Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley and defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day from Wednesday's media sessions:
Chargers enter second half of the season
The Chargers returned to the practice field Wednesday to began preparation for their primetime matchup against the 49ers on Sunday Night Football.
With the league now approaching Week 10, this marks the second half of the season, as the final stretch of the year rapidly approaches.
Sitting at 5-3, the Chargers season has hit some bumps along the way. Still, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley knows that the season is far from over.
"I think, for us, the season is nowhere near the finish," Staley said. "I think you have to understand that there is a long way to go. I think that just because we have been through a lot doesn't mean there is not going to be a lot more that happens. We have to be ready for a lot more to happen."
A lot has in fact happened, with injuries to key players being one of them. But Staley says that the team must be prepared for what's to come — a message that he's relating to them.
"A lot has happened and a lot more is going to happen, and that's what I want our team to be ready for is that that is going to be a fact in the last part of the season, moving forward," Staley said.
Out of the final nine games remaining on the schedule, four of them are currently set to kickoff in primetime, including the next two weeks — this Sunday's contest against the 49ers and the Week 11 matchup at home against the Chiefs.
A national stage is an opportunity for the team to showcase their level of talent, but defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day does not believe it adds any extra pressure.
"Honestly no, I don't think the lights or cameras add any of that," Joseph-Day said. "I think at the end of the day, playing this game of football you want to play your best product out on the field.
"I think each and every week we try to emphasize that. It happens just to be primetime and it's cool," Joseph-Day added.
The Bolts are grateful to be able to play in primetime, but are not overly worried about that, as they team knows the level of opponent that awaits them on Sunday.
"It's a blessing for sure, people are going to be able to watch our team, watch who the Chargers are," Joseph-Day said. "We're just more so focused on the little things that lead up to this game this week, because it's a big one for sure."
Johnson's absence a loss for interior D-Line
The Chargers received some unfortunate news following the win over the Falcons this past Sunday.
After leaving the game in the second half, defensive lineman Austin Johnson's status was updated by Staley on Monday.
"Austin Johnson has an injury to his MCL and a fracture to his knee, and he will be out for the season," Staley said.
Johnson had put together a good season on the interior of the defensive line, and his absence will be felt on the field. But Staley says that Johnson will still contribute in a different way.
"I'm really disappointed because Austin [Johnson] has been fantastic since he's gotten here," Staley said on Monday. "I love coaching him, we love coaching him, but this is part of the NFL. We'll get him back here soon.
"He's going to stay with us and he is going to be a key contributor, helping these guys throughout the rest of the season," Staley added.
On Wednesday, defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko was signed to the active roster from the practice squad and in a corresponding move, placed Johnson on Injured Reserve.
Fehoko now joins an interior with Joseph-Day, Morgan Fox, Jerry Tillery, Christian Covington and Otito Ogbonnia — all players who have seen the field for the Bolts this year.
This week of practice will be big in deciding who will take over for Johnson according to Staley, as they are going to let them compete in preparation for a 49ers team with a dynamic run game.
"We're going to let guys compete during practice and see how practice goes," Staley said. "We're going to be looking from within our team, but we want to get those guys a fair chance to compete, get them the reps so that we can see them, and make our decisions later on in the week."
Joseph-Day who, like Johnson, was brought in this past offseason to sure up the interior of the defensive line, talked about the loss, adding that while you can't make up for a loss like his, there are players that will be ready to step up.
"That's the thing, I don't think you can make up for a loss like that. It's a big loss for sure," Joseph-Day said. "But, we do have players that ready to step up, guys like [Christian Covington], guys like [Breiden] Fehoko, [Morgan] Fox obviously, he's been doing a good job all season.
"Can't replace a guy like that. Nothing but prayers and thoughts to Austin as he recovers. We just have to go out there and play for him," Joseph-Day added.
Check out the best photos from Cameron Dicker's game-winning FG performance in Atlanta, after just being signed to the team on Thursday, that earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for Week 9 of the 2022 season.
Staley provides injury updates
Staley on Wednesday provided injury updates for a handful of players, beginning with wide receiver Keenan Allen.
"Keenan is day-to-day. He's working back [from a hamstring injury]," Staley said. "I don't think you will see him out there at practice today, but day-to-day."
"We'll find out a lot more as the week goes on," Staley added when asked if he would play Sunday. "That's kind of what it's going to be here for a while. It's not going to be weeks, but it will be day-to-day."
As for Trey Pipkins III, who is dealing with a sprained MCL, Staley said the right tackle is "sore."
"It will probably be a game-time decision for him, but working his way back," Staley said.
Staley also provided an update on outside linebacker Chris Rumph II, who also has a sprained MCL.
"He's day-to-day," Staley said. "There is a chance that he can play in this game, but he's going to be day-to-day and it will be more of a game-time decision."
In the longer term, Mike Williams is week-to-week with a high ankle sprain.
As for Joey Bosa, Staley said the outside linebacker continues to rehab from a groin injury at Hoag Performance Center, but it's still too early to determine when he'll return to practice.
"I just know that he's back in the building. It's good to see him," Staley said. "He's not there for practice yet. We'll let you know when he's going to come back to practice.
"He is in good spirits," Staley added. "I think that we're getting closer to that practice point, just don't know exactly when that is going to be."
Staley added that defensive tackle Austin Johnson is going on Injured Reserve with a fractured left knee and sprained MCL.
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