The Los Angeles Chargers showed great improvement last week, but they will face a much greater challenge this week. Will they be able to take advantage of injuries to build on their momentum from last week’s win?
The Chargers broke their losing streak last week with an exciting beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars. With a nearly healthy team, the Chargers proved to be far too much for the hapless Jaguars to handle.
While still healthy, the Chargers will get a chance to prove their strength against an NFC playoff-level opponent in the Minnesota Vikings. How will injuries impact the game for the Chargers?
Uchenna Nwosu, Linebacker – Questionable (Ankle)
The Chargers’ Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee, Nwosu, is questionable against the Vikings with an ankle injury. He completed each practice this week as a limited participant.
While Nwosu has been utilized mainly as a third-down edge rusher again this year, he showed his great ability while replacing Melvin Ingram earlier in the year while Ingram was gone with a hamstring injury.
While the Chargers have plenty of edge rushers without Nwosu, one can never have too many in the NFL. This week, that may be especially important, as the Vikings’ quarterback, Kirk Cousins, struggled to begin the year due to a high-pressure rate.
Kirk Cousins has thrown significantly more passes while under pressure than any other quarterback in the league so far this season. pic.twitter.com/MjOOptVCz8
— PFF (@PFF) October 2, 2018
Nwosu could make a significant impact in this game if he is available for the Chargers.
Important Players on IR: Mike Pouncey, Forrest Lamp
Chargers’ Opponents’ Injuries
Alexander Mattison – Out (Ankle)
The Vikings will be missing backup running back Alexander Mattison this week.
This is an especially important loss for the Vikings, who have one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL. While clearly playing second behind Dalvin Cook, Mattison has been routinely utilized by the Vikings, especially in the last two weeks with Cook dealing with a shoulder injury.
In the place of Mattison, the young, inexperienced Mike Boone will be taking snaps. This player could be one to exploit for Los Angeles, as young players are far more likely to have ball security issues, especially in their first major playing time.
Bisi Johnson, Wide Receiver – Questionable (Quad)
With or without Johnson, the Vikings are very likely to frequently deploy two tight end sets featuring Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. Despite these talented pass-catching tight ends, receiving depth is slim to none behind Johnson, as next in line for the Vikings is the underachieving Laquon Treadwell. Johnson’s presence would become very important if the Vikings were forced to air it out if playing from behind.
Xavier Rhodes, Cornerback – Questionable (Ankle)
Vikings star corner, Xavier Rhodes, has had a down season by his standards, but he remains an important piece of a talented Vikings defense.
According to Vikings’ coach, Mike Zimmer, Rhodes is expected to play without any limitations. Therefore, the Chargers’ receivers should be expecting tight coverage from the talented Vikings corners.
Jayron Kearse, Safety – Out (Toe)
Kearse, the Vikings backup strong safety, is out with a toe injury this week. His injury will mainly impact special teams and could cause the Vikings to be without much safety depth if another injury were to occur at the position.
More from Bolt Beat
- LA Chargers: 3 early takeaways from 2021 minicamp thus far
- LA Chargers: Drue Tranquill takes a jab at Gus Bradley’s defense
- LA Chargers second-year players: Nothing to lose and a lot to gain
- LA Chargers: Why running back could be a big issue for the Bolts
- LA Chargers: Chris Rumph’s upside is Melvin Ingram-like, but better
Injury Impact Report
Minnesota Vikings Injury Impact: 4
While the Vikings have several injuries, most of these injuries are to players that are backups at their respective positions.
With Rhodes appearing ready to play, the Vikings’ only major injuries are to two high-impact backups in Mattison and Johnson. Should another injury occur at either running back or receiver, the Vikings would be in dire straits at the respective position. Still, they should manage with the top-level starters they have at each position.
Los Angeles Chargers Injury Impact: 4
The Chargers only have one new injury of note in Nwosu. While Nwosu typically plays near only 30 percent of defensive snaps each week, he could be important to defeating the Vikings with his strong pass-rushing skills.
More importantly, the Chargers’ two season-ending injuries on the offensive line (Mike Pouncey and Forrest Lamp) loom large against a strong Vikings defensive front.
If the Chargers are able to hold up on the line against the Vikings without two starters, they will have a good chance to upset a strong Vikings team.