Two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Chargers were on the verge of taking control of the NFC West, leading the Kansas City Chiefs on a Thursday night.
Los Angeles couldn’t hold two fourth-quarter leads and 10 days later stumbled in an eminently winnable road game against the Houston Texans. Now the Chargers (8-7) face an uphill battle just to make the playoffs, with Sunday’s game in Los Angeles against the Denver Broncos now an imperative.
Both teams are dealing with COVID-19 issues, with Los Angeles missing some significant players during the week. However, with the NFL reducing the isolation of players from 10 to five days, several of those players could be active for Sunday.
The team got some good news on Wednesday, with edge rusher Joey Bosa, center Corey Linsley, wide receiver Jalen Guyton, and defensive back Trey Marshall coming off the list.
Added, however, were linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. and tackle Storm Norton. They joined on the list tackle Trey Pipkins, safety Alohi Gilman, long snapper Matt Overton, kicker Dustin Hopkins, and cornerbacks Davontae Harris and Michael Davis.
Also, wide receiver Mike Williams, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and safety Nasir Adderley had been ruled out early in the week but could become available if they meet symptom or test specifications.
“Everybody in the NFL is going through a really, really challenging circumstance,” coach Brandon Staley said. “We’re trying to figure it out the best we can.”
Los Angeles has to win out and hope for some help to reach the playoffs, and it starts against a Denver team all but eliminated from the postseason. The Broncos (7-8) have dropped two straight and finish up at home against Kansas City after facing the Chargers.
Denver also got a key player back to the roster Wednesday as center Lloyd Cushenberry III – who missed last week’s game — was activated from the COVID-19 list, and coach Vic Fangio said nose tackle Mike Purcell, who was added to the list Monday, is expected back for the game against the Chargers.
At the same time, the Broncos added three players to the list, most significantly wide receiver Tim Patrick, who has been the most reliable wideout on the team this season, and tackle Calvin Anderson and safety Caden Sterns.
The Broncos might be without safety Kareem Jackson, who didn’t practice Wednesday due to a back/shoulder injury, and linebacker Kenny Young sat out with a concussion.
Quarterback Drew Lock is likely to start his second straight game in place of Teddy Bridgewater, who left the loss to Cincinnati two weeks ago with a concussion. Lock threw for just 153 yards and no touchdowns in the 17-13 loss at Las Vegas last week and he knows he needs to do more if the Broncos are going to beat Los Angeles.
“Being your first start, there’s sometimes a little nerves. Sometimes a little rustiness, sometimes a little this, a little that,” Lock said.
“There’s just a lot that goes into starting a game as an NFL quarterback, and I didn’t think I felt any of that when I went out there. I felt like I’ve been playing all year. When you get to feel like that as a quarterback, that brings comfortableness. You get a lot of positive thoughts in the head, so to say.
“It felt good to be out there. There were zero nerves, zero anxiety, zero anything. So (I’m) looking forward to being able to go back out there feeling that way. Feeling confident, knowing the game plan extremely well, trying to get these guys the balls around me and just making plays when I’m out there.”
–Field Level Media