Chargers first-round pick Mike Williams won’t return till training camp at earliest

Chargers beat writer Dan Woike talks with reporter Annie Heilbrunn about the concern surrounding WR Mike Williams’ back injury and LB Melvin Ingram’s absence, plus why this team keeps running ... literally.

When the Chargers selected wide receiver Mike Williams with their first-round pick, it seemed as if they were getting a fairly well-known commodity. The Clemson product would be a big target for Philip Rivers, and the kind of talent who should be able to make an early impact for a quarterback known for finding big receivers in the end zone.

But with the Chargers beginning their final week of organized team activities, Rivers still hasn’t lined up for a single play with Williams to his side.

And, the team said, that won’t happen until training camp at the earliest.

Williams won’t participate this week or during the team’s mandatory minicamp next week because of a mild disc herniation in his lower back. Williams will continue with non-surgical treatment.


“Like I said before, he’s getting behind,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “But the most important thing right now is to get him healthy, and get him back on the football field. But I know he can help us win football games down the road.”

At Clemson, Williams suffered a fractured neck while catching a touchdown pass in his third year, but he returned and dominated, catching 98 passes for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns and helping his team win a national title.

The Chargers selected Williams with the No. 7 pick in April’s draft.

Williams was on the field when the team began rookie minicamp shortly after that, but he has not practiced since.

“I think, for the most part, he’s missing getting settled in,” wide receiver Keenan Allen said. “It’s just understanding Philip, understanding the offense and trying to get the confidence before training camp. … He’s just missing the reps he would get just to build confidence.”

Allen, who knows plenty about missed reps after suffering serious injuries the past two seasons, continued to impress with the way he’s moving after major knee surgery. He was joined on the field Tuesday by receiver Travis Benjamin, returning from his own postseason knee surgery. Last year’s leading receiver, Tyrell Williams, was also on the field working with Rivers and the offense.

“It was great. It felt like we had our three from last year out there today,” Allen said. “It felt pretty good.”

But it wasn’t great, and until the Chargers get their first-round pick out on the field, it probably will stay that way.


Run till the end

When Lynn took over as the Chargers’ coach, he looked through last year’s results and a league-worst six blown fourth-quarter leads. It was the difference between a good year and Lynn’s getting the opportunity to coach this team.

In an effort to make sure those late-game struggles don’t continue, Lynn and the team’s new strength and conditioning staff have made endurance running a priority this summer.

“It was huge,” Lynn said. “If you’re going to finish games in the fourth quarter, you have to be in shape. You and I both know it — it doesn’t take talent to be in great shape. That can be a competitive advantage for us.”

Through Tuesday’s OTA, Lynn has seen results.


“I feel like this team is in really good condition and shape,” he said. “Guys are flying to the ball, guys are finishing with the ball downfield. And you see that consistently.”


Outside rusher Melvin Ingram remained absent as he tries to get a long-term deal negotiated. Ingram, on whom the Chargers placed the franchise tag this offseason, is working out in Florida. “I wanted to see him here, like, yesterday,” Lynn said. “But I understand these contracts and sometimes they take time.” … Allen got engaged while the Chargers were on break for Memorial Day. …Ingram’s replacement with the first-string defense, Chris McCain, limped off the field just before the end of practice.

Twitter: @DanWoikeSports