The San Diego Chargers lost two valuable members of the receiving corp on Sunday. Even though the team rallied to a walk off win against the Cleveland Browns, they lost Steven Johnson and Malcolm Floyd to injury. Both receivers are questionable at best for this coming Monday’s showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The thing about football is your are only as strong as the next player on your roster, as injuries are just a part of the game. Dontrelle Inman stepped up in a big way for the loss of the receivers. He produced for the Bolts and it will take a team effort like that to succeed this season.
What game five signifies for the team is the return of Antonio Gates to the Chargers starting lineup. The All-Pro tight end had to serve a four game suspension for a failed drug test. Gates tested positive for a PED and was suspended by the league at the beginning of the season. Ladarius Green filled in for Gates but missed a game against the Minnesota Vikings after suffering his second concussion in a month during practice.
Green performed well for the Bolts but he can never match the chemistry that Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers have. The two have proven to be a dynamic duo when it comes to matching up down field on passes. Gates was surely a first ballot hall of famer, but this recent suspension puts a cloud over his possible enshrinement. He will surely come back like a man on a vengeance.
The Chargers went 2-2 with Gates out of lineup. The game in Cincinnati was very winnable, but the team was exposed on offense with both Gates and Green out. Having both in the lineup will provide the Chargers more formations to select from the playbook. Philip Rivers has been pressured far too often this season. The offensive line has taken a beating with injuries.
D.J. Fluker made a miraculous recovery in only missing one game, but the line is still missing King Dunlap after the big lineman suffered a concussion versus the Vikings. The unit as a whole is really banged up and there seems to be no relief in sight. The team had signed Michael Ola and released Donald Brown, prior to the Browns game. The Chargers have since re-signed Brown and sent Ola to its practice squad for the time being.
The return of Antonio Gates will energize the whole Chargers team. With his return, the team should run offensively on all cylinders. Having him as a safety blanket for Rivers will be huge in keeping the quarterback confident in the pocket. You will see a lot of completions from this duo for the rest of the season. Factor in a healthy Ladarius Green and the Chargers will have excellent options down field despite the loss of Floyd and Johnson.