Los Angeles Chargers Star Rashawn Slater Struggled Last Season Due To A Nasty Injury

Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater earned second-team All-Pro honors and made the Pro Bowl in his first NFL season. In the two years since, the former first-round pick hasn’t been the same player and we now know why.

Slater was one of the best left tackles in the NFL as a rookie in 2021, with Pro Football Focus crediting him with only 3 sacks allowed in 762 pass-blocking snaps. Hoping to build off that success the following year, Slater sluter a season-ending ruptured biceps tendon in Week 3 of the 2022 season.

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The injury was a devastating setback for the Chargers, resulting in offensive regression and leading to significant problems in pass protection. However, Slater fully recovered in time for the 2023 NFL season and the hope was that he would keep playing at an All-Pro level.

While Slater played in all 17 games last season, he was not as effective as a blocker. The 6-foot-4 offensive tackle didn’t even crack the top 20 at his position in ESPN pass-block win rate and he graded much worse as a run defender in 2023 (59.5) compared to 2021 (80.2). We now know why that happened.

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Rashawn Slater stats

GamesSnapsPFF Grade

According to Duke Manyweather, who trains offensive linemen with OL Masterminds, Slater played through a double-high ankle sprain for the entire 2023 season.

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Of the two ankle sprains, a high ankle sprain is much worse and comes with a longer timetable for a player to fully recover. Often, a player dealing with a standard high ankle sprain will miss multiple games. In Slater’s case, he played with a double high ankle sprain.

The injury perfectly explains why Slater didn’t play at an All-Pro level last season. While it does raise questions about why the previous Chargers’ regime allowed him to keep playing when the team was eliminated from the playoffs, the important thing for Jim Harbaugh and his staff is that Slater will be healthy for the 2024 season.