By Danny Cox
When the time comes in an NFL season for teams to realize that it is all, but officially over; then that is when decisions have to be made. The biggest decision to make is figuring out whether to fight hard and finish the regular season off strong, or shut it down and let the sideline huggers get some playing time.
The San Diego Chargers appear to have opted for the latter.
Three Chargers were placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday, and therefore can hang up their cleats for the year. All three injuries happened in the 31-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers this Sunday. It was not only an embarrassing loss for the Chargers, but one that officially knocked them out of playoff contention.
All three players were integral parts of the Chargers’ offense, and big names that have contributed a lot this season.
The first, and obviously biggest, is running back Ryan Mathews. The speedy back broke his left collarbone during the game. He had already healed up from breaking his right collarbone during the preseason, and played in 12 regular season games for the Chargers. Mathews was the team’s leading rusher with 707 yards on 184 carries. Unfortunately, he only scored one touchdown throughout all of that work.
Up next is wide receiver Malcolm Floyd, who also is now on IR. Floyd sustained an ankle injury that didn’t appear to be too severe, but the Chargers aren’t going to risk further damage to him with only two mostly meaningless games to go. Floyd led the entire Chargers team with 56 receptions for 814 yards and five touchdowns.
Lastly to land on IR is offensive tackle Reggie Wells who suffered both ankle and toe injuries against the Panthers. Wells was on the Chargers‘ roster early in the season, but then was released as time went on. He returned on Dec. 5 and started the past two games at right tackle. That last bit of information really isn’t all the surprising about Wells. The Chargers have gone through so many injuries and rotations on the offensive line that it is amazing they still have enough bodies to fill it each week.
With these three players landing on IR, that means San Diego has three open roster spots to fill. Two of them were already taken up by wide receiver Mike Willie and defensive end Damik Scafe. Both players have been on the Chargers‘ practice squad for some time. This leaves one open spot left on the San Diego roster, and it will surely filled by someone for the final two games.
San Diego has done the right thing here, and honestly should do a little bit more. As the season is just about over for them, these final two games are quite pointless. They can’t get into the playoffs and are simply now waiting to see what their final record will be so that they can be given a draft position.
It is now time for the team to let some of the starters – that are cemented in place – take a seat and avoid any or further injury. Give some of the players that usually pace the sidelines, the time to show what they can do.
You never know, San Diego. There could be a budding superstar sitting on the bench and all that’s needed to see it is a little bit of playing time. Now, is that opportunity so don’t waste it.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Chargers news, see CBS Sports Los Angeles.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.