Chargers Cope with Injury Concerns

While not as drastic as last season, the injuries are starting to pile up for the Chargers. Starters Louis Vasquez and Larry English will be out a few weeks or longer, while backup James Holt has been lost for the season. Oh, and the team is now on its fourth long snapper. Here is a look at how San Diego will cope.

Injury: Louis Vasquez (MCL sprain, out at least two weeks)

Solution: Tyronne Green, who was a part of the same draft class as Vasquez, filled in well against the Seattle Seahawks and is set to make his first career start against the Arizona Cardinals. Green struggled early with the loud crowd at Qwest Field, yielding a quick sack and committing a false start, but he settled down as the game went on. A week of practice reps with the starters, combined with a more accommodating home crowd, should help Green be even better in Week 4.

Also, OT Adam Terry, who was claimed off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts after the final round of roster cuts, will be active for the first time this season. He will be the top backup at both tackle positions while Scott Mruczkowski provides interior depth.

Injury: Larry English (foot surgery, out four to six weeks)

Solution: It's easy to say that the Chargers will replace him with Shawne Merriman, who missed the season-opener with an Achilles injury, came off the bench in Week 2 and played only three snaps in Week 3 before leaving with a calf strain. However, Merriman has been a non-factor for almost three years now, so it may be naive to expect him to revert to his playmaking ways.

This will be a 'backer-by-committee situation, with Merriman, Antwan Applewhite and Jyles Tucker all logging significant snaps. Applewhite has been the most productive member of the trio thus far and has six tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Tucker missed last week's game for personal reasons but is back at practice and will play against the Cardinals.

Injury: James Holt (injured shoulder, out for the season)

Solution: Holt and fellow sophomore C.J. Spillman made the final roster because of their ability to cover kicks. Unfortunately, nobody does a worse job of covering kicks than the Chargers, so changes were inevitable. The first move came this week when Holt was placed on injured-reserve and replaced by Quinton Teal, a fourth-year vet who has played primarily on special teams.

More changes are in-store on special teams. Several starters are clamoring for the right to play special teams -- sick of their hard work being negated by undisciplined kick coverage -- and many will have their wishes granted.

Injury: Ryan Neill (injured knee, out for the season)

Solution: The Chargers signed 16-year veteran Ethan Albright, the fourth long snapper during the first three weeks of the season. The team has yet to have a bad snap, though, which is a credit to A.J. Smith and the team's scouting department.

How much will the Chargers miss Larry English? Discuss in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories