COSTA MESA — The hits keep coming for the Chargers, who revealed Wednesday that edge rusher Joey Bosa would undergo surgery to mend a groin tear suffered in the first quarter of their loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Chargers expect him back on the field before the season ends.
Bosa, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, will be replaced by Chris Rumph II, a second-year player who will make his first start in the NFL on Sunday against the Houston Texans, with veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy also expected to contribute. The Chargers drafted Rumph in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, and he’s been strictly a backup.
“The same things you expect out of Joey, I expect out of myself,” Rumph said.
Rumph said tagging along with Bosa and Khalil Mack during training camp and into the regular season has been a great learning experience. Bosa and Mack have formed a fast friendship, with Rumph a constant presence near them during meetings, practices and games.
“Those are two Hall of Famers,” Rumph said. “Any time I’m in a team meeting, I’m always picking their minds. When they’re talking by themselves, I’m right behind them, picking up little things I can apply to my own game. I’m not expected to be Joey or Khalil, but there are certain things I can take from each one of them and apply to my own game.”
Coach Brandon Staley said Rumph was “ready, ready to play on the edge.”
The Chargers took one rather large step during the offseason to improve their pass rush by acquiring Mack, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year while with the then-Oakland Raiders in 2016, in a trade with the Chicago Bears on March 16.
By adding Mack, the Chargers hoped to alleviate some of the opposition’s pressure focused on Bosa, and it had worked well in three games. Or, at least, until Bosa was injured on a second-and-15 passing play late in the first quarter of the Chargers’ 38-10 loss to the Jaguars.
“That’s just a movie script,” Staley said of a dream lineup with Bosa (59.5 career sacks in seven seasons) as one heralded edge rusher and Mack (80.5 sacks in his ninth season) as the other. “That’s not the NFL. Those guys were playing so well together, so that part was tough. The good news is we’re going to get (Bosa) back at some point this year. The good news is we do have Khalil Mack. You want to build a team that can withstand the NFL.
“Our team is going to rally together.”
Staley, whose team is 1-2 as it prepares for back-to-back road games at Houston (0-2-1) and Cleveland (2-1), acknowledged that “we’re going to have to make some adjustments.”
In fact, the Chargers placed Bosa and left tackle Rashawn Slater on injured reserve and signed wide receiver Jason Moore Jr. and tight end Richard Rodgers to the active roster. Slater will undergo surgery on his left biceps rupture and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Jamaree Salyer, a sixth-round draft pick this past spring, will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Texans in place of Slater at left tackle, giving the Chargers two rookies on their offensive line for the immediate future. Zion Johnson, a right tackle, was the Chargers’ first-round pick in April.
Storm Norton will be the “swing tackle,” as Staley described him.
Salyer, like Rumph, said he looked forward to the challenge of replacing a Pro Bowl player and making the most of his unexpected opportunity to move into the Chargers’ starting lineup Sunday. Salyer said he had already reached out to Slater, a second-year player, for advice.
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Salyer spent almost all of training camp at left guard after starting all 11 games at left tackle for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs as a senior in 2021. Slater’s presence at left tackle with the Chargers limited Salyer to a backup’s role behind veteran left guard Matt Feiler.
“I’m excited,” Salyer said. “I’ve been waiting to go. When they gave me the opportunity I was excited. I never knew what position it was going to be because I can play all five (offensive line) positions. It’s a great opportunity. Everything I have to prove is to my teammates.”
The Chargers learned a great deal about quarterback Justin Herbert’s fractured rib cartilage and how best to monitor his workload, recovery and treatment after a week of uncertainty following his injury on Sept. 15 in Kansas City. This week has been less stressful so far for all concerned.
“There were a lot of unknowns going into the game (Sunday against Jacksonville),” Staley said. “This week, we just have a lot more certainty about how to manage it moving forward, and I think that’s the big thing. But getting last week out of the way, I think we have a much better plan of attack.”
Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa, middle, is checked on by trainers during the first half of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)