The Chargers' injury woes from last season haven't stopped. The injuries are continuing into the new year.
Williams, a receiver out of Clemson, was the seventh overall pick in this year's draft. But back issues have plagued him ever since draft day. Williams suffered a herniated disk in rookie minicamp and was ruled out for the team's OTAs. At the time, there were concerns that he'd miss the beginning of training camp. It turns out, there should've been concerns about his availability during the season.
"This may be a lot more serious than people thought," a source told Schefter.
From ESPN's report:
Williams recently received a second epidural on his herniated disk in a last-ditch effort to have him ready at some time during training camp, though the Chargers are preparing as if he will not be ready by that time, per sources.
The team still is hoping that Williams will respond positively to the second epidural, but also knows there's a real chance he will not and his rookie year will be over before it begins.
That sounds bleak. Still, there is some good news. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Williams is responding well to the current treatment.
Williams has resumed running this week, source says. He'll likely start camp on the PUP list. After that is TBD.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 19, 2017
Still, NFL.com reported that he's expected to begin training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport added that two sources told him surgery is not on the table right now because of Williams' response to the treatment.
Regardless of what happens, this is awful news for Williams and the Chargers, who simply can't catch a break when it comes to injuries. Last year, the Chargers were decimated by injuries, from Keenan Allen's torn ACL to Melvin Gordon's hip and knee injuries to Jason Verrett's partially torn ACL to Danny Woodhead's torn ACL -- I could go on.
There's also the issue of the origin of Williams' back issues. According to Schefter, the Chargers aren't sure when they began:
The Chargers remain uncertain about when Williams initially injured his back, but one source said it's possible it was injured at the combine and during his pro day, but he did a good enough job masking it so that teams would not know and his draft stock would not be impacted.
So no, the Chargers can't catch a break.
The Chargers haven't had a first round pick play 16 games as a rookie since Melvin Ingram in 2012. Now, Mike Williams might miss the season.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 19, 2017
Last year, Joey Bosa and the Chargers endured a lengthy contract standoff, which resulted in his absence from training camp, which may have led to a hamstring injury that he suffered on his first day of practice in late August. In 2015, Gordon appeared in 14 games, but was a massive disappointment (he rebounded well last year). In 2014, Verrett played in just six games. And in 2013, D.J. Fluker missed one game.
If the Chargers are without Williams during the season, they'll be missing someone who was supposed to make an immediate impact. At Clemson last year, Williams caught 98 passes for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's the kind of big-bodied receiver who doesn't need to be open to be considered open. He would've been a great addition to an offense that already features Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, and Melvin Gordon. Though the Chargers went 5-11 last season, they were considered a sleeper playoff team by many for 2017 due to their bad injury luck and inability to close out games last year.
Well, that luck doesn't appear to be improving. At receiver, the Chargers are now counting on Allen (coming off a torn ACL), Williams (may not be available), Travis Benjamin (better suited for a complimentary role), and Dontrelle Inman (also not a WR1).
Let's check in on Rivers: