Below are three takeaways from Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi, Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill and outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka's media availability before Thursday's practice:
Lombardi confident in skill position groups
The Chargers took the field for practice as they ramped up preparation for a Week 4 road matchup against the Texans.
After not having wide receiver Keenan Allen since he went out in Week 1, plus the loss of Jalen Guyton for the season due to a torn ACL, the wide receiver room has been banged up.
During his Thursday press conference, Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi talked about the injuries to his receivers, while adding what they needed to do with or without Allen.
"I think those are both tough breaks," Lombardi said. "Keenan's a guy that's on a mend. We expect him back soon. Not exactly sure when, could be this week, might be next week.
"Obviously, we still have Mike [Williams], he's a guy we need to get more involved," Lombardi added.
In Allen's absence, both wide receivers Joshua Palmer and Deandre Carter have gotten more snaps. Although Lombardi said that others will have to step up, he believes that they have enough at other skill positions to deal with the losses.
"We feel great about Josh [Palmer]," Lombardi said. "[Carter], has been a really good addition for us this year. The other guys are going to have to step up.
"But, between our running backs, tight ends and receivers, we feel like we have enough," Lombardi added.
On the topic of Carter, who has been described as "quarterback friendly" by others up to this point, his emergence has been big for the team as they deal with injuries.
Currently tied for the team lead in receiving yards, Lombardi talked about Carter and how him stepping up has not been a surprise.
"I think we felt really good about him," Lombardi said. "We obviously saw his film in Washington, saw that he was a good player and our opinion rose when we saw him in training camp and in the offseason.
"I think injuries forced him into more reps than we anticipated but we're not surprised about what he's doing," he added.
Collective effort to replace Bosa
A big topic of conversation heading into the matchup against the Texans has been the loss of outside linebacker Joey Bosa, who was placed on Injured Reserve on Wednesday with a groin injury.
Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill believes that although you can't replace Bosa's presence, it will be a mix of many players filling in that spot.
"I think it's going to be a combination of more guys filling in that spot," Hill said. "Obviously it's hard to replace what Joey does and the attention that he brings, but we have some good talented guys behind him. They'll step up in that role."
The natural transition will be outside linebacker Chris Rumph II rushing on the opposite side of Khalil Mack for the majority of the time. While he does not know the exact number of players that will be in that spot, Hill has an idea of guys they can rotate.
"We have about four or five," Hill said. "Obviously, you have the addition of Kenneth Murray doing it last year, so we got about four or five guys that can roll in there. Obviously, [Rumph] and [Mack] will be in there the majority of the time, but we do have guys that can spell them."
To try and help with depth, the Chargers claimed outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka off waivers Tuesday. Tuszka was a 2020 draft pick by Denver. Hill talked about what Tuszka brings to the roster.
"Just a tough smart guy. Reliable, he gives you special teams value from Day 1," Hill said "He's a guy who can come in here and learn his job in a couple days and be able to spell you."
"He's been apart of this system before, so just the verbiage, being able to translate things here and there, he should be able to spot us in some areas and continue to grow into that role," Hill added.
As Hill mentioned, Tuszka has some familiarity with Hill, as Hill was the defensive backs coach in Denver during that season, and the system as a whole, something he believes will help his transition to a new team.
"It'll be an easy transition, I think," Tuszka said. "A little familiarity so it'll just be a matter of getting used to the terminology that's a little bit different.
"There's a lot of crossover, so it makes it an easy transition," Tuszka added.
Hill 'optimistic' defense will be better
The Chargers had high expectations for the defensive side of the football before the year started.
Even after the season hasn't started to the full extent of how they expected, Hill believes that it is still too early to get down.
"It's still early in the season," Hill said. "[We're] being optimistic that we're still going to be that defense that we out [to be] in the beginning of the year."
One big piece of the defense who has missed time has been cornerback J.C. Jackson, who missed Week 1 and Week 3.
The return of Jackson is something that Hill believes will be huge for the defense, as he is the team's top corner. Still, even after missing some time, Hill adds that Jackson remains in good spirits.
"[Jackson] is getting himself healthy. It's still early in the year," Hill said. "We expect that No. 1 corner to be out there and really man a side of the field for us.
"I think that he's feeling good. He's in good spirits right now. We're looking forward to these upcoming practices and to the game," Hill added.
With Bosa out and Jackson also missing some time so far this year, Hill still believes that getting guys healthy can still reach them to their goal they set out before the season started.
"Getting all those guys in there, I still think that can come in front of us," Hill said. "[We] just got to get guys in and be healthy."
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