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Bolts Injury Updates, Tranquill's Quick Sack & Herbert's Winning Play


The Chargers are 4-2 after a walk-off win over the Broncos.

Here a deeper look at the Bolts after a Week 6 victory on Monday Night Football:

1. Bolts are rolling but banged up

Monday night wasn't the prettiest game you'll ever see, but the Bolts took the overtime win to improve to 4-2.

The Chargers have now won three straight games — all by seven points or less — to have the second-best record in the AFC with the Chiefs and Jets. The Bills lead the conference at 5-1.

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said the Bolts are taking a simple approach of late.

"Just week-to-week. Not making more of it than what it is," Staley said. "It's the NFL. Week-to-week, you have to be ready to play.

"Our guys did a good job being ready to play Monday night against a quality team," Staley added. "As you guys know, a division game, big game, at home, and so our guys came ready to play and did what it took. We were able to get out of there with a W."

The Bolts, however, did suffer some injuries Monday night against Denver.

Staley said running back Joshua Kelley has a sprained MCL and will likely miss two to four weeks.

Kicker Dustin Hopkins is on the same injury timeframe with the hamstring injury he played through in primetime. Taylor Bertolet, who kicked for the Bolts in Week 5 in Cleveland, will fill in for Hopkins in the meantime.

Tight end Donald Parham, Jr., is in the concussion protocol. He had three catches for 53 yards in Week 6.

"Always a concern. We were on top of it last night. We'll make sure that we take our time," Staley said. "I think that we have the advantage of the bye week coming up here, and we'll make sure that we take full advantage of whatever time frame is needed for him to feel his best."

Center Corey Linsley returned to the team facility Tuesday after dealing with an illness in recent days.

"Corey is back in the building today. He's progressing well. He was able to get his hydration and diet where it needs to be," Staley He got a little bit of a modified lift in this morning. We'll work him back into practice this week."

As for wide receiver Keenan Allen, Staley said the wide receiver appears to be on the right track with his hamstring injury. He was injured in the first half of Week 1 and hasn't played since.

"You can expect him to work back into practice this week," Staley said.

2. Tranquill's perfectly timed sack

Before Hopkins' game-winning field goal sent SoFi Stadium into a tizzy, the loudest play of the night came on Drue Tranquill's second sack.

The linebacker got to Russell Wilson early in the fourth quarter, but his second sack was a highlight-reel play that was over in the blink of an eye.

Here are some numbers, courtesy of NFL's NextGen Stats, on Tranquill's second sack.

The Broncos had the ball at their own 43-yard line, and faced third-and-6 with 2 minutes and 31 seconds left in regulation.

The Chargers lined up in their formation, only to have the Broncos call a timeout. The key, Staley said, was for Tranquill not to tip off the fact he was blitzing before the timeout was called.

"We wanted to make sure, in the timeout, that we didn't give away the pressure," Staley said. "They were kind of in a wrong motion, kind of late in the sequence, so they took one.

"I just wanted to make sure, from up top, that — optics-wise — we didn't give it away. I kind of knew that because I was watching the guys who would be blitzing," Staley added. "Then, wanted to make sure that our guys felt good about going at it again."

Tranquill did not give it away, and his patience moments later helped him get to Wilson. In the screenshot below, Tranquill perfectly times his blitz right as the ball is snapped.

Screen Shot 2022-10-18 at 11.18.54 AM

Denver actually had the same number of blockers — six — as the Bolts had rushing at Wilson.

But a great scheme by Staley helped Tranqiull break free, as Denver was confused at the snap.

The right side of the Broncos offensive line team up to block Austin Johnson, who is more of a run stuffer and has 7.0 career sacks in 97 games. Sebastian Joseph-Day was occupied by the center, while the left guard took Jerry Tillery and the left tackle matched up against Khalil Mack.

That left Broncos running back Mike Boone with a choice of blocking Tranquill or Derwin James, Jr., who was also blitzing on the play.

Screen Shot 2022-10-18 at 11.19.18 AM

Boone chose James, and as evident by the screenshot above, Tranquill swarmed on Wilson in a heartbeat.

"I love the call," Tranquill said postgame. "They called a timeout and I was like 'Coach, let's keep it on', and we brought a zero [blitz].

