The 2020 NFL season has been a painful one for the Los Angeles Chargers. Star safety Derwin James suffered a torn meniscus that ended his season before it ever began. Starting center Mike Pouncey also got placed on injured reserve after undergoing season-ending hip surgery. Recently, Melvin Ingram landed on IR due to a knee problem.
To make matters worse, LA just lost another Pro Bowler from its starting lineup. Just three games into his two-year, $17 million contract, Chris Harris sustained a foot injury that will sideline him for an extended period of time. Now, the Chargers must replace yet another veteran starter as they try to climb out of an early 1-2 hole.
Chris Harris joined the Chargers after becoming a star with the Broncos
Chris Harris did not enter the NFL as a first-round draft pick. In fact, he did not get selected at all. Still, the 5-foot-10, 199-pound defensive back performed well in training camp and earned a roster spot with the Denver Broncos. After making an impact as a part-time rookie starter, the former undrafted free agent developed into an indispensable member of Denver’s defense.
From 2012-2018, Harris started at least 15 games in all but two seasons. Along the way, he carved out a reputation as one of the NFL’s top cover corners. Harris and Aqib Talib formed a dominant duo in Denver, which helped the team win a Super Bowl title in 2015.
Despite earning four Pro Bowl berths and two second-team All-Pro selections, Harris did not get a contract extension from the Broncos in recent years. After starring in Denver since 2011, he signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Chargers in March.
Adding Harris to a secondary that already featured James and Casey Hayward looked like a home-run move by general manager Tom Telesco. And with Joey Bosa headlining a talented front seven, the Chargers appeared to have the makings of a Super Bowl-caliber defense.
LA loses its $17 million star
Of course, injuries have already derailed LA’s season. With James and Pouncey out for the year, and Ingram landing on IR recently, the Chargers no longer look quite as imposing.
Once again, though, Anthony Lynn’s team suffered yet another brutal injury blow. Late Monday night, Ian Rapoport reported that Chris Harris sustained a foot injury in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. According to Rapoport, the Chargers’ big free-agent addition will miss between a month to six weeks of the season.
For the Chargers, Harris’ injury erases another key member of their defense. And given the team’s health issues on the offensive side of the ball, it could be a long season for fans of the LA-based franchise.
Can the Chargers overcome their injury woes?
Losing Chris Harris obviously stings, but LA also has to deal with an injury at the most important position in football. A team doctor accidentally punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung while administering a pain-killing injection to treat his fractured ribs. With Taylor unavailable, the Chargers had no choice but to insert rookie Justin Herbert into the starting lineup.
The former Oregon star has performed admirably given his inexperience. In Week 2, Herbert nearly led the Chargers to an upset win against the Kansas City Chiefs. In Week 3, he survived an injury scare and still completed 71% of his passes for 330 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
Moving forward, Anthony Lynn has made it clear that Taylor will regain his starting job back. However, how long it takes until the veteran returns remains a mystery. For now, it seems like Herbert should start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But with Harris out of the lineup, that gives Tom Brady a juicy matchup against a depleted secondary. And if the Chargers fall to 1-3, they will have a difficult time living up to their playoff potential.
Once again, injuries have derailed one of the NFL’s most talented teams.
At least there’s always next year.