Los Angeles Chargers first-round pick Mike Williams has suffered a herniated disc in his back.
Williams was placed on the physically unable to perform list, the Chargers announced Saturday. Two of Williams’ teammates, cornerback Jason Verrett and safety Darrell Stuckey were also placed on the PUP.
Per a news release from the team provided by Schefter, Williams “saw [Chargers] doctors yesterday and will continue to progress on Dr. Robert Wilkins’ plan. He will rehab and strengthen his back and is not expected to practice during training camp.”
Recently, he responded well to an epidural shot, which left general manager Tom Telesco optimistic that Williams could avoid surgery.
However, head coach Anthony Lynn still isn’t sure if Williams will see the field at all in 2017.
“I’m hopeful that it’s not [season ending], but who knows?” Lynn said. “It could be. I don’t know. You’d like to have him out [there], but fortunately we have depth at that position and we’re going to be OK.”
Obviously losing a massive target and a first-round pick is difficult to stomach. By design, Williams was going to take pressure off Philip Rivers’ typically over-worked targets and bolster the team’s presence inside the 20-yard line. But instead of panicking, Lynn is doing his best to turn the situation into a motivator for the healthier players on the roster.
Should Williams miss the 2017 season, the real test of Lynn’s ability will be how he balances the oversight of his roster with some behind the scenes motivation to keep Williams engaged. There is nothing more difficult for a player than wanting to contribute but being unable to.
Williams was the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft and was expected to pair with Keenan Allen in the starting lineup. But a lower-back disc herniation has left Williams’ status unclear, and the rookie may yet require back surgery.