"Great design by Coach Staley and our staff," Tranquill added. "Well-executed, well-timed blitz timing by Derwin and I and everybody did their job and it opened it up for me."

Staley added: "Those guys did a great job of timing it up and executing, and the coverage players did a good job of executing. Drue hit that thing flying. That is going to be one that he is on his podcast talking about.'

Staley on Tuesday praised Tranquill for his steady and consistent play so far through six games.

"Consistency of performance and production in that consistency," Staley said of Tranquill, who has been on the field for every defensive snap over the past three games. "You can be consistent in your job, but are you producing? I think he is doing both of those things.

"He's communicating at a high level, playing with a lot of energy, being a factor in run game, pass game, pass-rush," Staley added. "He's having a really nice season."

3. A winning play

Staley on Monday said the Chargers offense had to endure some tough sledding against a stout Broncos defense at all levels Monday night.

And while there were certainly ups and downs through the game, Staley pointed to the Chargers being 11-for-22 on third downs as a key reason why the Bolts were able to come away with the win.

Yet it was the final third down chance of the game — one the Chargers didn't actually convert — that might have been one of the most hidden plays of the night.

On third-and-12 from the Denver 30-yard line, Justin Herbert backpedaled before finding Mike Williams for a 9-yard gain.

The play was short of the sticks, and was only Williams' second catch of the night, but it moved Hopkins' field goal try from 48 yards to 39 yards.

Staley said Hopkins' limit was around the 25-yard line, which would be a 43-yard attempt.

"Dustin was going to give that a go if we had not converted. I told you guys that at the beginning of the half, when we went for it on that fourth-and-two, initially, we kind of set that line at the 25," Staley said. "We were trying to be careful with him, but at the end of the game, we were just going to give it a go, he was going to give it a go.

"Credit to him for being such a resilient player, tough guy, competitor," Staley added. "You can't say enough about him because he was hurting, obviously, because he's going to be out for a second."

Staley also credited Herbert for recognizing that situation on the fly, and said his impact was more than his stat line against Denver.

"I thought Justin made a lot of winning plays last night," Staley said. "To you guys, when you look at that stat sheet, there were a lot of winning plays that happened in the game that he made."

4. Jackson looking for consistency

The Bolts defense was on fire in the second half and overtime Monday night, limiting the Broncos to just three points and less than 100 yards of total offense on seven possessions.

The Chargers did it without cornerback J.C. Jackson, who was on the sideline while Michael Davis saw the field after halftime.

Staly was asked for his assessment of Jackson after Monday.

"We just need to stay patient. Last night wasn't up to his standard, or ours. We felt like we had to go in a different direction," Staley said. "We're going to stay with him, keep coaching him, and see if we can get him comfortable."

Staley noted that "it's fair to say" that Jackson has made some mental errors. And he added that Jackson has been able to play his usual press coverage that made him so dominant in recent seasons.

"He came here to do the job that he was designed to do," Staley said. "His performance, it has nothing to do with that, fitting in or scheme fit or any of that.

"He's here to do what he does best," Staley added. "We need to make sure that we continue to work with him so that he's focused, consistent and being the player that we know he can be."

5. Spiller, Rountree to battle for spot

With Kelley potentially out for a month, Staley said a pair of running backs — Isaiah Spiller and Larry Rountree III — will compete for that spot on game day.

The Chargers have had three active running backs in every game this season in Austin Ekeler, Kelley and Sony Michel.

"Isaiah and Larry will duke it out in practice this week. We were kind of doing that last week, as well," Staley said. "I think one of those two guys will be going into the game. Special teams will factor into it, as well.

"Isaiah has been doing really well in practice, as I have told you guys. Larry has, too," Staley added. "We'll let those guys compete and we'll let you know at the end of the week."

Rountree had 36 carries for 87 yards and a score during the 2021 season. Spiller was a 2022 fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M.

"The thing Isaiah has done a good job of is earning the trust of the coaching staff and the quarterbacks," Staley said. "He's a well-rounded player, a smart player from a protection standpoint.

"I think with kills and alerts within the play, I think he's earning the trust of his teammates and coaches. I think where you really benefit is just by being out in the fire," Staley added.

Take a look back at the Chargers Week 6 MNF win over the Broncos in monochrome

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