March 2, 2024

The Chargers’ most important right hand belongs to Justin Herbert, who, nevertheless, fielded several questions Thursday about his left hand.

Specifically, the quarterback was quizzed about his left middle finger, which was fractured Oct. 1 in a victory over Las Vegas.

The injury didn’t prevent Herbert from finishing the game against the Raiders without missing a snap and, he said, shouldn’t impact his play moving forward, starting with Monday night against Dallas.

“I think there’s so much going on during the game,” Herbert said when asked about the possibility of having to adjust his approach, “that you’re probably not going to be worrying about it too much.”

The Chargers were off last weekend, allowing Herbert extra time to heal. He has practiced twice this week with a glove on his left hand and said he anticipates wearing one Monday.

 Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) plays with a splint on his left middle finger against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) plays with a splint on his left middle finger late in the game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

But, unlike the fractured rib cartilage that affected Herbert early last season, this injury is one that figures to be easier to navigate. Still, he’ll face the snap-to-snap reality of having to protect himself a bit more.

“He’s a player out there, and he is going to do what is best for himself,” coach Brandon Staley said. “He is going to continue to be aggressive. It’s a much different injury than the one that he had last year.”

One potential issue could be Herbert’s ability to take a snap from under center, something he said he hasn’t done yet in practice and might not do — as a precaution — in advance of the game Monday.

“I think that’s one of those things that you don’t really want to put your hand in danger,” he said. “It’s something that we’ll probably approach later in the week.”

Herbert did say the Chargers’ plan against the Cowboys includes plays with him being under center, meaning the team does appear to be preparing in typical fashion.

In college at Oregon, Herbert operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun formation. Any limitations on him being under center Monday likely would be felt most in short-yardage situations.

As for scrambling against Dallas — a team that features two standout edge rushers in Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence — Herbert said he doesn’t expect any problems.

“I think you’re just going to be worried about not getting tackled or not taking those hits,” he said. “It’s about being safe and getting down that’s in the back of your mind.”

Coach cornered

Thursday was the first day Staley was available to the media since the Chargers traded cornerback J.C. Jackson to New England last week.

Staley called the deal “the best course for our team” and said the decision to deal Jackson was based on “a body of work to go off of — two years’ worth of a body of work.”

In March 2022, the Chargers signed Jackson to a five-year contract that guaranteed him $40 million. His time with the team was marred by injuries and inconsistent play. He was benched once and inactive for another game.

The Chargers will end up paying Jackson about $38.5 million for seven games, one interception and 15 tackles.

With Jackson gone, the Chargers will go with Michael Davis and Asante Samuel Jr. on the outside and Ja’Sir Taylor at slot corner.

“We believe in that group,” Staley said. “That group is where we’ve played our best football as a team since we’ve been here. We have full trust in those guys. Those guys have played really well together. Now, they get to play together full-time.”

Injury report

Star edge rusher Joey Bosa (toe) and starting safety Alohi Gilman (heel) did not practice Thursday. Both missed the Chargers’ Week 4 win over the Raiders. … Safety Derwin James Jr. (hamstring) and running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) returned to practice in full. … Tight end Donald Parham Jr. (wrist) and cornerback/special teamer Deane Leonard (hamstring) were limited.

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