When cornerback Trevor Williams went to the ground on the sideline Tuesday morning during Chargers training camp, a wave of “Oh no, not again,” swept through the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.
The Chargers don’t seem to suffer injuries in a minor way. Ligaments don’t get tweaked, they tear. Bones don’t get sore, they break. Even spleens don’t go unharmed (two players had lacerated spleens last season).
Since Williams needed the help of two people to reach the medical tent, for a moment it seemed as if another fluke injury was going to hit the Chargers before a game had been played.
So it was a bit of a surprise when Chargers coach Anthony Lynn brushed off the injury as just an ankle sprain.
“I don’t think it’s bad,” Lynn said for a change. “I mean, it’s the fourth day of training camp. Hell, we have coaches around here limping. Coaches are sore, so I can’t imagine how the players feel.”
The severity of the sprain is unknown, though their hope is it’s not serious.
“That’s part of the game,” defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said. “Sometimes you’re going to have guys go down and sometimes you have to have guys step up, but Trevor is a great professional. He’s going to do everything he can to get right back on the field. So, we’re just going to wait on him. We’re going to be patient.”
The injury, which occurred on a play that Williams was beaten by wide receiver Mike Williams for a catch, is a reminder of how quickly a position of strength can weaken.
As of last Thursday, the Chargers cornerback rotation was overflowing with talent — Casey Hayward, Jason Verrett, Williams and Desmond King all have proven to be valuable. But by Friday, Verrett was lost for the season to an Achilles injury. With Williams now down, all of a sudden the Chargers could use some help at corner.
“If Trevor’s ankle is bad, then I would be concerned about the depth there,” Lynn acknowledged. “But I’m also confident in some of those young guys behind him.”
That group includes second-year player Michael Davis, and undrafted rookie free agents such as Brandon Facyson of Virginia Tech and Tony Brown of Alabama.
Williams, heading into his third year, was one of the breakout players on the defense a year ago. He left the facility Tuesday on crutches and in a walking boot but, by Chargers standards, the outlook could’ve been worse.
A big difference
A year ago on the fourth day of training camp, running back Austin Ekeler was consumed by pressure as he tried to make the most of limited reps as an undrafted free agent from tiny Western State.
“Coming in, there’s a lot you have to get over and acclimate to — physically and mentally,” Ekeler said. “You just keep grinding at it, working at it and trying to get yourself in to see where you fit, what you’re good at and what you need to work on.
“So, coming into this season, I knew those things. And I’ve been working at them and as you get back on the field, you’re a little bit more prepared.”
The coaches also have a better understanding of the situation, with Ekeler now a big part of the offensive drills, complementing starter Melvin Gordon. But just because that role seems defined, it doesn’t mean Ekeler is satisfied.
“I’m always trying to expand on my role,” he said. “I’m trying to get on the field in other places, like special teams and be more of a solid back on offense.”
Ekeler said he’d like to be the kick returner, a job he held on a part-time basis last season.
Last year’s first-round pick, Mike Williams, had his best practice day as a Charger on Tuesday. He made a number of big plays, including a tough catch across the middle where he got hit hard by middle linebacker Denzel Perryman. “I think that may have woke him up because after that he had a hell of a practice,” Lynn said. … Mebane, heading into his 12th season, said the youngest Chargers have no idea what a tough NFL practice is like, thanks to rule changes that limit time spent on the field. “This [camp] is love,” he joked. “Love, love, love.” … The Chargers will not practice Wednesday.