To understand how much pain he was feeling at that precise moment, consider this: With barely two minutes left and his chargers down and desperate, Justin Herbert surrendered.
For one play, the team’s Pro Bowl quarterback had to forgo potentially running for a first down and instead toss the ball into the turf.
That happened in the Chargers’ last game – on September 15 in Kansas City – after Herbert sustained a fractured rib cartilage that was later diagnosed.
Now, here’s Herbert, eight days later, matter-of-factly dismissing his injury and the resulting agony it brought him.
“Football is a game where you play with a lot of discomfort,” he said. “I don’t think anyone ever feels really good. … Week in and week out the boys deal with things. So part of that is just being tough and making sure your body is ready when you play.”
A moment after giving in to the pain, Herbert stood his ground by beating DeAndre Carter for a 35-yard gain to keep the Chargers alive in a game they would eventually lose 27-24.
The question now is whether Herbert can keep going and play when his team takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
The Chargers called Herbert questionable Friday after he was mostly a spectator during their final practice session.
“I don’t know,” he said afterwards when asked if he thought he would play on Sunday. “It’s a decision we still have a few days to make. … Whatever the plan, I know our team will be ready to do whatever we can.”
Herbert not starting would be big news as he has quickly become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and the main reason this team is considered a lead contender for the playoffs after missing the postseason for three years would have.
Yet the Chargers also have a recent history of stability at the most important position in the sport. Since the start of the 2006 season, only three players have started as quarterbacks for this franchise.
Philip Rivers was there for 15 years and 240 games. Tyrod Taylor then started for the 2020 season opener before Herbert finally took over a week later. That’s three quarterbacks over the span of 275 regular season games.
If Herbert is unavailable Sunday, longtime NFL backup Chase Daniel will start, coach Brandon Staley said. At the age of 14, Daniel, 35, has had five career starts, most recently in 2019 with Chicago.
“I’ve had a lot of these crazy, unknown weeks,” Daniel said. “It was like that this week. … I think that’s part of the deal as a backup. You are expected to go in and when you play, play well.”
The uncertainty surrounding Herbert comes the same week that Taylor filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Chargers team doctor.
Physician David Gazzaniga is being sued by Taylor because a pregame injection in 2020 — designed to help the quarterback manage the pain of two broken ribs — resulted in a punctured lung.
When Taylor was unable to play in that week two game, Herbert replaced him minutes before kickoff and has been the starter ever since.
Gazzaniga remains part of the Chargers medical team and was on site in Kansas City when Herbert was injured.
Herbert was asked Friday if he had any concerns about his treatment given what happened to Taylor.
“I think every situation is different,” he said. “I mean, you have to see what’s best for you. I will definitely do everything to prepare and be ready to play on Sunday.”
If Herbert plays, after throwing in practice, he will only do so on Thursday. He attempted no passes Wednesday or Friday.
“He looked good,” Staley said of Thursday’s practice. “He Is hard. Anyway, he doesn’t feel good. But he could go out and throw the football.”
The Chargers are waiting to see if that’s the case on Sunday.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-09-24/los-angeles-chargers-jacksonville-jaguars-justin-herbert-start-sofi-stadium Chargers QB Justin Herbert is questionable but plans to start