In every NFL season there are bound to be some injuries. A coach can be as careful as he likes, injuries are unavoidable. The hope always is a team does not lose its players to unfortunate events. It seems like the injury bug has been working harder than normal so far in the NFL preseason.
The San Diego Chargers, like every other team, hope to get through the season fairly healthy hoping to compete for a playoff spot. This season the team doesn’t appear as deep as they’ve been in the past and injury could derail any hopes of a solid season.
Here are five players the Chargers can’t afford to lose this season:
Weddle serves as the quarterback to an evolving secondary. At times this preseason, the secondary has looked solid; and sometimes they didn’t appear to be on the same page. Weddle is the unquestioned leader of the group and it will be his job to make sure the group gels during the season. If the secondary follows his lead, they can be better than most experts expect.
Mathews is the key to having balance on offense. His talent is not so much in question as is his ability to stay healthy. If he can play all 16 games and be in relative good health, fans may finally see why the Chargers were so excited when they selected him in the first round. He is key to taking pressure off of Philip Rivers.
Gates has been Rivers’ security blanket for years. When he’s healthy, the offense operates at a different level. Defenses have to commit two guys to him even at this stage of his career. His ability to control the middle of the field helps guys get one-on-one situations on the outside. Most importantly, he is a monster in the red zone. The team has no one who can do what he can inside the 5-yard line.
Freeney was brought in to be a legitimate pass rushing threat. The team hopes he figures out the 3-4 defense and how to utilize his skill set in it. None of that is possible if he is on the sidelines. He appears to be eager to prove he has something left in the tank. His veteran presence alone could help the young front seven realize their potential.
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league and the Chargers are no exception. Imagine if Charlie Whitehurst had to start a long stretch of games. Brad Sorensen has looked solid for a late-round draft pick, however, imagine him in against starters. The offense would probably fall apart. Although the last couple of seasons have been down years for Rivers, he’s still one of the better quarterbacks in the league. If the team around him can stay healthy, expect him to have a bounce-back season in 2013.
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