Withrow could be thrust into the starting lineup in early September as the club announced that Nick Hardwick had recently undergone foot surgery. His recovery period is anywhere from four-to-six months, which could have him sidelined for the opener.
Withrow has been a reliable backup since the team signed him in 2006. Last year, he was able to step in for Hardwick and make four of his career 13 starts when Hardwick was originally injured.
With Withrow taking over for Hardwick in the first quarter, LaDainian Tomlinson had four touchdowns.
The team then went 2-2 with Withrow, an eight-year pro, as a starter.
There are no assurances quarterback Philip Rivers, who had his torn ACL repaired in his knee, will be healed for the opener. And tight end Antonio Gates recently underwent toe surgery and it's a real possibility he might not be ready to go in September as well.
Hardwick, who has a Pro Bowl on his resume, hoped rest during the offseason would make the pain subside. But that hasn't been the case.
"I really thought after the season if I wasn't playing on it and I was resting, it would heal," Hardwick said. "I just knew it wasn't getting any better. When I went to see (team doctor) David Chao, he told me I needed to see a specialist."
Which means Withrow will be seeing the field for extended periods during training camp and in the exhibition games. That stint could leak over into the regular season.
Withrow, 32, had his own surgery recently. But it was just an arthroscopic knee surgery and he'll be fine for the offseason workouts.
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