COSTA MESA – The Chargers have been without Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, their top two wide receivers, in each of the last two games.
Without having them available, the Chargers' passing attack has been held to minimal production, averaging 221 passing yards per game in the last two weeks against the Falcons and 49ers.
Allen and Williams took huge steps forward this week. Both players practiced in full capacity Friday and are considered game-time decisions, Chargers coach Brandon Staley said.
"They mean a lot to us, more than just what happens on the field. Certainly, that’s going to matter for a lot, but they also count for a lot with our team chemistry and the leadership of our team," Staley said of the value that Allen and Williams provide. "They have a lot of experience, have made a lot of winning plays for us. It was good to get them back out there and practice and get them into a rhythm.”
Allen's return to practice this week signals the recent progress he's made since re-aggravating his hamstring injury during the bye week while rehabbing three weeks ago.
Following the final practice of the week, Allen indicated in the locker room there was nothing holding him back during Friday's session, saying he ran full routes to the deep part of the field that he hadn’t done on Wednesday and Thursday.
He says he "felt great" completing a full practice workload, but will go through a pregame warmup before he, the coaching staff and medical team, collectively decide whether or not he'll play Sunday against the Chiefs.
"Confident, explosive, being able to hold and sustain the speed," Allen said on what he'll be looking to achieve during warmups on Sunday.
Allen has continued to express that he won't play on a snap count restriction as he did on Oct. 23 against the Seahawks. When he does in fact make his return, Allen has full intentions of being able to play all four quarters.
As Allen expressed optimism for playing, Williams also shared positivity towards the chance he has to make his return.
Williams suffered a high ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of the team's Week 7 game, but said Friday afternoon that his ankle "felt good" while testing it out on the practice field.
"No hesitation," Williams said of his ankle injury. "Just gotta go out there and trust it."
Without Allen and Williams, the Chargers have relied on less experienced players to carry the load. Joshua Palmer, DeAndre Carter, Michael Bandy, Jason Moore Jr. and Keelan Doss have been the guys called upon.
But as the top two targets of the offense show their eagerness to return, the passing game could take a jolt in primetime against an AFC West rival.
"We'll just add two more threats that he's comfortable with," Williams said on what he and Allen add to Justin Herbert's pass-catching group. "He knows where we like our spots, where he wants us to be in certain plays, so we just got to trust the plan."
Williams found large success against the Chiefs in their first of two meetings on Sept. 15, where he caught eight passes for 113 yards and one touchdown.
If Allen and Williams give it a go on Sunday, there's no disputing what kind of a lift it would be for a Chargers team who's been decimated by injuries.
Other injury news regarding Sunday’s game includes kicker Dustin Hopkins, who’s doubtful with a hamstring injury. Cameron Dicker is expected to be elevated from the practice squad and handle the kicking duties.
*Get your Chargers tickets from SI Tickets by clicking here
Read more from Charger Report:
- Chargers' Roughed Up Defensive Line Attempts to Bring Along New Reinforcements Quickly in Preparation for Chiefs
- Chargers vs. Chiefs Week 11 Injury Report: Thursday
- Where is OLB Joey Bosa at in His Return From Groin Surgery?
- Chargers Wide Receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams Making Progress From Injuries: Where do They Stand in Their Return?
- Chargers Place DL Otito Ogbonnia and DL Christian Covington on Injured Reserve, Sign Two Players
Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.