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Los Angeles Chargers

Rocky start for Jason Verrett has Chargers pressing pause

Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett runs after an interception during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The return of Jason Verrett was supposed to be a big boost for the Los Angeles Chargers‘ defense, but the former first-round pick is being put on pause after soreness cropped up in his surgically repaired left knee.

Verrett was essentially a full go in Monday’s season-opening 24-21 loss in Denver, playing in 63 of a potential 69 defensive snaps, but first-year coach Anthony Lynn sensed something wasn’t right after watching the film.

“He’s not moving the way he’s moved in the past,” Lynn assessed. “He’s just not right. He’s such a competitor, he wants to be on the field, but we have to protect him from himself. I know the way Jason likes to play the game, and right now, he can’t play it that way.”

So, back to limbo for the former Pro Bowl cornerback whose 2016 season was cut short after suffering a partial tear of his ACL in Week 4. Reconstructive surgery followed, as did an offseason of rehab.

Monday was Verrett’s first time back in a live environment since the injury, unless you count a Week 3 preseason cameo against the Rams which produced just a handful of snaps.

In other words, Verrett took it from zero to 60 the minute he got away from the shop and hit the open road.

Things can go wrong in that type of circumstance. Now Verrett will miss the Chargers’ regular season debut at the StubHub Center against the Miami Dolphins… and potentially far more time than that.

Verrett, 26, was not able to practice on Thursday or Friday and was sent for a precautionary MRI; the results are being kept tight by the Chargers.

Follow the breadcrumbs and understand this: The current injured reserve rules permit a team to return two players from the list as long as they originally made the 53-man roster and have sat out at least eight weeks.

Lynn dubbed Verrett’s status as “week to week,” but no IR move was made after the MRI, indicating the Chargers are hopeful this won’t linger close to a two-month period.

Or, if you’re a pessimist, the Chargers are waiting for the medical staff to get more information and everything remains on the table, including another season-ending scenario.

Lynn’s uncertainty pointed to the latter.

“We’ll always have a plan for that,” Lynn answered when asked if Verrett could be shut down for the season, “but if he can make it back, that would certainly help. He’s done everything possible to get back, to be 100 percent, but right now, we’re just not liking what we see, so we’re gonna rest him.”

For now, second-year player Trevor Williams, typically the team’s nickel back, is expected to fill in for Verrett to see if a few extra weeks enable the latter to become more confident in his knee. Rookie fifth-round pick Desmond King will also likely gain an increased role. Michael Davis is expected to be promoted from the practice squad before Sunday’s game.

As usual in the NFL, a noticeable problem plays into an upcoming opponent’s strength. The Dolphins will bring one of the most talented receiving trios in football out West: Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills.

— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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