Los Angeles Chargers wideout Keenan Allen was initially listed as questionable to return after suffering a hamstring injury against the Las Vegas Raiders, but the veteran was downgraded to “out” after halftime, which could signal a long-term issue.
Keenan Allen out with hamstring issue
It’s not a great sign that Allen was ruled out after halftime, as LA’s training staff may have gotten a better look at his health issue during the break. It’s too early to speculate, but Allen could be dealing with a multi-week injury.
If that’s the case, Allen would miss the Chargers’ critical Thursday night matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. That game figures to contain a lot of fireworks, and the winner could be in the driver’s seat — as much as any team can be this early in the season — in the AFC West.
Luckily, LA’s schedule gets quite a bit easier after the Kansas City game. The Chargers have dates with the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Seattle Seahawks before a Week 8 bye. Denver is the only contender among that grouping.
Allen, 30, had a bevy of injury issues early in his career, but he’s been pretty durable recently. The former third-round pick has been incredibly consistent over the past five years, posting at least 97 receptions, 990 yards, and six touchdowns each season since 2017.
How the Los Angeles Chargers can replace Allen
If Allen is sidelined, Mike Williams — previously the Chargers’ 1B to Allen’s 1A — will become Justin Herbert’s clear top wideout. He should dominate targets and receptions for as long as Allen is out, but Los Angeles will need more options.
The most obvious candidate to step up is Joshua Palmer, a 2021 third-round selection out of Tennessee. Palmer, who posted a 33-353-4 line in his debut campaign, has the size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) to play outside, but he could also be a direct replacement for Allen in the slot.
DeAndre Carter received a lot of buzz during the summer, and he caught a second-quarter TD against the Raiders. He might have a role to play, but it’s fair to remember that Carter is a 29-year-old journeyman who has spent most of his career on special teams.
If the Chargers want to keep running 11 personnel, the most likely combination might be Williams, Palmer, and Jalen Guyton. Williams and Palmer are big-bodied possession receivers, but Guyton could add a speed element to LA’s attack. He’s averaged 16.3 yards per reception over three seasons with the Bolts.
Alternatively, the Chargers could spend a lot of time in 12 personnel, something they did on 26% of their snaps in 2021 (the sixth-highest rate in the NFL). No. 2 tight end Donald Parham missed today’s game with a lingering hamstring injury. If he continues to be sidelined, LA would have to be comfortable using Tre’ McKitty alongside starting TE Gerald Everett.