Chargers News: Justin Herbert injury update, DeAndre Hopkins makes QB preferences clear

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) waits during a timeout during the third quarter
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) waits during a timeout during the third quarter / Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY

Justin Herbert showed extreme toughness by gutting through a fractured rib cartilage last season and the hope is the former No. 4 overall pick -- and his pass-catchers -- will stay upright as the LA Chargers eye their first playoff win since 2018.

While Herbert's ribs were a national storyline for months, the quarterback surprised just about everyone when he underwent offseason surgery on his non-throwing shoulder to repair a torn labrum.

It's unclear when Herbert suffered the injury, but the Pro Bowler took numerous big hits last campaign. While the offensive line was largely to blame for that, Herbert has to be smarter as far as knowing when to put his body on the line or live to fight another down.

Despite the injury-riddled year, Herbert started all 17 games and all signs point to the QB being ready for the start of training camp, which has been the plan all along.

At Monday's OTAs practice, Herbert participated in conditioning drills, but didn't throw much. Herbert threw to WRs last week in the second phase of the offseason program, but was limited to warmups and individual drills before Easton Stick and Max Duggan took over during 7-on-7 drills.

Chargers: Justin Herbert injury update, latest on DeAndre Hopkins

Again, this has been the plan all along. Brandon Staley even told reporters that Herbert is right on track in his recovery and throwing program.

Speaking of Herbert's receivers, LA has lightly been linked as a potential landing spot for DeAndre Hopkins. Now a free agent after the Cardinals released him, the Chargers' $12.612 million in available cap space should be enough to get Hopkins through the door assuming the latest reports on his market are true.

The Chargers are stacked at receiver, but only on paper and in name value. Fans remember all to well that Keenan Allen took longer than expected to return from a hamstring injury last year, while Mike Williams missed four more games and still has played one full season since he was drafted in 2017.

While LA drafted Quentin Johnson in the first round in April, Herbert made Hopkins shortlist of quarterbacks he'd like to play with. Appearing on the I AM ATHLETE podcast, Hopkins named Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Herbert as the top five QBs he wants to catch passes from.

Yes, the Chargers have Herbert's looming contract extension to consider, but it's not everyday premium-level receivers openly say they want to play for a certain team(s).

With so much uncertainty surrounding the health of Allen and Williams, plus the wonky track record of rookie WRs hitting the ground running, Tom Telesco and company should at least kick the tires on signing Hopkins.

Next. DeAndre Hopkins-AFC West . Chargers AFC West hopes could hinge on Hopkins chase . dark