LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers remain in strong position for a playoff spot at 7-3, but injuries on defense and special teams struggles are concerns for coach Anthony Lynn.
Los Angeles lost a defensive starter for the second straight week when Corey Liuget suffered a season-ending knee injury during the second quarter of Sunday’s 23-22 loss to the Denver Broncos. He is the third starter who will be headed to injured reserve, joining linebackers Kyzir White and Denzel Perryman.
Liuget missed the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancers but bolstered the pass rush in the six games he played. Darius Philon, who started the first seven games and has 2.5 sacks, will move back into the starting spot and rookie Justin Jones will see more snaps.
Lynn said he was pleased with how defensive end Joey Bosa played in his first game. Bosa, who missed the first nine games due to a bone bruise to his left foot, played 31 of 56 snaps. The plan going into the game was for Bosa to see 20 plays.
“For his first game back I thought he looked good. He had good speed and explosion plus he came out of it healthy,” Lynn said.
The Chargers’ struggles on special teams will require more shuffling. They allowed a fake punt for the second straight week, which Lynn said was unacceptable. Kicker Michael Badgley made all three field goal attempts but missed an extra point. Los Angeles has missed six PATs this season. Caleb Sturgis missed five before being released.
One possibility to prevent another fake punt is to leave the defense out there with Desmond King as the returner.
“We ran punt safe some yesterday. The one time we didn’t we got faked on. There’s some things we’re going to do differently there,” Lynn said.
Los Angeles had 14 penalties Sunday, which was the team’s most in Lynn’s two seasons as coach. He said a lot of the penalties early were offensive linemen trying to get a jump on Denver’s pass rush.
The Chargers — who had a six-game winning streak snapped by the Broncos — have a two-game lead over Baltimore for the first wild card. They host Arizona on Sunday before a challenging December stretch that includes Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Kansas City and the Ravens.
“It was a game we could have and should have won. It was definitely a wake-up call for us,” Lynn said.
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