Losing one key player due to injury can be detrimental to a team’s plans; unfortunately for the San Diego Chargers, they lost two.
By now, Chargers fans should be aware that outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Malcom Floyd have been placed on injured reserve and will be out for the rest of the season. Freeney suffered a torn quad during the contest against the Dallas Cowboys and required surgery. Once Melvin Ingram tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in mid-May, Tom Telesco made the call to sign Freeney on a two-year contract and Freeney provided exactly what the Bolts signed him for. He was the cornerstone of the team’s pass rush.
The other fallen Charger, Floyd, had sat out for two games with a neck injury suffered at the hands of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Floyd had claimed the throne of No. 1 receiver after the loss of Danario Alexander, also due to a torn ACL. It appears the Chargers were hoping for Floyd to return by gauging his recovery for the past few weeks, but thought it would be best for him to sit out for the rest of the season.
The loss of Floyd and Freeney opened up seats for newly-signed wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins and promoted linebacker Thomas Keiser from the practice squad. Although these spots on the roster can be easily replaced, what can’t be replaced are the hearts and souls of these veteran players. Floyd and Freeney are taking with them leadership, experience and talent that cannot be replaced by just anyone. These are key, character players that the Chargers will be missing during a critical transition in the franchise’s history.
One has to imagine that when opposing coaches opened up their playbooks in preparing to play against the Chargers, they’d circle the name Freeney, took in a huge sigh of grief and worked feverishly in determining how to best contain him. Freeney has been a wild horse getting into the backfield and chasing after quarterbacks. Before the season started, Freeney spoke vividly about the opportunity to line up opposite to Peyton Manning and sacking his old quarterback. Unfortunately, that opportunity will have to wait at least another year.
Floyd, well-known by his teammates for being a very humble individual, has only known one NFL team in his 10 years in the league. He’s been a heavily-favored target by Philip Rivers since officially being declared a starter over Chris Chambers during the 2009 season. He’s never required a big, flashy contract or the spotlight. All he’s ever wanted was to play well and vocally desired posting a 1,000-yard season for the Bolts, but just like Freeney, that will have to wait until next season.
True character, humble players with an overflow of talent and leadership are hard to find. It’s an understatement to say that these strong-willed individuals will be missed on the field. They cannot be replaced. Players will step up and do their best and make these mentors proud, but nothing takes the spirit of an individual football player, especially guys like Dwight Freeney and Malcom Floyd.
Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
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