Justin Herbert’s final pass on Thursday was a seven-yard touchdown strike to Joshua Palmer.
That was his latest throw that was seen by any team from the outside Wednesday after the part of Chargers practice open to the media.
Herbert did some stretching and warming up but otherwise limited his participation while dealing with a broken rib cartilage suffered Thursday against Kansas City.
Only the first 20 minutes or so of practice were available for media viewing.
Coach Brandon Staley said Herbert did some “light throws” and “rotational work” Tuesday at the team’s training facility. Staley continued to call Herbert “day-to-day” with the Chargers set to play Jacksonville on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
“[We’re] making sure Justin feels like he can do the job the way you know he can do it,” Staley said. “That’s the biggest thing, just having the confidence to be able to play the game as it needs to be played.
“It will be determined as the week goes on, right up to the game, because when I say it’s ‘day to day’, it’s how he feels. That could go all the way up to Sunday.”
Aside from protecting Herbert from further injury, the biggest factor that will determine his status will be Herbert’s ability to manage the pain.
On the series after he was injured, he led the Chargers on a nine-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Herbert was clearly uncomfortable in the final five minutes of the game but only missed one play.
Staley said the Chargers will rely heavily on Herbert to make a final decision on his availability for Sunday.
“We’re going to listen to Justin, No. 1,” Staley said. “The player has been at the forefront of all the decisions we make here since I became head coach. … I think that’s where the modern NFL is …
“We’ll get him started and then he’ll feel good about what the medical team feels is best, weighing the options and then making a good decision for us.”
Regardless of what happens this weekend, Herbert will likely be dealing with soreness in his left rib cage area for a while.
Ilan Danan, a sports neurologist and pain management specialist at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute, said a full recovery — based on the severity of the injury — could take anywhere from two weeks to two months.
“The focus and the recovery period,” Danan explained, “is focused on the amount of pain and what a person can tolerate.”
If Herbert is unable to play against the Jaguars, Chase Daniel and Easton Stick would be the Chargers’ two quarterbacks. Daniel has been Herbert’s backup since the start of last season.
In his 13th year, Daniel has five career starts, his most recent coming in 2019 with Chicago. Stick has only appeared in one game – for two snaps – since the Chargers drafted him in the fifth round in 2019.
Since the start of the 2006 season, the Chargers have only had three players start at quarterback and one of them – Tyrod Taylor – has only started one game.
The uncertainty about Herbert comes the same week that a medical malpractice lawsuit against one of the Chargers team doctors filed by Taylor became public information.
Taylor is suing David Gazzaniga because a pregame injection – meant to help the quarterback manage the pain from two broken ribs – instead ended up with Taylor suffering a punctured lung.
When Taylor was unable to play in that game in Week 2 of the 2020 season, Herbert replaced him minutes before kickoff and has been the Chargers’ starter ever since.
Asked if he had any “concerns” about Herbert’s treatment in light of the law, Staley said, “Any player that goes through something like this … that’s your biggest responsibility as a coach is to take care for your players.
“I think we have full alignment with Justin, his family, his agents and then the medical professionals. That’s what we’re going to try to do is align that way and trust the process and, hopefully, it will be successful soon.”
The Chargers listed Herbert as a limited practice participant and he wasn’t alone as they deal with a handful of significant injuries.
Two Pro Bowlers – center Corey Linsley (knee) and cornerback JC Jackson (ankle) – did not practice Wednesday. Linsley missed the second half against the Chiefs. Jackson made his first season in Kansas City after being the starter for the Chargers.
Named Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) and starting right tackle Trey Pipkins III (ankle) limited in practice. Allen was injured in Week 1 and Pipkins in the third quarter on Thursday.
Backup tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) was also limited. He has yet to play this season.
Pick on Brandon Staley
Saying “I’m responsible for what happened on the play,” Staley took the blame for Herbert’s fourth-quarter interception that became Kansas City’s 99-yard touchdown on Thursday.
Herbert’s intended target was Gerald Everett near the goal line as the Chargers tried to break a 17-17 tie. But the former tighthead, who was seen trying to take himself out of the game moments earlier, failed to move for the ball.
Everett later explained that he wanted to leave the field because he was feeling sore in his ankle from an injury he suffered in the Chargers opener. But with the offense mounting, Everett couldn’t go away.
He had caught passes on the previous two plays as the Chargers moved to the Chiefs three-yard line before Jaylen Watson picked off Herbert and ran 99 yards for the game-tying score.
“I saw Gerald,” Staley said. “We felt we could contain him and dictate the pace. It was kind of a simple play, a simple job responsibility. Looking back, for sure, it’s one that, as a coach, I will learn from. Operationally, we take full ownership. I think we can all learn from that, but me the most.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.