Rashawn Slater knew he had suffered a serious injury in Week 3 against the Jaguars.
"I felt it," Slater said of his torn left bicep muscle. "I felt a pop I'd never felt before. I knew it was serious and they diagnosed it pretty quickly.
"Just kind of a freak thing," Slater added. "A play I've done a million times and it just hyperextended and popped."
The standout left tackle also knew the recovery timetable for such an injury, and gave himself two options as he began his rehab process.
"I always had the mindset that I was either going to get a good jump on the offseason or that I was going to come back," Slater said. "Thankfully the guys played really hard and gave me an opportunity to come back.
"It's been a really smooth process and I'm glad to be back out there," Slater added.
The Chargers designated Slater to return from Injured Reserve on Tuesday, activating a 21-day practice window for the 23-year-old. He must be activated off Injured Reserve in that timespan to be able to play in a game.
The 13th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Slater was among the game's best players at his position as a rookie, earning Pro Bowl and Second-Team All-Pro honors in 2021 when he started all 16 games while playing every offensive snap.
Slater took part in his first live practice in more than four months Thursday, going through individual drills. And while he didn't give a percentage on his health, he indicated he's feeling strong.
"It's hard to say because I haven't had a chance to go full speed yet," Slater said. "But [in the] weight room, I'm getting really close.
"That's why I got cleared to go out, I was within 10 percent from my left side to my right side," Slater added.
Slater said he's been focused on taking mental reps and watching film over the past few months. And he's been rooting on rookie Jamaree Salyer, who has filled in exceptionally well I Slater's spot.
"It's been great, honestly. I couldn't have asked for a smoother process," Slater said. "And Jamaree came in, he's been playing at a very high level.
"We didn't suffer that much in that department," Slater added. "He's ben doing his own thing. He's special."
Slater said it remains up in the air if he could return if the Chargers advance in the playoffs with a win over the Jaguars.
"I'm not sure yet, we're kind of just slowly working me back into it," Slater said. "We'll see how it goes."
He later added: "My vision that fueled me was to come back a better player than when I left," Slater said. "
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