The Chargers just simply can't escape a game without suffering another significant injury.
They entered Sunday's game plagued with more injuries than any other team in the league and yet, things worsened Sunday night at Levi's Stadium.
The Chargers almost didn’t have enough interior defensive lineman at the end of the fourth quarter of the team's 22-16 loss to the 49ers.
At the start of the game, Chargers coach Brandon Staley frequently changed personnel groupings that catered towards the concepts San Francisco was running. But after defensive tackles Otito Ogbonnia and Christian Covington left the game with injuries and didn’t return, the defense wasn’t left with many options and the late-game results showed.
After the team traveled back to Costa Mesa and players came in for treatment and examinations, Staley announced to reporters that Ogbonnia will miss the remainder of the season with a patella tendon rupture. Staley also stated that Covington suffered a pec injury and is "likely" to also be out the rest of the season.
“It (expletive) sucks,” defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day said after the game regarding Ogbonnia's injury. “Obviously, he’s a young player and he’s been playing well. You hate to see him get hurt. You’ve got to try to block it out after it happened and pray for him.”
Ogbonnia and Covington were each expected to step into larger roles following Austin Johnson's season-ending knee injury in the Week 9 game, and the release of former first-round pick Jerry Tillery.
Covington received the start in place of Johnson, making five tackles across 48% of the team's defensive snaps prior to exiting the game.
Considering the Chargers have now lost four defensive tackles, three to injury and one by placing him on waivers – all in which transpired in a matter of two weeks – they're likely to dig into their practice squad and look externally to supplement the position.
"We’ll probably make some acquisitions, and then promote Joe [Gaziano] at some point this week," Staley said. "We have him currently on our team. We’ll be working over the next 36 hours to make a couple of acquisitions to get us to full strength.”
The Chargers' defensive tackle group now just includes Sebastian Joseph-Day, Morgan Fox and Breiden Fehoko.
Fehoko was just signed to the active roster last Wednesday and played 42 defensive snaps in his season debut. He recorded three run-stops on 29 run plays.
"I think that we felt like we were going to give Breiden and Joe a chance to compete. With where we’re at and what we’re trying to do with our team — on the defensive line, our defense, on the whole team — trying to create competition and have guys earn their roles," Staley said of the competition in practice between Fehoko and Gaziano ahead of Sunday's game. "That’s what we want to be here. That’s what we want to do."
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Read more from Charger Report:
- DT Jerry Tillery Claimed by Raiders Following Exit With Chargers
- Chargers Get Silenced in Second Half by 49ers, Leading to 22-16 Loss
- Live In-Game Updates: Chargers at 49ers Week 10
- Pregame Report: Chargers at 49ers Week 10
- Chargers at 49ers Game Day Betting Odds: Week 10 Point Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under
Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.