LA Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill suffered a potentially season-ending injury in Week 1.
The LA Chargers already suffered a big blow to the defense in training camp when Derwin James tore his meniscus and warranted himself out for the season. Early into the first game of 2020, the defense (and special teams) took another huge blow.
Breakout candidate Drue Tranquill fell awkwardly on his leg while being blocked early in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals. His lower leg got caught underneath him and bent a direction that lower legs are not supposed to bend.
He had to be carted off the field and was visibly shaken up by the injury. While an official report has not yet been made, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the early indications are that it is a broken ankle.
Even without an official report, we can conclude that Tranquill will likely be out for quite some time. The way the injury looked and the way he reacted was not positive. He is most likely going to be out for the year, I would assume.
Head coach Anthony Lynn even said after the game that he is not expecting Tranquill back any time soon (h/t Daniel Popper, The Athletic).
The impact of Drue Tranquill’s injury for the LA Chargers:
This obviously leaves a hole in the linebacker room, but luckily for the Chargers, they have guys to replace him.
Former Bengal Nick Vigil came in right away to replace Tranquill and he was on the field a fair amount of the time. Vigil was not the kind of impact player that Tranquill is, but he was making sure tackles and was not a negative defensively.
He is going to split the load with Denzel Perryman, who forced a fumble for the Chargers’ first takeaway of the year. Perryman is a bit redundant with Kenneth Murray on the field but this opens the door for a larger workload for the veteran linebacker and to give credit where credit is due, he looked solid in Week 1.
Perryman is also not as green in pass coverage as Murray. For that reason, we might see more of Perryman and Vigil out there together against a team like the Kansas City Chiefs because of the high-powered offense.
This also opens the door for a different Notre Dame prospect, Asmar Bilal. Bilal is on the Bolts’ practice squad and is one of the best players on the practice squad. He narrowly missed out on being on the final roster but now has a chance to be activated and be a rotational backer for the defense.
More importantly, Bilal is a sure tackler that should be a positive addition to the special teams unit. He is no Tranquill, but he has the skillset to shock the Chargers in special teams and will be a much-needed bandage to cover this loss for the Bolts.
That is one silver lining of this injury. Bilal is an exciting UDFA prospect that really could blossom into an impact role player on this defense in the future. Now, the Chargers can fast-track his development by giving him a role on special teams without throwing him to the wolves completely on defense.
At the end of the day, it still is a big loss for the LA Chargers but they do have options moving forward.