One of the intriguing matchups of Week 9 of the NFL season is the game against the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Chargers. Both teams have sophomore quarterbacks in Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts. On top of that, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was calling plays for the Chargers in 2020.
The Eagles just thrashed the winless Detroit Lions 44-6, and the Chargers dropped a game to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
But, the latest report on Wednesday is not pleasing for Chargers fans regarding their superstar quarterback, and it might throw a major wrench into their chances on Sunday.
Justin Herbert’s availability might be a concern for the Chargers
The former Oregon Ducks star has come into the NFL and caught everybody by surprise. In a year and a half, he has looked nothing like a young quarterback, instead looking like a star and a future MVP winner in this league.
However, Herbert was limited at practice on Wednesday as he deals with a hand injury — to his throwing hand, of all places (h/t Nick Shook of NFL.com).
Per the report, Herbert sustained the injury in the Week 3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs but has toughed it out. However, the fact that he was limited on Wednesday is a massive concern for the Chargers’ chances.
To make things worse, star running back Austin Ekeler was dealing with a hip injury last week, and his status was up in the air, although he ended up playing — and playing well, for that matter.
Regardless, the fact that Herbert registered a limited practice will be worth monitoring heading into Sunday’s game. The Chargers have two straight losses — the other one to the Baltimore Ravens before the bye week — and are trying to do whatever it takes to keep pace, especially with the Chiefs struggling.
Herbert’s mysterious hand injury occured against the Patriots
Somehow, this hand injury has been kept under the radar. Then again, Herbert hasn’t looked the least bit bothered by it.
Despite the recent losing skid, Herbert’s season numbers are impressive. The sophomore signal-caller has accumulated 1994 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. On the other hand, half of those interceptions have gone in the past two games, and Herbert’s play against the Patriots has been a talking point in LA.
However, it appears that he injured his hand in that loss to the Patriots, as Daniel Popper of The Athletic points out.
But, as Popper reports, this new injury is separate from the one he went through during the victory at Arrowhead Stadium, which is even more reason to be concerned.
It is not a surprise that any potential absence of Herbert would be detrimental to this team, even with Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams among the weapons featured on this potent offensive unit. The last thing this team needs is an injury to their star quarterback, especially with a clear path to the AFC West crown.
Chase Daniel would be the next man up for the Chargers if Herbert can’t go
If Herbert can’t go, Chase Daniel — the long-time journeyman — would be the starter, or so it seems. In the offseason, the veteran joined the Chargers on a one-year deal to reunite with new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who came over from the New Orleans Saints to join Brandon Staley’s coaching staff.
It isn’t that Daniel is bad, but nobody can replace the talent and skill level of Herbert, who just weeks ago was thrown into the NFL MVP conversation.
A lot can change before Sunday, as evidenced by Ekeler’s situation and his surprising reveal. However, this is a concern for LA, who are already spiraling downwards after a 4-1 start to the season and are trailing the Las Vegas Raiders for the top spot in the AFC West.
All eyes are on Herbert and his health heading into Sunday in what could be a game-changing scenario.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference