The football gods giveth and the football gods taketh away.
Just hours after announcing the return of tight end Hunter Henry, the Los Angeles Chargers received word that they would be shorthanded on their defense once again. Linebacker Jatavis Brown will be out for the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury.
Entering his third season, Brown had seen his mix of highs and lows adjusting to the NFL. The former fourth-round draft selection collected 76 total tackles as a rookie back in 2016 and looked promising in coverage with six pass deflections. His second season was filled with mix reviews as he finished with 76 tackles but looked lost in coverage.
Following the loss of middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, Brown began to split time between both inside and outside linebacker. Showing growth in the middle, Brown looked to possibly revitalize his stock before suffering an injury against the Broncos on Sunday.
The Chargers linebacker room has taken its fair share of hits this season. Perryman was ruled out following an early knee injury against the Oakland Raiders while rookie linebacker Kyzir White has been out since Week 6 after having knee surgery. Los Angeles is expected to play Hayes Pullard in place of Brown for the remainder of the postseason.
Brown’s injury is now the fourth season-ending story for the Los Angeles’ defense. Along with the pair of linebackers, cornerback Jason Verrett suffered a torn Achilles during the team’s OTA while defensive tackle Corey Liuget suffered a knee injury during the team’s first matchup with Denver.
Los Angeles is still in prime position to make a run in the playoffs thanks to their pass rush and their secondary success. The team currently ranks 19th with 38 total sacks and 15th in turnovers with 13 interceptions. While the loss of Brown does sting following his recent success, it’s not a nail in the coffin for Gus Bradley’s defense.
Sure, the Bolts will have to play another man short, but the team finished with a 12-4 record even with multiple key injuries. The Ravens offense has looked great over the past two weeks, but a good game from Los Angeles’ pass rush could send Baltimore packing in front of their home crowd on Sunday afternoon.