COSTA MESA — Keenan Allen didn’t practice for the third consecutive day on Friday, and the Chargers ruled him out of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, the third straight game he’ll miss because of a nagging hamstring injury he suffered in the season-opening game Sept. 11.
Donald Parham Jr. practiced for the third consecutive day and the Chargers expect him to make his season debut Sunday against the Browns, after he sat out the season’s first four games because of a hamstring injury sustained during the early days of training camp in August.
Hamstrings are funny things.
Not funny, ha-ha, either.
Parham, a tight end, won’t replace Allen, a wide receiver, in the lineup. Parham will be a welcome addition no matter how many snaps he gets, however, a valuable target for quarterback Justin Herbert. Gerald Everett has been a capable fill-in while Parham has been sidelined to start the season.
Everett has 16 receptions in four games, the Chargers’ third-leading receiver behind Austin Ekeler (27 catches) and Mike Walliams (18 catches). Everett also has caught two passes for touchdowns, including one in last weekend’s victory over the Houston Texans, and he has averaged 13.2 yards per catch.
“Gerald’s role is going to stay as is, but what I think what you can do with Donald is he can do some of the jobs to take a load off of Gerald a little bit,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Friday. “Gerald was sharing multiple jobs with (Parham) being out. I’m excited about all three.”
By “all three,” Staley referred to Parham, Everett and a third tight end, Tre’ McKitty. Parham’s value to the Chargers isn’t just as a receiver. He’s also a standout blocker, capable of giving Herbert and his fractured rib cartilage all the more protection from the Browns’ pass rush on Sunday.
“(Parham) is a weapon for us,” Staley said. “We’re hoping to use him on Sunday.”
The road back to the Chargers’ active roster has been a long one for Parham, who sustained a concussion in a game last Dec. 16, slamming his head on the SoFi Stadium turf after trying to catch a pass in the end zone from Herbert during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I’ve got so much respect for him,” Herbert said of Parham. “It’s about as tough a situation as it gets. Everyone on our team was behind him. They believed in him. I think that’s a testament to how good of a character he is and how great of a teammate he is. Everyone’s got his back.
“Everyone’s excited to see him back out there.”
Unlike the first two weeks after he was injured in the Chargers’ loss to the Chiefs on Sept. 15, Herbert was able to throw in each of the team’s three practices this week. He said he’s learned to manage the injury better, backing off before he gets too sore and also continuing his treatment.
“It’s gotten a lot better,” Herbert said when asked if the soreness has decreased in the days and weeks since he was hurt while making a throw in the fourth quarter against Kansas City. “It’s definitely improving with time and just icing it and doing everything in the treatment room to get better.”
Some adjustments have been easier than others, though.
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“It’s awfully tough when I don’t get to throw,” he said. “I love throwing the ball more than anyone. Just not being out there throwing all the time is definitely something I’ve had to adjust to. I’m getting more comfortable, feeling better, continuing to get my treatment, my rehab, so I feel my best on Sundays.”
Jamaree Salyer, a rookie offensive lineman, earned rave reviews after his first NFL start in the Chargers’ 34-24 victory over the Texans. He didn’t give up a sack, and he didn’t give up a pressured or hurried throw from Herbert while replacing Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater, who has ruptured biceps.
Herbert had his say Friday.
“Jamaree has definitely stepped it up,” Herbert said. “We knew how good he was going to be in camp. We saw him all camp long. For him to be able to step up and not miss a beat, he’s really stepped it up. He knows the offense really well. He’s got a great feel for that side of the offensive line.”
Kicker Justin Hopkins was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game because of a right quadriceps injury. His participation is likely to be determined right before the kickoff. If he can’t play, then Taylor Bertolet will assume the kicking duties. Hopkins has made five of six field goals and all 11 extra points.