Valuable reserve tackle Chris Hairston was lost to the Chargers for the rest of the season Wednesday when the six-year veteran from Clemson was placed on the non-football illness list.
The team did not disclose Hairston's illness. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Hairston, who played left and right tackle, was sitting at his locker in the team's Costa Mesa training facility when reporters were allowed in before Wednesday's practice.
"I'm fine," Hairston, 28, said, "but I don't want to talk about it. That will be about it."
Hairston did not respond when asked if his condition was life-threatening.
On Tuesday, Hairston tweeted, "Dr. said I had blood clots, but I ain't Jamaican, man," the lyrics from a Kanye West song.
A source familiar with Hairston's situation but not authorized to speak about it publicly confirmed that the issue was a blood clot, or blood clots.
"It stinks, but what doesn't stink is the fact that Chris is still alive," right tackle Joe Barksdale said. "Sometimes we get so caught up in what's going on on the field that we forget that people are regular human beings too.
"First and foremost, we're happy he's OK."
Hairston replaced the injured Barksdale in the third quarter of Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins and played 21 of 58 offensive snaps. He played only two snaps in the season opener at Denver.
"He was more than a swing tackle," coach Anthony Lynn said. "This guy is a high-character young man who works hard and sets a good example for everybody in that locker room. We're gonna miss him."
Hairston will be replaced at reserve tackle by rookie Sam Tevi, a 6-5, 315-pound sixth-round pick from Utah. The Chargers also signed Tyler Marz, a 6-7, 316-pound tackle, from the Tennessee Titans' practice squad and assigned him to their 53-man roster.
The Chargers on Sunday will face a Kansas City Chiefs defense that puts heavy pressure on quarterbacks.
The Chiefs (2-0) have 11 sacks for a loss of 66 yards, four by linebacker Justin Houston and three by lineman Chris Jones.
"You have to prepare for everyone, whether it's a high school or college team coming in, like they're the best team in the world," said Tevi, who did not play in the first two games. "Kansas City is good, but we're also good."
Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt thinks that Tevi, who spent much of the preseason playing alongside rookies, will benefit by playing with veterans such as tackle Russell Okung and guard Matt Slauson.
"He's come a long way," Whisenhunt said. "There's no question from a physical standpoint that he has the talent. It's his turn now, so he has to be prepared."
On the run
Lynn entered his first season as a head coach determined to stick with the running game, the strength of his offenses in eight years as a New York Jets and Buffalo Bills assistant. Two weeks in, the Chargers are last in the AFC in rushing, their 54-yard average forcing Lynn to be more flexible in his game-planning.
Lynn and Whisenhunt showed an ability to adapt Sunday when the Dolphins pinched the linebackers in their 3-4 scheme close to the line, stifling the Chargers run game and daring them to pass.
Quarterback Philip Rivers took advantage, completing 31 of 39 passes for 331 yards, seven going to running back Melvin Gordon for 65 yards. Gordon netted only 13 yards rushing in nine carries.
After Gordon was held for no gain or tackled for a loss on three of his first four carries, the Chargers switched to a no-huddle offense in the second quarter.
Rivers hit receiver Keenan Allen on several quick slants and got tight end Hunter Henry involved. He threw four short swing passes to Gordon and connected with him on an inside screen for 16 yards in the third quarter.
"I want to do whatever it takes to move the ball," Lynn said. "When we got into our no-huddle, it slowed the pass rush and gave Philip a chance to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers. … I don't want to stop that just to run the football."
Lynn considers a short pass to Gordon in space "an extended run," and if that's what it takes to get Gordon involved, he won't force-feed him with handoffs.
"Each week, that formula may change," Lynn said. "I've always been a coach who takes whatever the defense gives you. But I do believe, at some point, you're gonna have to run the football to win. The running game will travel, in all types of weather. You can't always pass the ball."
Chiefs coach Andy Reid's respect for Rivers goes well beyond the veteran's statistics and savvy.
Reid, the AFC coach for last January's Pro Bowl, marveled at how Rivers, a father of eight, traveled to Orlando for two Pro Bowl practices, missed one to fly home to San Diego to attend a father-daughter dance and returned to Orlando in time for the next day's practice.
"That was neat," Reid said on a conference call Wednesday. "He's juggling a lot of things, but he does it very well. He's a good dad, a good football player and a spiritual guy."
Center Spencer Pulley, who played every offensive snap in the first two games, sat out practice because of a knee injury. Reserve safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who sat out last week because of a concussion, was a full participant in practice. Reserve defensive end Jerry Attaochu was not on the injury report for the first time. Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford was limited because of a shoulder injury.