NFL

Chargers backing Stick to shine after Herbert undergoes season-ending surgery

By Sports Desk December 13, 2023

Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley is expecting backup quarterback Easton Stick to prove his worth after Justin Herbert was ruled out for the season, describing the 28-year-old as a winner. 

The Chargers will play the rest of the season without their franchise quarterback after Herbert underwent surgery to repair a fracture to his right index finger on Tuesday.

Herbert sustained the injury during the first half of the Chargers' 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, with Stick coming in to throw 13-of-24 for 179 yards but no touchdowns.

Stick had only played two snaps in five seasons in the NFL before replacing Herbert, who has started 62 of the team's 63 games since being drafted sixth overall in 2020.

He will suit up for the 5-8 Chargers when they go on the road to face the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday, and Staley is backing his team to adapt.

"When you lose any player of that calibre, it's tough," Staley said on Tuesday. "But that's why you have a team, to be able to support that position and put a good plan together moving forward.

"One of the reasons why I was so excited to team up with [offensive coordinator] Kellen [Moore] was the work that he did with Cooper Rush. Dak Prescott went down and the Cowboys went on a really good run with Rush as their backup quarterback. 

"The way that they had to play with Rush was different than the way that they were playing with Dak, but that's what you have to do, you have to make adjustments. 

"Then, the rest of your team has to come alive and you have to play the game the way that it needs to be played in order to win. That's what we're going to try and do on Thursday."

Staley took plenty of positives from Stick's first meaningful taste of NFL action, adding: "I thought that there was a lot to build off from that last game. 

"I think the way he played in that second half does give us confidence going into this game. He is a winner. You look at his track record at North Dakota State, all he has ever done is win. 

"He knows how to run a team, lead a team. He has been great for our team since I've been here. We're excited for him.

"He's a commander out there. People believe in him because of how hard he works. Since I've been here, him and Justin have set a very high bar for everybody else, in terms of how to work.

"I think he has gotten better every single year and I think that his team-mates have seen that. He has improved every year as a quarterback. Now, he gets to show what he can do."

Herbert finishes his season with a 93.2 QB rating – the same as he registered in 2022 – but his average passing yards per game dropped from 278.8 – the third-best in the NFL last season – to 241.1, putting him 13th.

Related items

  • Edge rusher Hendrickson reportedly requests trade from Bengals Edge rusher Hendrickson reportedly requests trade from Bengals

    A day before the NFL draft, one of the league's best edge rushers has requested a trade.

    Three-time Pro Bowler Trey Hendrickson has asked to be traded from the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

    Hendrickson, who is set to make $14.8million this season and $15.8million in 2025, is reportedly seeking a long-term deal - something that hasn't been worked out with the Bengals.

    His request to be traded comes at an intriguing time with the draft set for Thursday, as another team could be looking to make a deal with Cincinnati for the established pass rusher.

    The 29-year-old is coming off a career year, registering a personal-high 17 1/2 sacks to tie with Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen for the second most in the league.

    Hendrickson's 16 tackles for loss were tied for 10th in 2023, and his 53 sacks since the start of the 2020 season rank third behind T.J. Watt (62) and Myles Garrett (58).

    A third-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2017, Hendrickson signed with the Bengals in 2021, and has been named a Pro Bowler in each of his three seasons in Cincinnati.

     

    Hendrickson's request for a trade comes a little more than a month after wide receiver Tee Higgins asked to be traded.

    Higgins, who had the franchise tag placed on him by the Bengals on February 26, did say earlier this month, however, that he intends to play for Cincinnati in 2024.

    Fellow Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase had the fifth-year option on his rookie contract picked up on Wednesday.

    Chase, the 2021 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, has 268 receptions for 3,717 yards and 29 touchdowns in his first three seasons - the team leader in each category since 2021.

  • Detroit Lions WR St. Brown gets $120M extension Detroit Lions WR St. Brown gets $120M extension

    The Detroit Lions have locked up one of their most important players for the foreseeable future by agreeing to a reported four-year, $120 million extension with wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

    St. Brown, who was entering the final season of his rookie contract, confirmed the news Wednesday with a video message on his Instagram account.

    "I can't wait. I'm here, four more years!," St. Brown announced. 

    One of the NFL's most productive receivers since entering the league as a fourth-round draft pick of the Lions in 2021, St. Brown will now be among the highest-paid players at his position. NFL.com reports the contract, which runs through 2028, includes $77 million in guaranteed money for the largest sum ever for a wide receiver.

    The deal's $30 million average annual value is tied for the highest among wide receivers, matching the four-year, $120 million extension Tyreek Hill received from the Miami Dolphins in 2022. 

    St. Brown earned first team All-Pro honours with a brilliant 2023 campaign in which he finished in the NFL's top three in receptions (119) and receiving yards (1,515) and recorded a career-high 10 touchdown catches in 16 games.

    The 24-year-old added 22 catches for 274 yards and a touchdown in three post-season games to help the NFC North champion Lions advance to the conference title game for the first time since 1991.

    St. Brown's 315 career receptions are the third-most by any player in NFL history through his first three seasons, eclipsed only by Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson's 324 from 2020-22 and Michael Thomas' 321 with the New Orleans Saints from 2016-18. 

    The two-time Pro Bowler is also one of just three receivers in league history with 90 or more catches through his first three seasons, joining Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. (2014-16).

     

  • Broncos reportedly trade for Jets QB Wilson Broncos reportedly trade for Jets QB Wilson

    Zach Wilson has a chance to restart his career in a new setting after the Denver Broncos reportedly traded for the former starting quarterback from the New York Jets on Monday, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

    The Broncos are also acquiring a seventh-round pick in this year's NFL draft, and the Jets will receive a sixth-rounder.

    New York will also pay part of Wilson's $5.5million salary next season.

    Wilson arrives in Denver after never living up to expectations with the Jets after the franchise selected him second overall in the 2021 draft.

     

    He went 3-10 as a rookie in 2021, and things didn't improve in 2022, leading to his benching.

    The Jets had seen enough and decided to move on from Wilson, trading for Aaron Rodgers prior to the 2023 season. Wilson, though, got another chance to start after Rodgers tore his Achilles on his first drive with New York in the season opener.

    He was unable to take advantage of that opportunity, however, throwing for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in 12 games in 2023. His 77.2 passer rating ranked 30th out of 32 qualifying QBs last season.

    In 34 career games, he has completed 57.0 per cent of his passes for 6,293 yards with 23 TDs and 25 picks.

    Among the 30 quarterbacks with a minimum of 700 pass attempts since 2021, Wilson ranks last in completion percentage and QB rating (73.2), and 29th in both touchdown passes and yards per attempt (6.34).

    In Denver, he'll likely get a chance to compete for the starting QB job after the Broncos released Russell Wilson in early March.

    The only other quarterbacks on Denver's roster are Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci, but the team could also decide to select one in Thursday's draft.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.