The Los Angeles Chargers have shocked the NFL with a 4-1 start to the year that includes victories over the Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cleveland Browns. Justin Herbert is playing at an MVP level and earning massive compliments from many former NFL players as he continues to set records.
This weekend, the Chargers have a huge matchup with the Baltimore Ravens in a battle of 4-1 teams. However, LA was dealt some massive injury news after Sunday’s victory against the Browns as Oday Aboushi suffered a torn ACL and is now out for the season.
This is yet another injury to the Chargers’ offensive line that has been hit hard over the past few seasons and will be tough to overcome.
Oday Aboushi was playing his best ball to start the year
The Chargers invested heavily in the offensive line during the free agency period. General manager Tom Telesco brought in Matt Feiler, Aboushi and spent a ton to sign Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley from the Green Bay Packers.
LA already has Bryan Bulaga on the injured reserve, which forced Storm Norton into the starting group. Nonetheless, this unit has done an excellent job to start the season. Herbert works wonders either way, but having solid protection is something the Chargers have lacked in recent years.
Aboushi signed a one-year deal with the Chargers and now will miss the remainder of the season. Before joining LA, the nine-year NFL veteran was most recently with the Detroit Lions. He spent time with the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, and the New York Jets.
The timing of the injury is unfortunate, especially since Aboushi was finally finding his niche with the Chargers and providing solid protection for Herbert and running back Austin Ekeler.
Who steps in for Aboushi?
The Chargers wasted no time and signed Senio Kelemete off the San Francisco 49ers practice squad on Tuesday to bring in more reinforcements up front. However, the immediate stopgap figures to be Michael Schofield.
The Chargers could rotate the line a bit whenever Bulaga returns and consider sliding Norton over to fill Aboushi’s spot. Still, Schofield will have a fair shot to earn the job starting on Sunday against a tough Ravens defensive front.
The good news is that Linsley and rookie sensation Rashawn Slater have played marvelously this season, with Slater handling some of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Still, injuries are never good, and the Chargers have seen a revolving door of offensive linemen over the past couple of seasons.
The injury puts even more pressure on the Chargers superstar quarterback
Herbert has been unbelievable to start the 2021 campaign. He has the Chargers atop the AFC West and toward the top of the AFC, for that matter. The Oregon product has 1576 yards with 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions on the season.
He has led comeback after comeback, including an impressive victory at Arrowhead against Patrick Mahomes and a valiant fourth-quarter comeback effort against Baker Mayfield and the Browns. However, this is now the second starting offensive lineman to go on injured reserve, and it has only been five weeks.
The good news is that Bulaga should be back at some point; at least that’s the hope. Norton has filled in nicely for Bulaga for the time being, and now it is time for Schofield to step up and fill the shoes of Aboushi. Pass protection is as crucial as ever, especially with the brutal schedule the Chargers face.
Herbert will do his thing either way, but the loss of Aboushi is a big one and will force the superstar gunslinger to work even more magic and continue on his spectacular MVP-type season.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference