COSTA MESA – The Chargers enter Week 2 having to expedite their recovery and preparation as they take the field on a short week, facing the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football.
After beating the Raiders 24-19 in the season opener, Chargers players began getting treatment from team trainers in the locker room, rather than waiting until the following morning.
Playing two games over a five-day span creates difficulties for any player and team involved. But one player in particular this turnaround time will create a challenge for this week is wide receiver Keenan Allen.
He exited last weekend's game in the second quarter following a hamstring injury. Despite not taking a snap in the second half, Allen still finished the game as the Chargers' leading receiver, posting four catches for 66 yards.
Needless to say, not having Allen would be a substantial loss to the offense when they attempt to improve their record to 2-0 Thursday night in Kansas City.
"If he doesn’t go, then we’re going to miss that, but then he can contribute in a different way because Keenan, he is the type of guy that he’s going to be out there whether he is playing or not," coach Brandon Staley said. "We’re going to feel him, and that’s why he was elected captain for our team.”
Staley wasn't ready to officially rule out Allen for Thursday's slate, but he did insinuate that things don't lean in favor of the five-time Pro Bowler taking the field.
"Keenan is going to be a guy that is going to take some time, I think, with his hamstring," Staley said. "I don’t think it’s looking great for this week, but you never know. I wouldn’t put anything past Keenan, so we’re not ruling him out."
After Allen went down mid-game in Week 1, the Chargers offense still closed out a productive outing. Quarterback Justin Herbert completed 26 of 34 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns – with each score coming on the receiving end from new members of the team.
As things point towards Allen not playing, the Chargers could be forced to rely upon their depth to pickup what would be lost without their top receiving target. However, if last week was any indication of how deep they are at the position this season, the Chargers have capable players to step into a more prominent role this week.
DeAndre Carter was stellar in the season opener, catching three passes for 64 yards and one touchdown. Initially viewed more as a return specialist, Carter has shown he has more to offer as a pass catcher.
“I don’t know if we knew that he was going to be this type of impactful receiver," Staley said of Carter. "I think that’s been a pleasant surprise for us. We felt like he was a quality return man, which was the first reason why we wanted to join up with him, but then, I think, we quickly saw in the Springtime that he was going to be a lot more than that. When I think of Dre, I think of a football player, I think of a guy that can do a lot of things well. He’s done a nice job for us.”
Carter, who took a healthy dose of the second-team reps from the slot alignment in training camp, could fill that role as a starter in Week 1 if Allen is unable to go.
“He’s a coach’s dream," Staley said of Carter. "My mom used to say that as a teacher, a teacher’s dream. That is kind of how DeAndre is. He is such a hard worker. He’s so unselfish. He does so many different things from a role standpoint. I think he works extremely hard no matter what he’s doing throughout the day, whether it’s in a meeting, in a lift out at the walk-through, out at practice, and he’s a good player. When you put all that together, we’re very fortunate to have him."
Staley also didn't rule out the thought of turning to the practice squad to elevate a wide receiver ahead of the game. The Chargers have three practice squad options, including Michael Bandy, Jason Moore Jr. and Joe Reed.
"We’re still working through that for the next couple of days. We can decide to go with four wide outs, bring somebody else up in another position, or we could flex a receiver," Staley said. "We’re still working through the initial stages of the plan, but I do think that we have receivers who are capable of being elevated and performing well for us."
Without Allen, Mike Williams becomes the top target this week. Williams signed a three-year, $60 million contract this offseason. In his season debut, Williams saw just three targets, making two catches for 10 yards. Staley said after the game they had plays drawn up for Williams, but based on how things unfolded, they didn't come about on a more regular basis.
Joshua Palmer and Jalen Guyton each figure to see more looks this week in the event Allen is sidelined.
More from Charger Report
- Chargers at Chiefs Week 2 Injury Report: Tuesday
- DeAndre Carter's Week 1 Performance Builds Upon Strong Training Camp, Continuing to Show He's More Than a Return Specialist
- Chargers at Chiefs Betting Odds: Week 2 Point Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under
- Chargers Sign DL Christian Covington to Active Roster, Waive DL Breiden Fehoko
- Chargers at Chiefs Week 2 Injury Report: Monday
Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.