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5 Takeaways: Staley Provides Update on Justin Herbert's Finger Injury Ahead of Week 5 Bye


The Bolts are 2-2 and are off Sunday for a Week 5 bye.

Here are five takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley on Monday:

1. An update on Herbert

Justin Herbert has a fractured finger on his left hand, the Chargers confirmed Monday afternoon.

Herbert was injured late in the third quarter of Sunday's 24-17 win over the Raiders. He spent some time in the blue medical tent but did not miss a single offensive snap.

"Tough customer," said Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley.

The Chargers bye week comes at a good time as the Bolts have several starters who are dealing with injuries.

Staley on Monday said he had "no updates" on Austin Ekeler, Joey Bosa or Derwin James, Jr., all of whom did not play in Week 4.

Staley also gave the same update on tight end Donald Parham, Jr., who left Sunday's game with a wrist injury.

"Same as [Sunday], wrist and his status will be determined heading into the Dallas week," Staley said.

Staley was also asked about wide receiver Jalen Guyton, who began the year on Injured Reserve after suffering a torn ACL in Week 3 of the 2022 season.

Staley said it remains to be seen if the Chargers will activate Guyton's 21-day practice window next week.

"We will update you when we open up that window," Staley said. "But he is progressing."

Staley also did not have an update on safety JT Woods, who was placed on the Non-Football Illness List on Saturday.

Take a look back at the Chargers Week 4 division win over the Raiders in monochrome

2. A look back at Mack

Khalil Mack etched his name in the NFL record books Sunday with his 6.0-sack performance.

The Bolts outside linebacker set both a career best and also a Chargers single-game franchise record with his outing, and finished one sack away from tying the NFL single-game mark of 7.0 sacks.

Staley said Monday that, after watching the film back, Mack could have gotten close (or even passed) Derrick Thomas' single-game record.

"He could have had more production," Staley said of Mack. "He was around the quarterback a lot, very disruptive. He had a tipped pass. He was around the guy more than just the 6.0 sacks.

"It was a complete performance by him and one that I'm not surprised about at all," Staley added. "He's capable of that and there are very few who are capable of that type of performance, but he's certainly one of them. He was part of history, both NFL and the Chargers."

The biggest key to Mack's success?

Staley credited the entire defense for holding the Raiders to just 76 rushing yards on 23 carries, good for just 3.3 yards per attempt. Josh Jacobs, the 2022 NFL rushing leader, had 58 yards on 17 attempts.

A stout run defense then led to plenty of second and third-and-long situations, which allowed Mack to pin his ears back and get after rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell.

"[Mack had] been rushing like that all year, we were just able to create more opportunities for him because guys did such a good job on the running back … we held him in check," Staley said.

He later added: "That gave us more opportunities to rush. I thought our disguise in the secondary bought an extra count for him to get there. And then he just won his matchups. He looked healthy [with] his angle, his takeoff, the variety that he was playing with. He won in a lot of different ways."

3. Self-scouting at the bye

The Bolts are on a break this week, but it's an early one.

In fact, the Week 5 bye is the earliest one a team can have during the season. And it's the earliest one the Bolts have had under Staley since he took over in 2021.

The Chargers had a Week 8 bye a year ago and a Week 7 bye in 2021, meaning Staley and his staff are taking a different approach this year.

Instead of having nearly half-a-season of data to work with, the Bolts only have four games and will instead look to the future a bit more.

"You have so much in front of you I think it's a little bit more projecting and anticipating what you're going to be, maybe a little bit more thinktank about what we want our team to look like here in the weeks after the bye," Staley said, "Then projecting to the end of the season instead of, 'Hey, I've got all this assessment for like half the season where I've got eight, nine, 10 games to look at'.

"We've got a much shorter inventory to go by but I think we can also kind of use it as we have four games, but we also have six weeks of training camp, 'Hey let's take a look at it that way'. That's an eight-to-nine-week body of work, now let's anticipate in the future," Staley added. "It's a little bit different that way for sure, but you're trying to spend the time the same way which is making sure when you get into the game week for Dallas, that you have a pretty clear approach and a lot of that is the state of your team health wise position as well."

Staley said the emphasis going forward will be on personnel and how the Chargers can best maximize their players on the roster to help the team in the final 13 games.

And, with the Bolts first four games all being decided by seven points or less, Staley wants his players to take some time off both mentally and physically during the bye.

His main goal this week?

"Rest. I think what's top of our list is just rest and making sure we get a fresh group going into Dallas that's hungry, that's ready to go play a quality game against a quality team," Staley said. "I think our guys, in these first four games, we've played in a lot of tight games, tough games.

"I think for us right now, the No. 1 thing is rest and that way we can come back from next week when we get into practice and just make sure we're headed to a good week of practice for Dallas," Staley added.

The Chargers host the Cowboys on Monday Night Football in Week 6.

Get an inside look at the postgame celebration from the Chargers 24-17 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

4. Fresh faces stepping up

As mentioned above, the Chargers were without a handful of starters against Las Vegas.

While James was out, so too was fellow starting safety Alohi Gilman. And with Woods on the NFI List, that meant starts for Dean Marlowe and Raheem Layne, the latter of which made his first NFL start.

Staley said the duo played "fantastic" and that "they both were really solid in the game."

Layne, who joined the Bolts as an undrafted free agent in 2022, was credited with three tackles.

"Raheem, we like this guy a lot," Staley said. "He's improved every year and is one of our best special teams players."

Marlowe made his 19th career start but first with the Chargers. He previously made nine starts with the Lions, eight with the Bills and one with the Falcons.

Marlowe was credited with four tackles, including a tackle for loss, and nearly had an interception in deep coverage.

"I think you saw all of Dean's experience, just the natural disguise, the communication," Staley said. "He's urgent. He's a bigger guy, physical. He's been around a lot of quality secondaries.

"I think being in Buffalo with Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer — that group of guys who I have a lot of respect for [and] they play in a system that is similar to ours at the safety position — and that really helped us yesterday," Staley added. "You saw the advantage of an experienced player."

Staley also noted that Chargers Defensive Coordinator Derrick Ansley, Chargers Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/Secondary Coach Tom Donatell and assistant secondary coach Will Harris did a great job of having that duo prepared.

Staley also praised newcomer Simi Fehko at gunner after the wide receiver joined the team last week. And he singled out Will Clapp, who started in place of Corey Linsley.

5. An eye on special teams

If there's one thing Staley wants, it's for the Bolts to play complementary football as a team.

While each unit had its moments Sunday, Staley said that the Chargers special teams is "a group that needs to improve."

Staley listed off a handful of things that need to be better than they were Sunday.

"Kickoff cover was poor, our first two punts were poor from the punter and then our punt return unit, we gave up over 50 yards of net punting," Staley said. "It's a tough punt when he goes sidewinder select, it's a good punt by them, it's a tough one to get to, but we lost a lot of field position yesterday. Just need to improve."

The Chargers were playing without cornerback Deane Leonard, a key special teams player who missed Week 4 because of a hamstring injury.

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