Injury-Prone: Is The Chargers 2012 Season Now In Jeopardy?

Injuries are a part of the game of football, but with the San Diego Chargers over the past few seasons, evading the dreaded injury bug has been an impossibility. Their pile of ailments grew even larger following the second preseason game of the year as the team lost wide receiver Vincent Brown to a broken ankle. Now the offense is down two potential starters with the season nearing ever closer by the day.

With Ryan Mathews already shelved until at least week one of the regular season with a broken clavicle, the loss of Brown really adds a tremendous burden to quarterback Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense. Brown was expected to make huge strides in his second season with the club after the team let free agent receiver Vincent Jackson leave for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That expanded role will now have to be put on hold indefinitely with the uncertain timetable for Brown’s return.

That is quite possibly the scariest part of Brown’s injury after watching the way his ankle was bent on the touchdown grab he had against the Dallas Cowboys Saturday evening. A broken ankle takes quite a while to heal for anyone, but for a wide receiver, the level of uncertainty is even higher given the need for sharp cuts and quick bursts. Many have suggested that eight weeks is a realistic possibility for his return, but some also say that he could be lost for the entire year given the severity of the break.

Losing Brown for the year would place a tremendous burden on the remaining receivers on the depth chart. Even though General Manager A.J. Smith went wild and brought in plenty of capable targets for Rivers in the offseason, the team can’t possibly be as confident in any of them as they were in Brown. The chemistry that he has been able to develop with Rivers during their short time together is special and having that go-to guy disappear will be a difficult adjustment.

Rivers weighed in on what losing Brown means for the team following the game saying: "You hate it for the guy. He was having a great preseason, a great camp, and you just hate to see anybody get injured. He was really coming on and was going to be a big part of what we do." Another teammate in tight end Antonio Gates offered high praise as he said: "He's one of the best route runners that we have on this team. It's a blow to our offense."

What is even more troubling about the injury is the fact that newly added receiver Eddie Royal has already been hampered by a few different nagging issues of his own. The team does still have Malcom Floyd and new addition Robert Meachem at the receiver spot. Also depth signee Roscoe Parrish has looked good in camp while rookie free agent Mike Willie of Arizona State caught a 38-yard score in the win over Dallas. These depth guys could become all the more important given the clear uncertainty surrounding Brown’s injury.

Perhaps the most concerning of all is the fact that we all saw how Rivers was pressing a year ago trying to find the open guy and even throw guys open when there was no room to do so. With an interception in the first preseason game and two more to add to the total against the Cowboys, the team has to be worried about Rivers’ ability to persevere despite all of the guys going down around him. Most blamed his difficulties on the pressure and lackluster offensive line play, but maybe the guys running the routes just weren’t getting open.

Decision making becomes paramount when the depth chart gets thinner and that has been a significant issue for Rivers over the past year or so. The first team offense was held scoreless in the first half against the Cowboys and things won’t get any easier with less healthy players available. Rivers did complete 13 of 15 passes, but the two incompletions were interceptions. Maybe these are all timing issue that can be resolved through more repetitions in practice, but the clock is ticking.

The Bolts are no strangers to adversity and their underdog role coming into the 2012 campaign is only more fitting now with the injury issues facing them. Coaching is going to be even more important with health concerns threatening the club’s ability to succeed so the pressure is on Norv Turner. Let’s see if he and the veterans on this roster can overcome yet another hurdle as they try to stay positive for the year ahead.

Now it’s your turn! How do you think the injury to Vincent Brown will affect the Chargers offense? Do you see this as an injury that he can come back from this season or will he be lost for all of 2012? Can the other guys on the depth chart step up in his absence? Will Philip Rivers have enough weapons to prevent a repeat of last year’s turnover fest? How do you see coaching influencing all of this? Please fill up the comments section below with your thoughts!

August 20, 2012

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