Arguably the most important player not named Eric Weddle on the San Diego Chargers defense could miss the remainder of the season. Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney suffered a torn quadriceps muscle in Sunday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, and will miss significant time and possibly be sidelined for the rest of the season. At 33-years-old, one has to wonder also if Freeney’s career may be over.
Freeney signed a 2-year, $8.75-million deal in May, days after the Chargers lost outside linebacker Melvin Ingram to a torn ACL. Though the stats say he has recorded just two tackles and half a sack through four games, Freeney has been a critical part of the Bolts defense and has led the team in quarterback hits and pressures. He was unblockable against the Houston Texans in the season opener and has looked dominant at times in his four games in blue and gold.
With Freeney out, the Chargers, who already struggled in their pass rush, are extremely thin at outside linebacker. Likely starting in his place will be fifth-year former first-round pick Larry English, who has all the tools to be successful but has just 9.5 career sacks. Fellow starter Jarret Johnson has averaged just two sacks per season in his 11-year career, though he already has two this season. Rookie Tourek Williams has no sacks so far and will be thrust into a bigger role earlier than what the Chargers would’ve liked for in their developmental sixth-round pick. Thomas Keiser could also get promoted from the practice squad.
Defensive ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes, who both notched sacks on Sunday, will also be counted on to step up in Freeney’s absence.
For a team that’s looked better than expected and still has a shot at the playoffs, this injury hurts the team a lot. Let’s hope Melvin Ingram can return in November to help the Bolts in their late-season push.