Fans worry about Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Rams’ Matthew Stafford

Fans worry about Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Rams’ Matthew Stafford

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert holds his leg after being hit.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert reacts after being hit during the second half of a 27-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. (Ed Zurga/Associated Press)

Readers ask our NFL football experts questions about the Rams, the Chargers and the league. Rams beat writer Gary Klein, Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller and NFL beat writer Sam Farmer respond:

Was it foolish for the Chargers to play Justin Herbert after he was injured and in pain when the team was down 10 points with just a few minutes to play?

Steve Karges, San Diego

Miller: I asked coach Brandon Staley specifically about Herbert staying in the game last week despite being in obvious trouble. Mostly, I wondered if the Chargers had any concerns about Herbert’s ability to defend himself. Staley noted the play on which Herbert could have run for a first down but instead threw the ball as an example of him, in effect, defending himself. The fact that he led them and the Chargers nearly recovered the ensuing onside kick showed that even at 10 points, their deficit should not be a hindrance in their quest for victory. get.

Klein: With his team down by 10 points with just a few minutes to play, you can be sure Herbert wanted to play. Maybe even claim it. Quarterbacks are team leaders. They know that almost every other player on an NFL team absorbs more physical punishment and plays through more pain than they do. It is vital to win the game. And for a quarterback, showing your teammates you will do everything possible to do the same.

Can Matthew Stafford throw the deep ball with his elbow injury?

Vernon Atwood, La Palma

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford throws under pressure against the Atlanta Falcons.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was slinging the football as usual against the Atlanta Falcons. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Klein: During training camp, Stafford threw passes longer than 50 yards without a problem. He went through an arm maintenance routine before and after workouts and declared himself fit and ready for the season. It’s not an elbow issue that we haven’t seen deep passes through two games. At least not yet. Receiver Van Jefferson, their deep-ball threat last season, has been sidelined while recovering from knee surgery. Tutu Atwell, a second-round pick in 2021, was supposed to fill that role this season, but coach Sean McVay hasn’t shown he trusts Atwell to give him those opportunities. The Rams have trumpeted Allen Robinson as a receiver who can be effective at all levels, but they have yet to give him a clear longer opportunity.

If 75% of all kickoffs are not returned, why bother? Why don’t you just move the kickoff spot back 10 yards? Or punish rather than reward kickers who kick it through the end zone?

Debra Steinberg, Corona del Mar

Farmer: While that solution would encourage more kick returns, the NFL doesn’t want to do that. Some in the league believe the kick out should be done away with entirely. While that play is exciting, it is disproportionately responsible for concussions and other significant injuries. According to statistics recently released by the NFL, knee injuries are more serious on kickoffs and punts than on other offensive or defensive plays. The league says, for example, that about 30% of torn ACLs occur on special teams plays, even though those are about 17% of the plays in a game. So, as much as purists may hate it, we’ll see fewer chic returns in the coming years, not more.

As a season ticket holder for the “Bolts” for the past two seasons, I have seen the team finally make great strides in gaining new fans in their new market. SoFi is slowly becoming a true home field for the Chargers. I’m curious to see your thoughts on this, if you agree.

Antonio Garcia, Long Beach

Miller: I wouldn’t say the Chargers have a true home field advantage yet experience at SoFi Stadium. Yes, the fan base is definitely growing, thanks in large part, I believe, to Herbert. There should be a clear crowd for the Chargers in this weekend’s game against Jacksonville. But no benefits have been realized from SoFi Stadium so far.

Klein: My first Chargers regular-season home game will be later this season when they play the Rams. So I will be able to provide a better answer then. But I was in sporting goods and department stores in the Southland. I see a lot of Rams merchandise. Neither are Chargers. Maybe that’s because the Rams won the Super Bowl — and as the Rams beat writer for the Times, I’m more focused on the Rams. But as we have said before, there are many transplants from all over the country in the region and they still love the teams they grew up with. Or, in the case of Los Angeles football fans who abandoned the NFL for so long, teams they embraced. Buffalo Bills fans were the latest to force the Rams to a silent countout at SoFi Stadium. So it is a constant challenge for the Rams or Chargers to establish true home field advantage.

What happened to Troy Reeder? Did he even play in the Chargers-Raiders opener?

Hugh Terrell, San Diego

Miller: The Chargers signed Reeder largely to be a core special teams player and leader, and that’s what he’s been through two games. All 44 snaps he played as a Charger came on special teams. Unless there are injuries at inside linebacker, I would expect his contributions to continue to be limited to special teams.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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