LA Chargers injury report: Drue Tranquill injury couldn't come at worse time

Cleveland Browns v LA Chargers
Cleveland Browns v LA Chargers / Harry How/GettyImages

The LA Chargers are off to a surprising 4-1 start against some tough opponents this season and wrap up their pre-bye week action in Week 6 on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens pose a big challenge for the Chargers as well as they are one of the five best teams (along with the Chargers) in the AFC. While the Bolts probably have the more talented roster overall, the Ravens have an x-factor in Lamar Jackson, who is facing a defense that is not suited to stop him.

The Chargers' defense has done well in taking away vertical threats this season but has struggled immensely against the run. While the Ravens do not have a workhorse back like Nick Chubb to hand it off to, Lamar Jackson is the best running quarterback in NFL history and that is concerning.

That is even more concerning considering the fact that the Bolts will likely be without Drue Tranquill. Tranquill suffered a pectoral injury towards the end of the team's Week 5 win and while it does not appear to be serious, all signs are pointing to him missing this game.

Losing Drue Tranquill in Week 6 is a massive hit to the LA Chargers defense

Tranquill was starting for the injured Kenneth Murray, who was really struggling early on in the season. Tranquill was playing better than Murray so when Murray went down all the Chargers really lost was depth.

That depth would be much appreciated in this game as the Bolts are going to have to turn to rookie Nick Niemann to play a big number of snaps against the Ravens. While Niemann showed some flashes in the preseason, he is a late-round rookie for a reason and having him in the middle against a quarterback like Lamar Jackson is bad news.

The Bolts were already going to struggle against Jackson and this is only going to make the struggles worse. Tranquill and Derwin James were really the only two players making plays on the defensive side of the football in Week 6. Niemann is not going to make the same defensive plays that Tranquill would make.

The injury appears to only be a one-week injury, especially with the bye week next week, but the timing could not be worse. Against almost any other opponent this season Tranquill's injury could have been something the team could have overcame without too much of an issue.

The team could get creative in replacing Tranquill and it would require Derwin James to play fewer roles. James has worn many different hats on this defense as Brandon Staley really stresses the importance of matchups on the defensive side of the ball.

The Chargers' secondary can more than hold up against Baltimore's pass-catchers. With Tevaughn Campbell's success this season and Chris Harris Jr. being healthy, the LA Chargers could, in theory, play James mostly at linebacker in this game.

We know James can do it and it isn't a terrible idea to put the most athletic defensive player in the middle of the field with the sole purpose of slowing Lamar Jackson down. The team can then put Campbell at slot corner and Harris at safety.

With Michael Davis on Marquise Brown and Asante Samuel Jr. on Sammy Watkins that is not a terrible outlook.