If you were surprised to see rookie quarterback Justin Herbert get the start for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2, you weren't alone. There was zero indication the incumbent QB1, Tyrod Taylor, would miss the team's contest against the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, and he wasn't simply missing from the field -- he wasn't on the sidelines either. Taylor was taken to the hospital on Sunday after having been listed on Friday's injury report with a rib injury, but it's not the injury itself that caused his abrupt turn for the worse.
The issue is the Chargers team doctor reportedly punctured Taylor's lung while trying to administer a pain-killing injection to help him play through the aforementioned rib injury, per Adam Schefter of ESPN, forcing him to require immediate medical attention. Taylor was released later that day, and his status for Week 3 and beyond remains in limbo, as he's been advised to sit indefinitely while he completely heals from the puncture. That doesn't necessarily mean he's done for the season, but instead the team will play it by ear, but Herbert will again get the start in Week 3 -- per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
This is a tragic misstep by the Chargers medical staff, and it's yet unclear what the ramifications will be off the field, particularly given the fact Taylor's job as starter is now in very real jeopardy. Herbert performed well in the Chargers loss to the Chiefs, and while head coach Anthony Lynn insists Taylor is still QB1 when ready, that's far from written in stone. And the more time Taylor misses, assuming Herbert continues to play well, the less likely it is that proclamation will hold true. The medical mishap opens up the Chargers to a formal grievance and/or legal proceedings, should Taylor decide to press the issue going forward.
The NFLPA has launched a probe into the matter.
As for the accident itself, medical experts reportedly view the chances of a punctured lung in the procedure a known risk, per Sam Famer of The Los Angeles Times, who also notes the traditional recommendation following such an incident is no strenuous activity for 4-6 weeks. Chronologically speaking, assuming Taylor receives such advice and he's able to return in that timeframe, he'd be available for the Chargers as somewhere between late October and early November, which might also run up against the team's bye in Week 10. As this is a developing story, however, any reported timeline at the moment is completely fluid and subject to change as more details come to light.
Taylor was signed to a two-year, $11 million contract in 2019 to play backup to Philip Rivers, who is now departed and joined forces with the Indianapolis Colts. Despite having named Taylor starter for Week 1 earlier in the offseason, the Chargers made the added move of using the sixth-overall pick on Herbert, leading many to wonder if the future of the franchise would immediately be tossed the keys in 2020. It was not to be, however, at least not for Week 1, but the mistake by the Chargers team doctor awarded Herbert the job last week.
And now, with Taylor also in the final year of his contract and working to recover from lung punctured by his own team physician, it's unclear if the veteran will ever get his job back.