Chargers might not have Keenan Allen back after all; Joshua Palmer also questionable
On Sunday in Atlanta, Carter could be their No. 1 wide receiver.
After Carter, a fifth-year pro with 77 career receptions, the Chargers have Jason Moore Jr. and Michael Bandy on their active roster. Those two have combined for 10 catches in 23 NFL games.
The Chargers have been decimated by injuries, but they are 4-3 and with players returning soon their next three games should set the stage for their season.
The Chargers have three wide receivers on their practice squad — Joe Reed, John Hightower and Keelan Doss — who have totaled 21 receptions in 34 games.
Reed and Doss haven’t played in the NFL since 2020; Hightower appeared in one game last season for Philadelphia.
“We’ll be confident with whoever goes out there,” coach Brandon Staley said Wednesday. “We have full confidence in our group. … We’re going to have to put a good game plan [together] with the guys who are out there.”
The Chargers’ offense does feature running back Austin Ekeler, who leads the team and is fourth in the NFL with 53 catches and has been targeted by quarterback Justin Herbert 28 times over the last two games.
Tight end Gerald Everett, who is having the most productive of his six NFL seasons, also is capable of lining up at receiver.
Still, Herbert’s options will be limited against the Falcons, forcing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi to be creative in trying to ignite a group with four touchdowns in its last 27 possessions.
The loss of Allen was the latest development, the five-time Pro Bowl player explaining Wednesday that he tweaked his hamstring while rehabilitating during the Chargers’ off week.
“I don’t think it was a re-strain or anything,” Allen said. “Just some more scar tissue that’s trying to break off. Whenever it’s ready to heal … just gotta let it do its own thing.”
Allen was injured in the second quarter of the Chargers’ season opener. He sat out the next five games before coming back to start against the Seahawks in Week 7.
After playing the first half, Allen didn’t return. Both he and Staley said Allen remained on the sideline as a precaution and didn’t suffer a setback against Seattle.
The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes each matchup and predicts the winners in NFL Week 9. The Bills will beat the Jets and the Eagles will improve to 8-0.
Allen admitted Wednesday that he wasn’t 100% entering that game but said he “definitely felt able to play.” Now, there is no certainty about when he might return.
“Not at this point,” Allen said when asked for a potential timetable. “Keep working through it and hope it starts getting better.”
Allen did say he won’t come back until he feels completely healed.
“I definitely don’t want to do the halfway thing again,” he said. “Just want to come back 100%, [where I’m] not worried about it.”
Palmer sat out the game versus the Seahawks because he was in concussion protocol. Staley confirmed that Palmer has been cleared but said it was too early to know about his availability for the weekend.
Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer was cleared during the Monday game against Denver despite a suspected concussion, but two days later symptoms appeared and he won’t play Sunday.
During practice Wednesday, Palmer was a full participant, according to the Chargers’ injury report.
Despite their issues at wide receiver and knowing Allen’s situation had worsened, the Chargers did not add anyone at the position — or any position — before the NFL’s trade deadline Tuesday.
“Nothing materialized,” Staley said. “But I thought that we were active, to an extent, and nothing really happened for us that was going to make sense for this season or next. … It’s not just this season. It’s the years to come.”
The Chargers had one of the NFL’s most active offseason, adding starters Everett, Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson and Bryce Callahan, along with key reserves Carter, Morgan Fox and Kyle Van Noy.
Though not unexpected, their inactivity this week was notable. Staley said the Chargers factored in how many players they are anticipating to return from injury over the next several weeks.
Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson suffered a ruptured patellar tendon during Sunday’s loss to Seattle and medical experts say it might take a while for his return.
“We made a lot of moves in the offseason,” Staley said. “… We made aggressive moves. I felt like we made a lot of smart moves that I think are paying for us right now, in terms of establishing the type of depth that you need …
“The trade deadline is something that is overblown in the league. No. 1, not that many trades happen. There is a lot of hype toward it, but then there are not as many as people think …
“We were in discussions, like the rest of the league. It just didn’t make sense for us at the time. We feel confident in the guys that we’re going to get back and that we have a lot of time to create the identity for the rest of the season.”
Tight end Donald Parham Jr. practiced in full Wednesday after sitting out the Chargers’ Week 7 game while in concussion protocol. As with Palmer, Staley said it was too soon to know if Parham will be able to play Sunday. ... Kicker Dustin Hopkins (hamstring) and edge rusher Chris Rumph II (knee) also did not practice and figure to remain out this week. Defensive lineman Jerry Tillery (back) was another who did not practice.
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