Keenan Allen’s tweet turns Chargers talk to coach Brandon Staley’s decision again
In his short time as a coach, Brandon Staley has become a favorite of second-guessers NFL-wide, the most-pointed questions centered on his fourth-down decisions.
On Sunday, one of his players even wondered aloud about Staley opting to go for it late in the Chargers’ 30-28 victory at Cleveland.
Injured wide receiver Keenan Allen, watching from afar since he didn’t travel with the team, turned to social media to ask what, precisely, the team was doing.
Staley said he was made aware of Allen’s Twitter post after the game and that he and the five-time Pro Bowler discussed the situation Monday.
“I have an understanding of where he was at in that moment because he’s not with his team,” Staley said. “They’re in the fire. That’s the money down that he’s used to being out there, which makes it a lot better for us …
“It’s just part of sports. We’re going to become closer because of it. We already became closer this morning because of it. We’re going to keep it moving to Denver, try and get him well and get him out there playing for us.”
Chargers-Browns takeaways: The Chargers’ ground game was nearly nonexistent the first three weeks of the season, but Austin Ekeler has picked up the pace and ran for a career-high 173 yards against Cleveland.
The Chargers (3-2) play next against the Broncos (2-3) on Oct. 17 at SoFi Stadium.
On Sunday, they had fourth and one at their 46 with 1:14 remaining. Leading 30-28, Staley could have opted to punt, forcing Cleveland deep into its territory with no timeouts. Instead, he decided to put the game in the hands of his offense, the Chargers calling a play for wide receiver Mike Williams knowing that a first down would allow them to kneel out the rest of the clock.
But Justin Herbert’s pass fell incomplete, forcing the Chargers’ defense to close the game. Five plays by the Browns netted only 10 yards, and the Chargers prevailed when Cade York’s 54-yard kick sailed wide.
Staley chalked up Allen’s tweet, which later was deleted, to “how much he cares about our team.”
“He and I — since I’ve been the head coach — have become extremely close,” Staley said. “There’s no one I have more respect for than Keenan Allen. What makes him special is his competitiveness and also how much he cares about our team … Keenan’s heart is with me, is with us.”
As for Allen’s availability against Denver, the Chargers probably won’t know until they return to practice this week.
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams uses his size and athleticism, much of it from his basketball-playing days, to make a difference for the offense.
Allen hurt a hamstring in the season opener and missed the next two games. He appeared close to coming back in Week 4 before he felt more discomfort and had to leave practice.
He was unable to practice last week, which would seem to cast doubt on his ability to face the Broncos. But Staley maintained that Allen’s situation is more day-to-day than something that could force him to injured reserve.
“We didn’t want to take one of those big steps backward in terms of pushing it,” Staley said. “It’s just kind of one of those frustrating soft-tissue comebacks.”
Before this injury, Allen had missed only three games over the previous five seasons.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley decided it was better to try for a first down than punt. When that failed, Cleveland needed just a few yards to kick a field goal but missed on last play of 30-28 loss.
Staley also announced that right tackle Trey Pipkins III has a sprained medial collateral ligament, an injury he was able to play through after sitting out just five snaps Sunday. Staley said he doesn’t think Pipkins will miss any time.
“We were fortunate to get good news on that,” Staley said. “He made it out of the game OK. He showed a lot of toughness in that game. When I went out there to the field, it didn’t seem good.
“For him to go off and then be able to come back and play the way he did just says so much about him … just the progress he’s made as a competitor, Just an awesome performance by him. … He’s sore but good news overall.”
Wide receiver Joshua Palmer is dealing with injuries to an ankle and knee, but Staley said he should be at practice. There won’t be any clarity on the status of kicker Dustin Hopkins, who missed the game because of quadriceps injury, until the Chargers return to practice.
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