Chargers lose DT Austin Johnson for the season

Chargers coach Brandon Staley announced Monday afternoon that defensive tackle Austin Johnson is out for the season with a fractured knee and an MCL injury.

Johnson suffered the injury around the end of the third quarter of their 20-17 victory over Atlanta. He couldn’t walk off the field without help, and the Chargers learned his fate on Monday.

“I’m disappointed because Austin has been fantastic since he’s gotten here,” Staley said. “We love coaching him, but this is part of the NFL.”

Johnson signed a two-year deal worth $14 million in the offense. He made 22 tackles, a sack, three quarterback hits and a pass breakup in eight games.

He is the tenth player to be added to IR, plus the five injured players the Chargers didn’t have suit up on Sunday. He is the fourth starter to head to IR joining edge rusher Joey Bosa, cornerback J.C Jackson and left tackle Rashawn Slater.

The five players are receiver Keenan Allen, kicker Dustin Hopkins, receiver Mike Williams, edge rusher Chris Rumph, and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. Williams is the only one that Staley called week-to-week but said “progressing well.” Every other player is day-to-day.

Staley said he would have more information on Wednesday about them and who will replace Johnson.

“We’re going to work through that over the next 36 hours and get out there on the practice field,” Staley said on who will replace Johnson. “You’ll probably have a better idea of it then.”

The replacement could be Christian Covington or rookie Otito Ogbonnia. Both have been serviceable to the defensive line. They also have Breiden Fehoko on the practice squad.

The Chargers also didn’t have right tackle Trey Pipkins return on Sunday. Staley said he re-aggravated his MCL injury and called the right tackle day-to-day. He could play Sunday against the 49ers.

Even with all the injuries, the Chargers sit at 5-3, one game behind the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs, 6-2. They currently sit as the seventh seed in the AFC. They will try to hold on as they try to get players healthy.

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