Joe Barksdale continues to toe the line as Chargers offense steps on the gas

Melvin Gordon, Joe Barksdale
Chargers offensive tackle Joe Barksdale, walking in front of running back Melvin Gordon, is playing with a nagging toe injury.
(Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press)

A lot of factors went into the Chargers’ 24-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3, an eternity ago by NFL standards.

Philip Rivers had three passes intercepted on the Chargers’ first four drives, putting the team in a deep hole they could never escape.

Absent from the field that day, starting right tackle Joe Barksdale was just beginning a David vs. Goliath battle with a toe injury — a tiny part of his 320-pound body too painful to allow him to play.

“All injuries are frustrating, but this one is frustrating,” Barksdale said. “Any injury is going to suck — it’s just about how it’s going to suck.”


And this one, it turns out, is going to be a pain in the foot all day long.

Barksdale would end up missing five games with the turf-toe injury before he recovered enough to play in the last three games.

He’s part of the offensive line that has allowed an NFL-low 15 sacks, though the group will face a serious test Saturday in Kansas City from edge rusher Justin Houston.

And while Barksdale will likely be on the field, the tiny toe problem will continue to be an issue.


“It’s like having a flat tire and driving in the Indy 500,” he said. “That’s how I’d put it. You’re still out there trying to race. … Every revolution of that tire, you’re going to feel. Same thing as this. Every step, from the moment you wake up in the morning to when you go to bed at night — and that’s just from walking. … But you just have to keep on rolling.”

Kareem Hunt’s up-and-down year

Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who looked like the early MVP of the league after scoring six touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season, gashed the Chargers defense for 172 yards rushing in Week 3, including a game-icing 69-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Since then, though, his production has dipped dramatically.

Hunt was held out of the end zone until Kansas City’s win last week against Oakland, when he ran for 116 yards to snap a seven-game streak of being held under 100 yards.

The bounce-back game didn’t surprise Kansas City coach Andy Reid.

“He’s a great kid, he works hard, he comes to work every day ready to go, and that’s the way he goes about his business,” Reid said in a conference call Tuesday.

With temperatures expected to be in the 40s on Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said the team is expecting to see the Chiefs try to use Hunt a lot more often.


“He’s having a really good year for a rookie,” Lynn said. “I could see them running him more this last quarter of the season, especially in the type of weather that we’re going to be in. We’re going to definitely have to have hats to the ball to stop him, because he’s a good runner and he’s also a good receiver.”


Despite the early interceptions, Lynn said he thought the Chargers were even with the Chiefs in the 24-10 loss in Week 3. “Interceptions put us in a hole — definitely did. But I thought we overcame that,” he said. “We still had a chance to win that game in the fourth quarter. We didn’t get it done.” … The Chargers won’t try to simulate cold weather conditions this week, though they will try to prepare for significant crowd noise. … The Chargers imported lights to their Costa Mesa practice facility for a “jog through” practice late Tuesday afternoon. Saturday’s game in Kansas City will be their first night game since Week 1 in Denver.

Twitter: @DanWoikeSports

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