Beset with injuries and in a desperate search for answers on the field, the Los Angeles Chargers will try to get their season back on track Sunday when they hit the road to face the Houston Texans.
Appearing to still feel the effects from fractured rib cartilage, an injury that occurred during a Week 2 loss, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was unable to get the offense moving in a 38-10 Week 3 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As if a hobbled Herbert wasn't enough, the Chargers (1-2) were left to deal with more key injuries. Star defensive end Joey Bosa went down on Sunday with a groin injury and is out indefinitely, but not lost for the season.
Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater, on the other hand, is done for the season after a torn biceps that also occurred last week. Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley, meanwhile, missed Sunday's game with a knee injury and is questionable to play this week.
That means that if Herbert is going to get on track, he may have to do it against the Texans with rookies Jamaree Salyer and Zion Johnson on the offensive line. That could be a troubling development for Herbert, who was 25 of 45 for 297 yards against the Jaguars, with one touchdown and one interception.
"I think there were a lot of first-time things going on for him," Chargers coach Brandon Staley told reporters Wednesday. "Now, he has a much better sense of how (his ribs are) going to feel and how it's going to feel during the game. So, he can prepare better and can go into the game and play better because he's aware of how it's going to feel."
The Texans (0-2-1) remain in search of their first victory after a 20-20 tie against the Indianapolis Colts at home in Week 1, followed by consecutive road defeats to the Denver Broncos (16-9) and Chicago Bears (23-20).
The Texans tied Sunday's game late in the third quarter but ran just 12 plays and had one first down in the fourth quarter.
The last of those 12 plays was Davis Mills' interception with 1:05 remaining that gave the Bears the ball at the Texans' 12-yard line. Chicago kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Mills was 20 of 32 for 245 yards against the Bears with one touchdown and two interceptions. Through three games, the Texans are 29th in total offense at 287.3 yards per game and 25th in passing offense at 204.3 yards per game.
"Guys know we're really close," Mills said. "We've just got to come out and continue our efforts through the fourth quarter late in the game when it really matters and just execute at a high level and pull one out at the end."
Aside from their struggles on offense, the Texans are giving up an NFL-worst 202.3 rushing yards per game. The next-worst rushing defenses are the Bears and the Seattle Seahawks at 157.0.
"We've got to keep grinding is what we have to do," Houston coach Lovie Smith said. "We haven't finished. We're not looking to make things easier. Decisions we make are what we think we need to do to get over the hump. Easier doesn't necessarily go with that."
While Linsley is questionable, Herbert and cornerback J.C. Jackson (ankle) practiced in full by the end of the week and are expected to play. But wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) was ruled out and tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) is also questionable.
For the Texans, tight end Brevin Jordan (ankle) and offensive lineman Austin Deculus (ankle) were ruled out. Defensive lineman Kurt Hinish (foot), linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (back) and defensive back Isaac Yiadom (thigh) are questionable. Running back Dameon Pierce (hip) and defensive lineman Maliek Collins (knee) were among cleared to play.
--Field Level Media