COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Los Angeles Chargers have been consistent in the one area teams want to avoid — injuries.
The Chargers were dealt another setback Wednesday when centre Mike Pouncey was placed on injured reserve due to a neck injury. Coach Anthony Lynn said Pouncey will have season-ending surgery but did not want to speculate on whether it was career threatening.
Pouncey came out during the first half of last Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. Lynn said that it didn’t sound like one play caused the injury, but that this was something the nine-year veteran had been dealing with for some time and that he had been playing through it.
"With a guy like Pouncey he is one of the warriors and almost invisible. Even if he has something bothering him he’s going to be out there," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "To see him go down with something this severe takes a little bit out of you."
Pouncey is the fourth starter to be placed on either injured reserve or the non-football illness list. Through the first five weeks, the Chargers have had 14 players who are either starters or significant contributors miss a total of 36 games because of injuries or holdouts.
This is the second significant injury the Chargers have had on the offensive line. Left tackle Russell Okung has been out since the start of training camp as he deals with blood clots.
"We talked about it last week a little bit. What is it, Murphy’s Law? What can go wrong will go wrong," Lynn said. "Hell, we have to kick Murphy’s butt. That’s where we are."
Dan Feeney will move to centre and Forrest Lamp will take over at left guard. The starting line now has two third-year players — Feeney and right tackle Sam Tevi — two second-year players in Lamp and left tackle Trent Scott and six-year veteran Michael Schofield. They will face a Pittsburgh Steelers defence Sunday night that is tied for the NFL lead in takeaways (12) and third in sacks (20).
Feeney got plenty of time at centre during training camp as well as during the second half last week. Lynn said that he considers centre more of Feeney’s natural position.
"Everyone has to take a piece of the pie and roll," Feeney said. "Having Phil back there makes your job easier. I think we’ll be all right. I think we can mesh very well together."
This is the seventh time since Rivers has been the starting quarterback that the Chargers have started 2-3. They made the playoffs four of the previous six times.
"In the past, we’ve been at our best when it’s been that way, when it’s kind of like, ‘Oh it’s the same old deal. The Chargers are hurt. They’re injured and they’ll mess it up somehow.’ We’ve been better when it’s been that way," Rivers said. "We’ve been in this boat and kind of gotten rolling. Hopefully, we can weather the storm, injury-wise, and find a way to win a game. Then, hopefully we can string some together."
NOTES: Tight end Hunter Henry, who has missed the past four games with a knee injury, was limited Wednesday and could return this week. … Defensive end Melvin Ingram (hamstring) and kicker Michael Badgley (groin) did not participate in practice. … Los Angeles signed offensive lineman Ryan Groy to take Pouncey’s roster spot.