Chargers’ edge rusher Joey Bosa “likely” is headed to the injured reserve list because of a right foot sprain, head coach Brandon Staley said Monday.
The four-time Pro Bowl player was hurt Sunday at Green Bay on the game’s first series.
If he is put on IR, Bosa would sit out at least the next four weeks (Baltimore, New England, Denver and Las Vegas). He’d be eligible to return no sooner than the final three games of the regular season.
Asked specifically if Bosa would be back in 2023, Staley said the answer is “to be determined.”
The news arrived after the Chargers lost to the Packers 23-20 to fall to 4-6. Expected to contend for a playoff berth, the team instead is last in the AFC West and 13th in the conference.
Staley was asked Monday if he believed the Chargers were still alive for a postseason spot.
“Of course, yes,” he said. “It’s wide open.”
Rookie Tuli Tuipulotu will replace Bosa in the starting lineup opposite Khalil Mack. A second-round pick, Tuipulotu has started five games this season, his role expanding when Bosa was dealing with an injury to his left big toe.
Against the Packers, Tuipulotu and Mack played 66 of 72 defensive snaps, the 92% participation rate representing a season high for both players.
The Chargers also are without reserve edge rusher Chris Rumph II, who suffered a fractured foot while warming up for the Chargers’ Week 10 game against Detroit. Rumph had surgery and could sit out the rest of the season.
After Rumph went down, the team signed Justin Hollins, who played for Staley when both were with the Broncos and the Rams. Hollins was on the field for 16 defensive snaps Sunday.
The Chargers have two edge rushers — Brevin Allen and Andrew Farmer II — on their practice squad.
Bosa, 28 and in his eighth year, sat out the first nine games of the 2018 season because of an injury to his left foot. Two years later, he sat out four games after suffering a pair of concussions.
Last season, a groin injury cost Bosa 12 games, though he returned after surgery explaining that he felt better than he had in years.
Throughout training camp this summer, Bosa repeatedly talked about being encouraged by his favorable health. Then he hurt his big toe and now he’s dealing with his sprained foot.
The latest injury comes as the Chargers were beginning to take increased advantage of having three quality rushers coming off the edge. Tuipulotu’s versatility had allowed Staley to use all three at the same time.
Entering the Monday night game, only two teams — Baltimore and Buffalo — were averaging more than the Chargers’ 3.4 sacks per game.
Individually, Mack was fourth in the NFL with 11 sacks, his highest total since 2018, the season he received his third and most recent All-Pro recognition.
Bosa’s absence will be felt immediately as the Chargers prepare this week to face Lamar Jackson, the Ravens’ elusive quarterback. Keeping Jackson in the pocket figures to be a key in trying to slow the Baltimore offense.
The stout play of the Chargers’ edge rushers also has helped the team improve its run defense, something that was a publicly stated goal by several players coming into the season.
Despite that success, the Chargers have had a tough overall season defensively because of their struggles in stopping the pass and limiting explosive plays. They are last in the league in yards allowed per game through the air.
Staley said he and his assistants are “working through adjustments with personnel” as it relates to trying to improve the performance of his defensive backs. He suggested some players would be battling for their jobs in practice.
“I think the nature is just trying to find the right combination of guys that’s going to allow us to play more consistently,” Staley said. “We want it to be competitive. … I think it’s fair to say that there’s going to be a lot of competition in the secondary.”
The Chargers also probably lost special teams player Tanner Muse for an extended period. As with Bosa, Muse, who suffered a knee sprain against Green Bay, likely will end up on IR, Staley said.