Chargers cornerback Trevor Williams leaves camp on crutches
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Chargers cornerback Trevor Williams injured his leg during the fourth practice of training camp Tuesday, potentially dealing another blow to Los Angeles’ depth in the defensive secondary.
But coach Anthony Lynn is cautiously optimistic that his team’s latest injury isn’t serious.
Williams was hurt while defending receiver Mike Williams in a red zone drill. Trevor Williams had to be helped off the field by teammate Jahleel Addae.
After getting attention from the training staff, he left Jack Hammett Sports Complex on crutches with his left foot in a walking boot.
The injury and Williams’ reaction to it were foreboding, but Lynn was hopeful he hasn’t lost his starting cornerback for an extended period.
“You’re holding your breath there,” Lynn said. “I think he sprained his ankle, but I don’t think it’s bad. I mean, it’s the fourth day of training camp. Hell, we have coaches around here limping. Coaches are sore, so I can’t imagine how the players feel.”
After the Chargers’ history with catastrophic injuries in the past few seasons, Lynn won’t exhale until Williams undergoes further tests.
The Chargers are a popular pick to earn a playoff spot this fall, but they already incurred serious injuries to two potential key contributors before training camp even began.
Los Angeles lost starting tight end Hunter Henry to a knee injury on a non-contact drill in May. The Chargers then lost long-injured former Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett to a torn Achilles tendon during a conditioning test last week.
Verrett’s most recent injury occurred at the brink of his comeback after missing most of the past two seasons. His newest setback “broke a lot of our hearts,” Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward said.
But Verrett’s absence wasn’t a disaster for the Chargers last season because of the surprising emergence of Williams, who stepped into a key role after catching on with the Chargers in 2016 as an undrafted free agent from Penn State.
Williams started five games as a rookie, and he started 15 more games last season opposite Hayward in the Chargers’ opportunistic defensive secondary. He made the first two interceptions of his career along with 56 tackles and generally provided outstanding coverage.
“He’ll bounce back,” defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said of Williams. “Trevor is a great professional, and you know he’s going to do whatever he can to get right back on the field. We’re just going to wait on him and be patient.”
The Bolts have been forced to do that quite a bit during Mebane’s tenure. They lost a staggering number of man-games to injuries in San Diego during their final two seasons, which were also the worst two seasons of Philip Rivers’ 12-year tenure as their starting quarterback. Fans who followed the Chargers from San Diego to LA already know the Bolts went 5-11 in 2016 after losing Verrett, cornerback Brandon Flowers, linebacker Manti Te’o, receivers Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson and running back Danny Woodhead for extended periods.
Even after losing Verrett last week, the Chargers’ secondary is fairly well stocked. Desmond King played extensively as a rookie last season, primarily as a nickel back, while first-round pick Derwin James is expected to be an immediate contributor at safety alongside Addae, who started all 16 games last season.
“If Trevor’s ankle is bad, then I would be concerned about the depth there,” Lynn said. “But I’m also confident in those young guys behind him. They’re stepping up and making plays in practice, and there’s going to be a nice competition in that group.”