This season has not been kind to the Chargers, who sit at 2-3 and suffered their worst loss of the season against divisional rival Denver.
The Bolts have dealt with numerous injuries this season, a trend that continued Wednesday when the team announced that center Mike Pouncey will be out for the season with a neck injury, which he suffered on Sunday against the Broncos.
Despite the latest bad news head coach Anthony Lynn walked into the media center with a smile on his face.
“Might as well have a little bit of juice we have a big ball game Sunday night (against the Pittsburgh Steelers),” said Lynn.
Lynn did not specify if it was a career threatening injury, but he said the team will not only miss him on the field but also his leadership.
The Chargers are now down Derwin James, Adrian Phillips, Russell Okung and Pouncey. They could also be without Melvin Ingram, Michael Badgley, and Hunter Henry against the Steelers. So that means seven starters could be out for a Chargers team that is struggling.
But they aren’t feeling sorry for themselves.
“That’s why I came in smiling,” Lynn said. “We just left the practice field and guys are in great spirits. I don’t think we’re down. We talked about it a little bit. Being down is not going to help. Refocusing, learning, going out and practicing our tail off today… that’s what’s going to help.”
The power of positivity is in the Chargers locker room. Lynn did say that Dan Feeney will start the rest of the season at center and Chargers fan favorite lineman Forrest Lamp will now be the starting left guard.
During training camp, the Chargers coaching staff would give Pouncey rest days and that allowed Feeney to learn the position.
“Don’t want to be put in a position like this, unfortunately, but having the reps definitely does help, which gives me confidence going in there,” explained the third-year player.
In 2017, the Chargers drafted Feeney in the third round and Lynn said on Wednesday that they were planning on starting him at center in 2018, but then they signed Pouncey to a two-year deal and decided to move Feeney back to guard.
“He will step in there and do a solid job,” explained quarterback Philip Rivers. “We are confident in that, but it’s tough losing Mike (Pouncey) though. You have heard publicly what I have said about him and what he means to the group. He brought it every day.”
Rivers sounded very optimistic about his offensive line that now looks very different from last season’s, with the absence of Pouncey and Okung.
When Lynn, Rivers, and Feeney were asked about who the responsibility falls on when it comes to protection communication all three agreed that everyone would have to step up. Feeney said he was ready for the challenge.
Now the Chargers are sitting at 2-3 and are off to their typical slow start. They went from Super Bowl favorites to maybe missing the playoffs, which feels like déjà vu for Rivers.
“In years past, we’ve been at our best when it’s been that way,” Rivers said. “When it’s kinda like, ‘Same old deal. Chargers are hurt. They’re injured and they’re gonna mess it up somehow.’ We’ve been better when it’s been that way.”
And Lynn is keeping his sense of humor in light of a tough first month of the season.
"What is it, Murphy's law? What can go wrong will,” explained Lynn, “Well hell, we've got to go kick Murphy's butt!"
Nuts N’ Bolts
• Chargers tight end Hunter Henry was a limited participant in practice for the first time since injuring his knee since week one of the NFL season.
• Injury report, Did not practice: FS Nasir Adderley (hamstring), K Michael Badgley (right groin), DE Melvin Ingram III (hamstring), RB Justin Jackson (calf), WR Andre Patton (quad). Limited: CB Casey Hayward (back), TE Hunter Henry (knee). Full: P Ty Long (left foot), LB Denzel Perryman (ankle).