A young group of safeties will get even younger as Weddle will miss this week's game against the Cleveland Browns with a knee injury. This will mark the second game Weddle has missed due to injury during his three-year career; he sat out a week with a sprained knee as a rookie but returned after missing just one game.
FS Eric Weddle
With Weddle out, San Diego will use a three-safety rotation featuring Steve Gregory, Paul Oliver and Kevin Ellison. All three players are logging heavy snaps already and will not be fazed by any additional playing time.
The biggest change will be in the nickel defense, which had featured Weddle, Gregory and Oliver. Given Ellison's struggles in pass coverage, look for Antoine Cason to replace Weddle in the nickel defense, giving the Chargers five quality cover men on the field.
Weddle's absence should also open a spot on the active game-day roster for C.J. Spillman. The undrafted rookie has been inactive each of the last two weeks after playing in wins over the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. He could make an impact on special teams, where San Diego has its hands full against the electrifying Josh Cribbs.
OLB Shawne Merriman (sprained foot, status TBD)
LB Shawne Merriman
"That's the biggest thing. It's rest and time for his foot to heal," Turner said. "That's something we're going to consider and look at. Again, we'll see how he is. If he's a lot better Wednesday or Thursday and can do some and then practice Friday, I'd like to see him play. If he can't practice, [resting him] is certainly something we'll consider."
The temptation to rest Merriman is made all the greater by the caliber of this week's opponent, the 1-10 Browns. San Diego would like nothing more than to give him a week to heal before a daunting four-week closing stretch. Nonetheless, with so many other defenders dinged, Turner is reluctant to go down another man unless it's unavoidable.
The Chargers' pass rush could be in a bad way minus Merriman. The Chargers already have two outside linebackers on injured reserve -- Antwan Applewwhite and Jyles Tucker -- which would leave Shaun Phillips and rookie Larry English as the only healthy edge rushers. Undrafted rookie James Holt, who played outside linebacker at Kansas before moving inside this season, would be the No. 3 outside ‘backer.
The Rest of the Walking Wounded
DE Luis Castillo missed the Chiefs game with a calf injury but is expected to play against the Browns. He was sorely missed last week as Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles averaged better than 6.6 yards on 14 carries, many of them coming off-tackle.
Fellow DE Travis Johnson is still battling through groin and shoulder injuries. He's sure to appear on the injury report again this week but will play through the pain.
LB Kevin Burnett, who is still feeling the effects of a recent sprained ankle, suffered a concussion against Kansas City. Luckily, the early indications are favorable.
"He's doing fine," said Turner of Burnett on Monday. "He's passed the test they give him and he should be fine to practice Wednesday."
Those facts notwithstanding, concussions have become a hot-button topic in the NFL, so it would not be surprising if Burnett sits. That injury wouldn't be nearly as costly, though, as the Chargers have great depth at the position with Stephen Cooper, Brandon Siler and Tim Dobbins.
-For more on San Diego's injuries, see Norv Turner's full Monday Press Conference.
-For more on Cleveland's injuries, see Eric Mangini's full Monday Press Conference.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com 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.