Chargers QB Justin Herbert has fracture in right index finger, status for Thursday unclear

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert fractured the index finger on his right hand in the second quarter of Los Angeles' 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, jeopardizing his streak of 62 consecutive regular-season starts on a short week for his struggling team.

Coach Brandon Staley said the Chargers' medical staff will do more tests before determining whether Herbert will miss their next game Thursday at Las Vegas, but the $252 million franchise quarterback didn't sound particularly optimistic.

“It’s obviously tough,” said Herbert, who had a splint on his finger. “You feel bad for hanging the team out like that. You never want to be taken out of the game. It’s something that we’ll know more as the week goes on, and if there’s any chance to play, I’ll do everything I can to be out there. I’m going to do everything I can in the treatment room to get back to 100%."

After falling to the fringe of the AFC playoff race over the last month with four losses in five games, the Chargers (5-8) have only three days to prepare for the Raiders. If Herbert can't play, backup Easton Stick seems likely to become only the Chargers' fourth starting quarterback since 2007.

Philip Rivers started 240 consecutive games before he left the Chargers after the 2019 season, and Tyrod Taylor made one start before Herbert took over as a rookie in Week 2 of the 2020 season after Taylor’s lung was accidentally punctured by a pregame painkilling shot.

Herbert had missed only a handful of snaps in his four seasons with the Chargers before Sunday, when he was unable to grip the ball after an X-ray confirmed he has a broken finger.

Herbert was 9 of 17 for 96 yards with an interception against the Broncos before getting injured, apparently while he was taken down awkwardly by Denver’s Zach Allen after completing a pass to Donald Parham.

“I can’t remember whether it got hit on a helmet or whether it hit on someone’s shoulder pads,” Herbert said.

Herbert had been sacked four times and hit six times during the Chargers’ first six possessions, with his teammates repeatedly missing their blocks against Denver’s pass rushers. Los Angeles’ offense struggled even before the injury, going scoreless with a tipped interception by Herbert and turning the ball over on downs twice.

The Chargers went 0 for 12 on third downs and 1 for 6 on fourth downs.

The only other quarterback on the Chargers' active roster was Stick, who had played two NFL snaps in five seasons with Los Angeles before he replaced Herbert with 1:52 remaining in the first half. Stick went 13 of 24 for 179 yards in Herbert's place, and the Bolts scored on just one of their five drives in the second half while Denver pulled away.

“Once he got his feet underneath him, I thought he did some good things, particularly in the second half,” Staley said of Stick. “I thought he moved the team and gave us a chance. It was good for him to get into the flow of the game, because when you come in there cold, it's tough to just get in there right away and get moving. There's going to be some things in the second half that we can build off.”

Herbert, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, has been famously durable in his career.

He fractured the middle finger on his left hand late in the third quarter of a game against Las Vegas on Oct. 1 when it got caught in the helmet of Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby after he threw a pass that was intercepted by Trevon Moehrig. Herbert wore a splint on the hand during the fourth quarter.

Herbert also didn’t miss any time last year when he fractured rib cartilage during a Week 2 game at Kansas City.

Herbert signed a $252.5 million, five-year extension during the offseason.

Stick's best throw was a 57-yard strike to rookie Quentin Johnston during the fourth quarter. Four plays later, Austin Ekeler put Los Angeles on the board with a 4-yard TD run, but that was the Chargers' only touchdown in the past two weeks.

“Obviously I haven't played in a while, but that's part of the job,” said Stick, who won 49 games and was a part of four FCS national championship teams at North Dakota State. “I've been here — this is five years — and I've got to watch Justin. I've watched Philip play, and play really well. And that's the standard. Just went out there and tried to compete, do the best I can.”

Behind Stick, practice squad rookie Max Duggan is the only other quarterback currently on the Bolts' roster.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

 

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