As the recipients of some tough injury news late Tuesday with two veterans in Dwight Freeney and Malcom Floyd being placed on IR, the San Diego Chargers have already endured plenty of pain across their roster this season. Unfortunately the bumps and bruises don’t end there as the Bolts appear destined to play their Week 5 game against the rival Oakland Raiders down three starting offensive linemen.
The makeshift line has been a regular thing for San Diego recently, but these pieces are certainly going to be difficult to replace. Left tackle King Dunlap (concussion), left guard Chad Rinehart (toe) and right guard Jeromey Clary (clavicle), along with reserve guard Rich Ohrnberger (groin) are all unlikely to suit up against the Raiders. That makes the question mark at guard an even bigger issue given that Ohrnberger would ordinarily be the guy to step in for the injured Clary. Even starting center Nick Hardwick missed practice on Wednesday, but his absence was not reportedly due to injury which is certainly a relief.
When it comes to plugging these holes and making the metaphorical jigsaw puzzle pieces fit, the Chargers aren’t exactly loaded with depth along the O-line. Swing tackle Michael Harris will undoubtedly take Dunlap’s place once again, Johnnie Troutman will get his second straight start at one guard spot while the recently returning Steve Schilling will likely fill in at the other guard position.
What makes this situation so precarious, however, is the fact that this is it for the reserves in the trenches. The Chargers will only have five healthy linemen on the active roster if in fact these guys are all forced to miss Sunday’s game. It would only seem logical that the team will go out and try to add some depth prior to Sunday if this is the case and practice squad tackle Nick Becton could also be activated, but even the pieces are getting this for the Bolts when it comes to solving this riddle to protect quarterback Philip Rivers.
Head coach Mike McCoy has already overachieved in my opinion with the roster he has. Putting aside the fact that the Chargers are 2-2, they have legitimately had the chance to win all four of their games this season. Their two late field goal losses were fourth quarter collapses where the team just failed to finish off a hard fought contest.
Depth challenges are bound to come up in the course of a season, but the Chargers have been forced to climb a Mt. Everest in terms of difficulty level in that area thus far. Hopefully these early trials lead to better luck down the stretch on the injury report for this squad.