By Dave Thomas

If the San Diego Chargers are going to salvage the 2015 season, it all starts this Monday night when the equally disappointing Chicago Bears come to town.

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With San Diego and Chicago an ugly 4-11 combined so far this season, what may have looked like a decent match-up on paper at the start of the season is now a battle of two teams fighting for their playoff lives. For the Chargers, however, expectations were likely higher coming into this season, so a 2-6 mark at the halfway point

Despite the controversy swirling around this franchise about whether it will or will not move to the Los Angeles area for the 2016, the Chargers will be the first to tell anyone who will listen that the off the field stuff does not impact. Whether true or not, the Bolts have certainly been under-performing in 2015. For a team that many thought would give Denver and Kansas City (the early season AFC projected leaders), San Diego has fallen short.

Injuries And Inconsistent Play Haunt Bolts

While all teams go through injuries during the season, the Bolts seem to have been especially hit by the injury bug in 2015.

San Diego’s injuries and inconsistent play on the offensive line have been well-documented in recent years, but this year it seems to be amplified. At one point during their 29-26 loss in Baltimore last Sunday, the Bolts had more than half-a-dozen players leaving the game for a stretch or more with various injuries.

As Charger fans took the loss in stride, the news got worse when it was learned that star wide receiver Keenan Allen was done for the season with a lacerated kidney. Allen, who had tallied 67 receptions for 725 yards and four TD’s at the time of his injury, will obviously be sorely missed. The question now becomes, who picks up the slack for Allen?

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Will it be Malcom Floyd, Stevie Johnson, or perhaps will tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green (27 catches, 314 yards, four TD’s) who will be targeted more by veteran QB Philip Rivers (2,753 yards passing 18 touchdowns on the season)?

Meantime, the Bolts got more bad news in the last week when it was learned last season’s leading rusher, Branden Oliver, would also be placed on the “reserve injured” list for the remainder of the season with a toe injury. Oliver had rushed for 108 yards on 31 carries to date. With Oliver out for the last eight games of the season, San Diego brings back Donald Brown to pick up some of the rushing duties, joining starters Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead.

Going into their Monday night affair with the Bears, the Bolts reported late this week that several offensive linemen did not practice towards week’s end due to injuries.

Among them: tackle King Dunlap (ankle), offensive guard Orlando Franklin (knee) and center Chris Watt (shoulder).

If the Chargers are to have any hopes of getting back in the AFC playoff race, a win over an equally struggling Chicago team is mandatory.

Probable:

Patrick Robinson, corner (concussion)
Darrell Stuckey, defensive back (hamstring)

Questionable:

King Dunlap, tackle (ankle)
Brandon Flowers, corner (knee)
Orlando Franklin, offensive guard (knee)
Antonio Gates, tight end (knee)
Ladarius Green, tight end (ankle)
Corey Liuget, defensive end (foot)
Denzel Perryman, inside linebacker (biceps)
Manti Te’o, inside linebacker (ankle)
Jason Verrett, corner (groin)
Chris Watt, center (shoulder)
Eric Weddle, free safety (groin)

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Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.