When Justin Herbert returned to the field after just one game, Keenan Allen — probably like many Chargers fans — thought things couldn’t be that bad.
But just a few minutes later, Herbert rolled right in third and first place and had room to run to the first down and instead threw the ball gingerly and weakly onto the turf of Arrowhead Stadium to end the game.
“It didn’t look like a real injury because he landed on his butt,” Allen said Thursday of the moment Herbert suffered a fractured rib cartilage against Kansas City last week.
But then Allen recalled the breakaway in third place and said he concluded, ‘Okay, he must have a real problem. he hurts It sure hurts.”
Allen was indeed like many fans of this team a week ago. He watched Chargers chiefs on TV at home after not traveling because he was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Allen sat stunned as Herbert immediately followed the most anemic game of his young NFL career with one of the most scintillating.
Herbert dropped a rainbow low over the middle into the waiting hands of DeAndre Carter for a fourth and one for a 35-yard gain.
Herbert put the Chargers in position in the last two minutes to go 27-24 from not being able to go long at all.
“It would have been a great shot even if he hadn’t been injured,” Allen said. “But the fact that he could do it with the game on the line and everything that was going on made it that much bigger.”
Everything around Herbert remained magnified this week as he tries to prepare to play Jacksonville at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
Herbert was restricted from practice for the second day in a row on Thursday after he was seen throwing a multitude of passes in the portion of practice open to the media.
His official designation for the game will be set on Friday when the Chargers release their latest injury report. If Herbert is unable to play, veteran backup Chase Daniel is expected to start.
Thursday appeared to be a step in the right direction, as Herbert didn’t make any pitches Wednesday during the time reporters were allowed to watch practice.
“He plays with a lot of heart,” Carter said. “I’d go to war with this guy any day of the week, man. He is a fighter and I will ride with him.”
Herbert showed the Chargers and the NFL a lot in his first 34 career starts. But last week against the Chiefs, he showed something new as a pro — an undeniable toughness to weather injuries.
On the drive from his injury, Herbert completed seven of nine passes for 73 yards and tied with Joshua Palmer for a seven-yard score in fourth place.
Although many people hadn’t seen Herbert succeed in such terrible conditions, one of his former Oregon teammates said the feat was nothing new.
“Not a surprise at all,” tight end Hunter Kampmoyer said. “He’s been doing it since I’ve known him.”
Kampmoyer, who is now a member of the Chargers’ practice team, played with Herbert for the Ducks for three seasons.
“That’s just the way Justin is,” said Kampmoyer. “He’s been doing it since college. There were many times that he was beaten like that and played through it. That’s just the kind of player he is, the kind of person he is.”
The only serious injury Herbert suffered in Oregon came in 2017 when a broken collarbone forced him to sit out five games. He’s managed to stay healthy in his first two plus seasons with the Chargers.
No teammate asked Thursday expressed surprise at the grit Herbert showed last week. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi called Herbert and fellow quarterbacks Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford “the three toughest guys I’ve ever been with.”
Safety Derwin James Jr. noted Herbert’s rookie season, where the quarterback absorbed several big hits after climbing out of the pocket.
“Justin’s a tough guy,” James said. “He lifts hard in the weight room. I wouldn’t say he’s a quarterback. I mean, he does everything that a normal linebacker or receiver does in terms of work.”
Carter said: “You can tell the guys it really means a lot. this is justin I wouldn’t say he showed me anything new. But at the same time, it’s one of those things you don’t know for sure until you see it. Justin showed everyone.”
Though Herbert’s status remains uncertain, the Chargers appear to be without center Corey Linsley and perhaps cornerback JC Jackson on Sunday.
Linsley is struggling with a knee problem that sidelined him for the second half in Kansas City. He was not at the practice site during the media review this week.
Jackson sat out the Chargers’ opener while recovering from surgery on his right ankle. He then played all 57 defensive snaps against the Chiefs and said after the game he was feeling good.
But Jackson hasn’t practiced for the last two days. He was on the field Wednesday and Thursday but did not work with the team.
Allen (hamstring), starter Trey Pipkins III (foot) and backup tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) were all restricted in practice.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-09-22/chargers-justin-herbert-rib-cartilage-injury-status Will Chargers’ Justin Herbert play? He threw with rib injury