Loss of Rashawn Slater Could Be Disastrous for Los Angeles Chargers

Rashawn Slater

Following a tough Week 3 loss filled with injuries, the Los Angeles Chargers got some very rough news: All-Pro left tackle Rashawn Slater is out possibly for the season with a torn bicep. Storm Norton came in as the backup on Sunday when Slater went out, though it’s likely the Chargers will elevate somebody from the practice squad when Slater hits injured reserve. At any rate, it cannot be understated how huge of a loss this is for the Chargers; in fact, it’s a loss that may very well put the season in jeopardy.

Loss of Rashawn Slater Potentially Catastrophic for Los Angeles Chargers

The Talent Dropoff

Now, the initial reaction to such a notion might be that it’s just one offensive lineman – why would that matter so much for the season? The most obvious issue is the talent dropoff from Slater to Norton, assuming that is who gets rolled out at left tackle. Slater went All-Pro in his rookie year. Norton was the starter for most of 2021 at right tackle and was frankly abysmal there. The difference between him being at right tackle versus left is that at least right tackle is not Justin Herbert’s blindside – imagine having someone trying to protect your quarterback’s blindside who might as well be a turnstile.

Such a situation – where Norton starts in place of Slater – is quite literally worst-case-scenario levels of bad. Herbert is already playing injured and the center Corey Linsley is currently out as well. Playing with such poor protection on the blindside when the quarterback is already injured is a very bad situation. Herbert will inevitably get hit more often, and his injury could possibly be worsened.

What Are the Options?

The Chargers tend to have a bit of a next-man-up mentality as a general rule, but they need to develop a better plan at left tackle going forward this season – because, quite frankly, literally anybody else on the offensive line active roster would be better at left tackle than Storm Norton. One option would be to move Trey Pipkins back to left tackle; after that, one could then either put Norton back at right tackle (also very non-ideal, but better there than on the blindside), or put Matt Feiler at that position instead and put Jamaree Salyer in at left guard.

The other option would be to sign or trade for a veteran to put at left tackle as a temporary solution until 2023 when Slater is healthy again. However, such mid-season additions are not typical for the current Chargers regime. It’s more likely that they will simply elevate a new backup from the practice squad.

Looking Ahead

This outlook for the Chargers may seem more gloomy than usual, but words cannot be minced: this is not a good situation they are in. A quarterback playing injured with a quite sub-par left tackle protecting his blindside is a recipe for disaster. There’s going to be a talent dropoff regardless going from Rashawn Slater, but there are other options to relatively soften it. Right now, we can only hope that Brandon Staley and Joe Lombardi will not be overly stubborn and not stick with a blanket “next-man-up” approach – not when, in this case, it could jeopardize the season and Herbert’s health.

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