Here's a breakdown of the news from the Chargers' 17th week of the season:
Monday: 'Playoffs Start this Sunday'
On Monday, head coach Brandon Staley, running back Justin Jackson and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. broke down the Chargers loss in Houston. Jackson, who had a career day against Houston by totaling 162 total yards from scrimmage, talked about what the Bolts need to do against the Denver Broncos with a playoff berth on the line.
"We have Denver this week, obviously, a very worthy opponent," Jackson said. They're a team that we felt like we should have beat last time. We have to execute better this time around and make sure that we're on our P's and Q's. The playoffs start this Sunday, we have to come with that energy and go out there and get a win at our home stadium. That will be really important for us."
On Monday, running back Austin Ekeler, cornerback Tevaughn Campbell and DL Joe Gaziano were all activated off the COVID-19 list followed by DL Justin Jones, Chris Rumph II and return specialist Andre Roberts the next day.
On Tuesday, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to modify the league's COVID-19 protocols and change the isolation period for asymptomatic vaccinated and unvaccinated players from 10 to five days. The shortened isolation period opened the door for Chargers starters like Mike Williams, Michael Davis and Nasir Adderley to potentially play on Sunday against the Broncos.
Wednesday: Chargers rushing duo
On Wednesday, running back Austin Ekeler returned to the team for the first time since missing Week 16's game due to being added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Ekeler talked about the ‘good energy’ he feels in his return and how exciting it is for the Bolts’ rushing attack to now have the emergence of Jackson in recent weeks.
"It's great to have that duo in there where we feel like, 'Hey, no matter who the back is in the game they are going to be efficient,'" Ekeler said. "I think it's really helped our run game as well because J.J. is a really efficient runner. Glad to have him because that is definitely going to be a part of the game plan moving forward."
Staley detailed the Bolts' plan when it comes to defending Broncos quarterback Drew Lock on Sunday. Lock will likely get the start for the Broncos because starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is still recovering from a concussion that he suffered in Week 15.
"There are mostly similarities in terms of how they run their offense, but there are some things that Drew brings to the table that Teddy doesn't, and vice-versa," Staley said. "I think that you just study the player and what type of style he has; the differences, the subtle things at the line of scrimmage, and in the huddle. Then, you go full speed ahead with him."
OLB Joey Bosa, center Corey Linsley, wide receiver Jalen Guyton, defensive back Kemon Hall and safety Trey Marshall were activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, setting up their return after missing Week 16.
Thursday: Keys to a win against the Broncos
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert continues to break records in his second season in the NFL. On Sunday, Herbert could break yet another record, this time the Chargers franchise record for most touchdown passes in a single season. With two touchdown passes on Sunday, Herbert would get to 35 touchdown passes on the year and break Phillip Rivers' 2008 record of 34. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi discussed what it would mean to see Herbert get that record this season.
"He's just such a special talent and player," Lombardi said. "I think, hopefully with two games left, that's a record that falls for him, in his favor. I'm sure regardless of who's coaching here, that guy is going to set a lot of records over the course of his career. I'm happy to be a part of it, but the credit belongs to the guys on the field. Justin would say, 'Hey, it's the guys around me that are helping me,' but he's a special talent, for sure. He's going to be successful regardless of who's standing at this podium."
On Thursday, the Bolts coordinators also talked about what they need to do in order to beat their AFC West rival, this time at home. For defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, a big part of that will be getting safety Derwin James Jr. back from a hamstring injury. James Jr. was limited during Thursday’s practice but the Bolts hope to get him back in a must win game ahead. Hill talked about what makes James Jr. such a special player.
"He's so in tune with the gameplan," he said. "He's a force at every level, so he can communicate to the guys up front things that they may need checks on or anticipate. Same thing at the linebacker level. Then, in the back end, he can communicate what they're doing on those down-and-distances, just trying to help everybody at each level because he is so in tune with the gameplan. He plays at all three levels. I think that's something that you definitely miss when he's not in the ballgame."
Friday: Getting Derwin back, full focus on Denver
On Friday, Justin Herbert talked about what the Bolts need to do to have success against the Broncos this time around. Mike Williams was activated off the Reserve/COVID list on Thursday and Herbert talked about what Williams adds to the Chargers offense.
"He's an incredibly gifted receiver," Herbert said. "He makes some special plays happen on the outside. He's a huge part of our offense. To have a guy like that back, it gives you a sense of security because you know that he's going to go up there and make a play happen."
In order to clinch an AFC Wild Card spot, the Bolts need to beat the Broncos on Sunday in Week 17 and then go on the road in Week 18 and beat the Las Vegas Raiders. They also need some help. If the Ravens lose to the Rams and the Titans are able to beat the Dolphins in Week 17, then the Bolts will regain their playoff destiny as long as they win out. As for Staley and the Bolts, they won't be scoreboard watching those earlier games, their full attention will be on the Broncos.
"If you're looking at anybody else, then you're going to get beat by the team that's right in front of you," Staley said. "That's what the shield of the NFL represents; making sure that you respect the game. That's what we're going to do. Denver is an outstanding team. They're extremely well-coached and they have a ton of really, really good players. They beat us the first time. They have our full attention."
Jared Cook was added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list and Staley noted he is "unlikely [to play], but not officially [out]."
The Bolts kick off Week 17 against the Broncos at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.
Videos of the Week
This week also brought a collection of videos to Chargers fans, take a look at the top videos released throughout the week.
Takeout with Drue Tranquill
Linebacker Drue Tranquill sits down for a candlelit dinner with quarterback Chase Daniel to rank his favorite of the Jonas Brothers and share how he went from a fourth-round pick to a defensive starter on episode 4 of Takeout, presented by the Southern California BMW Centers.
Film Room: Justin Jackson's Breakthrough Performance
On this episode of Film Room, Chris Hayre and Daniel Jeremiah break down game film of Justin Jackson's breakthrough performance against the Texans and what makes Justin Simmons such a great safety ahead of the Los Angeles Chargers' Week 17 matchup vs. the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium.
Three Community Leaders Surprised by Chargers with Super Bowl Tickets
As a thank you for their dedication to mentoring disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles, the Chargers invited three community leaders to the Chargers facility to share their stories. What these mentors didn't know is that the Chargers had an extra surprise in store: tickets to Super Bowl LVI.
Ice Cold Tweets 2021: Episode 8
Chargers players read old tweets from their teammates and guess who tweeted it.
Tweets of the Week
Bolt Up for 2022!
Secure your 2022 Season Ticket Memberships today!. Click here to learn more.