Chargers’ next challenge: Tyreek Hill and Miami Dolphins

Miami has Tua Tagovailoa, who was announced Wednesday as the leader of fan voting for the Pro Bowl.

The Dolphins have Jaylen Waddle, who is likely to surpass 1,000 yards received for the season on Sunday.

And they have Mike Gesicki, a player that Chargers coach Brandon Staley describes as a “big play tight end.”

Then, on top of all that, Miami has Tyreek Hill, whom many of Staley’s players know as the red patch pulling away from them in his former role as Kansas City boss.

Yes, despite being dealt half a country away in the offseason, Hill is still primed to pursue the Chargers.

“They did a good job tailoring offense to his strengths,” Staley said of the Dolphins coaching staff. “They’ve integrated some of the things that he’s protected in the NFL that’s kind of unique to him and what he can do.

“You use it as you should. They really portray him as a guy who can get the ball in a variety of ways and obviously eliminate a lot of coverage for other people. He’s having an outstanding season.”

Miami traded five draft picks for Hill in March, delivering one of the NFL’s doddiest and fastest wideouts to ignite a thriving offense.

The Chargers will get their first look at Hill in Dolphins colors at SoFi Stadium on Sunday night, another prime-time opportunity for the 6-6 home team to prove they deserve all the national attention.

There is little doubt about Miami’s credentials. The 8-4 Dolphins have the second most prolific passing offense in the NFL and rank fourth in the AFC in points per game with an average of 24.9.

Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill catches a touchdown pass in front of Chargers cornerback Tevaughn Campbell.

As a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Tyreek Hill often got the best of the Chargers’ high school, including this touchdown catch.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Those facts would be scary enough even if the Chargers’ defense hadn’t spent a lot of time on heels this season. Only Arizona and Detroit average more points than the Chargers, who allow 25.8.

“They have great players,” Staley said of the Dolphins. “That’s why you’re watching the production of her offense.”

The Chargers, already in pain, could be in worse shape this weekend. Safety Derwin James Jr. is still grappling with an injury Staley said he sustained in Week 12 in Arizona. James, who is listed with a hip problem, missed a day of practice last week but was able to play all 61 defensive snaps on Sunday in Las Vegas.

The Chargers, who only had one walk-through Wednesday, estimated James would not have practiced again. He was on the last injury report with a quadriceps injury.

When asked how concerned he was for James, Staley said, “We’ll see.” The Chargers are scheduled to hold a full training session on Thursday.

Cornerback Bryce Callahan (core muscle) and linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (hamstring) should both have limited participation. Defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day (knee) was absent on Wednesday.

That’s four more key members of a defense that knocked down three starters — edge rusher Joey Bosa, cornerback JC Jackson and defensive tackle Austin Johnson — with significant injuries.

And now the Chargers are facing one of their old nightmares in Hill, who caught 12 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown on his most recent appearance at SoFi Stadium.

That, too, came in prime time, a Thursday night 34-28 Kansas City win nearly a year ago.

Staley said slowing Hill and the Dolphins would require limiting explosive plays, which the Chargers struggled with at times. Miami is winning with pace, and defending against it is hardly a Chargers forte.

“You have a lot of people who can go deep into the reporting,” Staley said. “They also have people who can keep it short and then turn short games into big games.”

Few in the NFL do it as well as Hill. In 11 games against the Chargers, he has 53 receptions for 799 yards and seven touchdowns.

Hill leads the NFL with 96 catches for 1,376 yards. Only one player has been targeted more often: Davante Adams.

This is the same Davante Adams who burned down the Chargers in Las Vegas on Sunday with 177 yards and two touchdowns.

Etc.

Center Corey Linsley remains on concussion protocol. The Chargers estimated he would have been a limited participant on Wednesday. … wide receiver Mike Williams (ankle) and right guard Zion Johnson (shoulder) were also listed as limited. Right tackle Trey Pipkins III (knee) remains sidelined.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-12-07/chargers-tyreek-hill-miami-dolphins Chargers’ next challenge: Tyreek Hill and Miami Dolphins

Emma Bowman

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