February 28, 2024

Faced with a quick turnaround, it seems unlikely that the Chargers will have quarterback Justin Herbert on Thursday when they play at Las Vegas.

Speaking to reporters Monday, coach Brandon Staley offered no timetable for Herbert’s return and didn’t rule him out for the game against the Raiders.

But, logically speaking, playing only four days after fracturing the index finger on his throwing hand would be difficult.

“There’s a lot of information that we’re gathering right now,” Staley said. “He’s as tough as they come. But we’re going to make sure — whatever it is — we’ll do what’s best for Justin long term.”

Staley said Herbert saw one hand specialist Monday morning and was scheduled to see another in the afternoon before any determination would be made regarding his immediate future.

If Herbert is unavailable, Easton Stick would move into the starting lineup and rookie Max Duggan would take over the backup role.

Herbert was injured during the second quarter of the Chargers’ 24-7 loss Sunday to Denver. Stick finished the game and led the offense to its only points of the day early in the fourth quarter.

In his fourth season, Herbert signed a five-year extension worth up to $262.5 million before the start of training camp. He has set numerous franchise and league records while establishing himself as one of the NFL’s best.

Now dealing with an injury to what is literally his trigger finger, Herbert is looking at trying to come back for a team that is 5-8 and all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Staley, whose own future with the team is in doubt, emphasized that the Chargers will do what’s in Herbert’s best interests.

“All of our focus has got to be on his future,” Staley said. “Certainly, there’s nothing more important than that, than his right hand. He’s 25 years old. He’s got a really, really bright future in front of him. Every decision we make is going to be with that in mind.”

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