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Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa won’t play Sunday because he’s on COVID-19 list

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants
Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa was put on the COVID-19 reserve list and will miss the team’s game at Houston on Sunday.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Edge rusher Joey Bosa was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday for the second time this season.

The difference now is that he will miss a game.

Coach Brandon Staley said Bosa will be out when the Chargers play at Houston on Sunday.

Bosa was one of seven players the team moved to the COVID list, the group including starting center Corey Linsley and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell, who has been starting in place of the injured Asante Samuel Jr.

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Other than Bosa and reserve defensive back Kemon Hall, who Staley also said won’t play Sunday, the other Chargers on the list could return in time to face the Texans.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association adjusted the league’s virus protocols last week to make it easier for vaccinated players who test positive but are asymptomatic to rejoin their teams.

“I think it’s just good strategy in terms of altering the return-to-play mechanisms, especially with the vaccinated,” Staley said. “They’ve done a really nice job of following the data, following the science.”

Only unvaccinated players and those experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19 will be tested under the NFL’s revised protocols.

The other Chargers added to the COVID list Monday were kick returner Andre Roberts, defensive back Trey Marshall and edge rusher Chris Rumph II.

Running back Austin Ekeler was not among the group despite his name being included in various new reports.

But Ekeler, who also is dealing with an ankle injury, was not on the field Monday during the portion of practice open to the media.

Bosa, who is unvaccinated and thus remains under stricter protocols, was initially put on the COVID list in advance of the Chargers’ Week 11 matchup against Pittsburgh.

He was a close contact in that instance and was able to make it back in time to play against the Steelers. The game Sunday will be the first Bosa has missed this season.

“It’s going to be a team operation,” Staley said of replacing the three-time Pro Bowl player. “You’re going to be borrowing from a couple places. You’re going to have to have a lot of hybrid-type groupings available.”

The Chargers have been featuring more varied pass-rush schemes as the season has progressed. They’ve blitzed more frequently at times and often have shown pressure only to back off into coverage.

Their evolving defense has included moving Kenneth Murray Jr., who began the year as a starting inside linebacker, to the edge in an attempt to use his athleticism and natural ball-pursuit skills.

“You need to have depth this time of year, and you got to be able to figure it out,” Staley said. “That’s exactly what we’re gonna do.”

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Lucas Niang defends Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa.
Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Lucas Niang (67) blocks Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa on Thursday at SoFi Stadium.
(John Cordes / Associated Press)

The Chargers are without another of their veteran edge rushers, Kyler Fackrell, who is on the injured reserve list because of a knee problem. He will miss his third game Sunday.

The absences will put more of a focus on Uchenna Nwosu, who has emerged this season as a productive, consistent rusher.

Nwosu has four sacks and three forced fumbles. He also had his first career interception Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“This guy is one of the impact players on our defense right now,” Staley said. “This guy’s having a fantastic season. I thought that he played as well as anyone on the field on Thursday. Just a quality performance.”

All the COVID news Monday for the Chargers wasn’t negative. They also activated starting left tackle Rashawn Slater from the list, and he returned to practice.

The standout rookie did not play in the Chargers’ 34-28 overtime loss Thursday to the Chiefs.

Bosa and Hall will become the eighth and ninth Chargers to miss games this season because of COVID-19. Among the starters, that list includes Keenan Allen, Linval Joseph, Jerry Tillery and Drue Tranquill, along with Slater.

Like the rest of the NFL, the Chargers are dealing with a situation that has been changing rapidly in recent days. The league was forced to reschedule three Week 15 games — including the Rams hosting Seattle — because of COVID.

“Everything is kind of hour-to-hour right now,” Staley said. “We’ll just have to wait and see as the week progresses how that list either decreases or increases.”

Chargers coach Brandon Staley says his meteoric rise in the NFL has to do with his calculated gambles, which some see as too risky.

Donald Parham Jr. ‘safe and sound’

Tight end Donald Parham Jr., who suffered a concussion and was stretchered off the field Thursday, is “safe and sound,” according to Staley.

“I know his spirits are high,” Staley said. “It’s great to know that he’s well and that he’s on his way to recovery.”

Parham was taken from SoFi Stadium to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he remained for further evaluation. He is now recovering at home.

Derwin James Jr. doesn’t practice

Safety Derwin James Jr. (hamstring) did not participate in practice. He was working on his own on the side. Staley described James as day to day.

Samuel remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Staley has maintained recently that the rookie is close to returning.

Chargers claim Essang Bassey

The Chargers claimed cornerback Essang Bassey off waivers Monday. Undrafted out of Wake Forest last year, he appeared in 13 games — with three starts — for the Denver Broncos the last two seasons.


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