Bad news for the Chargers, the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs not only robbed them of their undefeated record but could also leave them without their starting quarterback, Justin Herbert, who suffered a fractured rib cartilage after the hit that kept him out of the final minutes of Thursday’s game.
Head coach Brandon Staley said a CT scan performed Friday morning confirmed the injury. Staley said the third-year quarterback will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis and his condition will be analyzed again on Monday.
The Chargers (1-1) won’t return to practice until Wednesday, when they will begin preparation to host Jacksonville on Sept. 25. “I think we got some good news in terms of what the CT scan showed. You don’t want it to be a bone fracture. So the fact that its cartilage is a good sign,” Staley said. “It’s going to come down to comfort. Let the weekend go by and when he shows up for the week before the game he’ll have a better feel for how he feels.”
Herbert completed 33 of 48 passes for 334 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He sat out only one play after taking a hit from Kansas City defensive lineman Michael Danna on a pass completion for a 12-yard gain to Gerald Everett with five minutes left.
Herbert went 7-of-11 for 79 yards after the injury, despite feeling a lot of pain on one play and fumbling the ball away on third-and-one when he was able to run for a first-and-10. That span included a fourth-down fumble to DeAndre Carter, which netted a 35-yard gain to the Kansas City eight and then connected with Joshua Palmer on fourth-and-goal for a seven-yard TD pass.
“Nobody cares more than me, Justin. It’s a rough game, and as long as he feels like he can keep going, then he’ll keep playing,” Staley said. “I think he did a great job protecting himself.” Chase Daniel would take his place if Herbert can’t play. The 13-year veteran has played six times as a starter, most recently in 2019, playing for the Chicago Bears.
Kicker JK Scott has been a surprise addition. He locked the Chiefs inside their 20-yard line three times Thursday, and the coverage unit allowed just 6 yards on a pair of returns. Scott’s four kicks inside the 20 in two games have him tied for the second-best mark to start a season in franchise history.
The ground attack looks neutral. In the 55 carry attempts through the first two games, 15 have resulted in no gain or negative yardage and only one went for 10 yards or more. Austin Ekeler averages 2.7 yards per carry, and has struggled when they try to run outside the tackle. Ekeler has been stopped for no gain or already lost yardage on seven of 18 carries.