Joey Bosa needs surgery but Chargers hope he can return; rookie to start at left tackle

Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa, bottom, is tended to during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa lies on turf after injuring his groin Sunday against the Jaguars. Bosa needs surgery and went on the injured-reserve list. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

A Chargers season already ailing suffered more pain Wednesday with the news that Joey Bosa’s groin injury will require surgery.

Coach Brandon Staley said doctors have indicated the four-time Pro Bowl edge rusher should be able to return this season.

“It’s going to be a ways, but we expect him to come back,” Staley said. “I think that he’s optimistic and ready to attack it. … It’s never easy when you have an injury like that when you’re playing so well.”

Bosa was hurt Sunday in the first quarter of the Chargers’ 38-10 loss to Jacksonville. Staley said Bosa suffered a torn groin while he was trying to get to quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

The Chargers also lost Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater on Sunday because of a torn biceps that will require surgery as well. Slater is not expected to play again this season.

Staley said the Chargers will turn to rookie Jamaree Salyer — over veteran Storm Norton — as Slater’s replacement. A sixth-round pick out of Georgia, Salyer so far has been limited to special teams.

He mostly played left tackle for the Bulldogs over the last two seasons but also started at left guard and right tackle, and served as a backup center during his college career.

“So far this year, Jamaree’s earning this opportunity,” Staley said. “… Storm had an opportunity to play. Now, through three games, we feel like we have some evidence that we got to make a change.”

In his fourth year, Norton replaced Slater against the Jaguars and struggled, surrendering eight pressures in 23 pass-blocking chances, according to Pro Football Focus.

Salyer played guard in training camp except for one unpadded practice when he spent time at right tackle. He said he has been cross-training at tackle during post-practice work and on days.

Chargers offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer (68) walks to the locker room after a preseason game.
Chargers rookie Jamaree Salyer (68) will start at left tackle in place of injured Rashawn Slater. (Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

“I’ve been waiting to go,” Salyer said. “When they gave me the opportunity I was excited. Never knew what position it was going to be just because I can play all five. … But I was always ready to go.”

The Chargers are hoping to get Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley back soon from a knee injury that has caused him to miss the last game and a half. He was a limited participant in practice Wednesday.

Regardless of Linsley’s status, the Chargers will start two rookies — Salyer and right guard Zion Johnson — along their offensive line Sunday at Houston.

The shuffling up front comes at a time when quarterback Justin Herbert is attempting to play through fractured rib cartilage that clearly impacted his performance in Week 3.

Against Jacksonville, Herbert finished 25 of 45 for 297 yards, with one touchdown and an interception that bounced off the hands of running back Sony Michel. But the quarterback did not look like his normal, dynamic self.

Staley suggested Herbert should improve this week because he now has experience in dealing with his injury.

“It’s always going to be day to day,” Staley said. “But getting last week out of the way, I think we have a much better plan of attack moving forward.”

After Herbert was limited in practice throughout the week, the Chargers didn’t know if he would be available against the Jaguars until shortly before kickoff. They kept all three of their quarterbacks active for the game as a precaution.

“There were just a lot of unknowns,” Staley said. “He had never had to practice like that. He never had to prepare like that, where he's not taking all the reps. I think there were a lot of first-time things going on for him.

“Now, he has a much better sense of how he’s 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.”

To replace Bosa, the Chargers have Chris Rumph II and linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who has played on the edge. They also claimed third-year veteran Derrek Tuszka off waivers this week.

“First of all, we all want Joey back,” said Rumph, a fourth-round pick in 2021. "This is nothing anybody wants. But I look at it as an opportunity to establish myself, to show these coaches that they can count on me when things like this happen.”

Etc.

Along with Herbert and Linsley, wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring), cornerback J.C. Jackson (ankle) and tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) were all limited in practice. … With Slater and Bosa being placed on the injured reserve list, the Chargers signed wide receiver Jason Moore Jr. and tight end Richard Rodgers to their active roster. They also signed wide receiver John Hightower to their practice squad.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.