Already down to their second left tackle, the San Diego Chargers received more bad injury news on Wednesday. Mike Harris, backup offensive tackle and a starter for the past three games, will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.
Harris was having an excellent season filling in for injured starting left tackle King Dunlap, who is still recovering from a concussion. Harris started three games in 2013, one at right tackle in place of D.J. Fluker and the last two at left tackle in place of Dunlap. Harris was probably the most improved player from last season, along with Philip Rivers, who is much improved because of the protection he is getting from guys like Harris.
Harris, if you remember, started at left tackle due to injury last season as an overwhelmed, undrafted rookie. Though the results were much better this year in his second season, he was absolutely terrible last year and perhaps had the worst season ever for an offensive lineman in NFL history.
With Harris out, the Chargers now are desperate for Dunlap to return or else they could be in for a similar situation starting undrafted rookie Nick Becton at left tackle. The Chargers should know more than any team that undrafted rookies at key positions like left tackle should not be thrust into starting duty due to injury. Not only that but Becton is extremely raw and only had one year of starting experience in college. He is a developmental project with upside, not an adequate protector of Rivers’ blindside.
And it’s not like the Chargers are healthy along the rest of the offensive line either. Along with Dunlap, left guard Chad Rinehart has missed the last two games with a toe injury. Considering at one point the Chargers entire offensive line was out or limited due to injuries, it’s only a matter of time before someone else goes down.
San Diego has shown good depth along the offensive line with strong performances from backups Mike Harris and Johnnie Troutman. But with Harris out, the depth behind left and right tackle is essentially wiped out entirely.
Dunlap, please come back soon.