Mike Williams Injury: Out With Season-Ending ACL Tear. How Do The Chargers Rebound?

Mike Williams is out for the season. What's next for the Chargers?

Yesterday’s first “W” of the season against the Minnesota Vikings came with a tragedy. It was reported today that wide receiver Mike Williams is out for the season with a torn ACL. 

Los Angeles Chargers Hang On Against Vikings For First Win Of Season

Mike Williams Injury Details

During the Chargers third drive of the third quarter, on a 1st and 18, Justin Herbert completed a pass to Williams who proceeded to run to the 42. He was tackled by defensive lineman Harrison Phillips, who initially grabbed him at the waist, but his hands slid down to around his knee as they fell, entangled with one another as they rolled around. After the hit, Williams stayed on the ground and had to be helped off the field. He had an MRI today that confirmed the diagnosis. A season-ending ACL tear

Williams Season Before the Injury

Every time I say “there’s 2021 Mike Williams” something happens, so I should stop saying that. But he has looked like THAT Mike Williams throughout the start of this season and training camp. He tied Keenan Allen with eight receptions against the Titans last week.

This past game, he was on fire. He had seven receptions for a total of 121 receiving yards, along with a receiving touchdown. The touchdown marked his longest reception of the season and was the result of a 49-yard pass from Allen.

After missing multiple games in 2022 with a high ankle sprain, and then missing the Wild Card game with a back contusion due to playing in a pointless Week 18 matchup, he finally looked healthy, which makes this injury all the more devastating. 

During Day 7 of Chargers training camp, Williams remarked how he was playing in the middle more. That position in years past had been reserved for Allen. As Daniel Popper of The Athletic reported, “…Williams will almost always have a size advantage on the interior. That could force opposing defenses to allocate more resources to Williams in certain situations, giving Allen more one-on-one looks on the outside.”

Williams had been playing more snaps out wide (80) this season but had also played a fair amount in the slot (32) through the first three games. Allen meanwhile has continued playing the majority in the slot (90) but has been playing a fair amount on the outside (48).

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Tennessee Titans
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What Now?

Thank goodness the Chargers still have Allen, as that’s always a steadying presence.

Quentin Johnston could be the solution. He’s played the majority of his snaps on the outside but perhaps the Chargers could move him more into the slot and use him like they were going to Williams. He’s often been compared to Williams due to his size and ability to grab contested catches, so maybe now hopefully he can live up to that hype. 

Josh Palmer will most likely see more playing time, which is something he’s used to, considering he held up the receiving core last year with the injuries to Williams and Allen for multiple games. Palmer already has a receiving touchdown on the year along with several receptions and looked great during training camp.

Derius Davis, who has done the majority of his work as a return specialist, may also see an increase in wide receiver duties, and with his speed, he’ll be an asset. 

We also can’t forget about the tight ends. Donald Parham was also on fire yesterday with two receiving touchdowns while Gerald Everett has been scrappy and reliable. I would expect even more production to come out of those two as the games go on.

And there’s always some of the practice squad players, like Keelan Doss who can be elevated, who played well during the preseason. And we can’t forget about Jalen Guyton who’s still on the physically unable to perform list. But he will presumably return at some point this season

Unlike last year when both Allen and Williams went down with injuries and Parham was in and out of games, the Chargers have more depth just for this scenario. Though it’s a sad way to start the season, there’s no reason to hit the panic button quite yet.