-1 when Derek Watt received 10+ snaps on offense.
This year, it's happened just once.
In their only win…
I'm not here to rate his play during those snaps, I just can't help but continue to notice the pattern.
— Bolt Beat (@BB_Chargers) September 24, 2019
Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver – Questionable (Hamstring)
Just to add to the obstacles that the Chargers are facing, Allen suffered a (seemingly) relatively minor hamstring injury during the week.
Whether the injury is minor or not, if the Chargers are forced to play without their top wide receiver for even a week, it could be near devastating at this point. Allen has had a fantastic year, and his loss would significantly impair an ailing Chargers offense.
The Bears have a good cornerback duo of Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara. Allen will be needed to give Philip Rivers a target that he can reliably release the ball to quickly when he is inevitably placed under heavy pressure in this game. Hopefully, Allen will be available, or the Chargers offense could be in trouble.
Russell Okung, Offensive Tackle – Unlisted on injury report (Pulmonary Embolism)
Okung is back! Anthony Lynn and Okung have confirmed that Okung is ready to play and will be activated against the Bears this Sunday.
However, Chargers fans should temper their excitement a bit. According to Lynn (reported by Eric Williams of ESPN), Trent Scott is likely to take the majority of the reps at left tackle this week, and Okung will be progressively worked into the lineup as he gets back into NFL game shape.
Fans should be ecstatic about Okung’s return, but his impact may not be significant in this game. A fully healthy Okung would be a great asset in blocking the talented Bears edge-rushing duo of Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd, but those responsibilities will mostly remain with Scott and Sam Tevi for another week.
Forrest Lamp, Guard – Out, IR (Ankle)
For another year, Lamp is going to experience the same fate as he did the last two years – injured reserve. After three straight years of injuries, the future of the Western Kentucky product is in question.
However, the focus this week is beating the Bears. Without Lamp, Dan Feeney moved to guard and Scott Quessenberry filled in at center. Last week, Quessenberry’s performance earned him Bolt Beat’s offensive game ball of the week.
However, Feeney’s performance was awful, particularly in pass protection, earning him the number two spot on Bolt Beat’s list of worst performances last week. Without Lamp, the offensive line is taking another hit just as it appeared to be improving with Okung.