Chargers’ WR Williams demoted with broken back

Mike Williams will miss the Los Angeles Chargers wild card game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a broken lower back.

The sixth-year wide receiver was demoted Friday after further tests showed the small fracture. The Chargers said the fracture did not show up in early testing.

Williams will not be traveling with the team and will remain in Los Angeles to continue receiving treatment.

Williams hasn’t practiced all week after suffering an injury late in the first half of last Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the Denver Broncos. Coach Brandon Staley said earlier in the week he believed Williams would be on the training ground at some point and the injury did not appear to be serious.

Williams’ injury will increase the pressure on Staley, who played his starters a lot against the Broncos in a regular-season finale with no stakes.

The Chargers (10-7) finished the fifth seed when Baltimore lost to Cincinnati earlier in the day.

On Thursday, Staley reiterated that he supports the decision.

“It’s very difficult to decide who plays and who doesn’t and who is more valuable than the others,” he said. “What you’re trying to do is set a standard for your program on how you do things. That’s what I believe in. I didn’t want anyone getting injured in this game, regardless of their status, because everyone is important.

Williams has dealt with back issues throughout her career. He missed the first five games of his rookie season in 2017 with a back injury.

Williams has been out four games this season with an ankle injury. He had 63 receptions for 895 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games.

The Chargers are the first team in NFL history to have six players with 500 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns, mostly due to injuries to their wide receiver group.

Keenan Allen missed seven games with a hamstring injury, while DeAndre Carter was the only wide receiver to play in all 17 games. Austin Ekeler set a team record with 107 receptions, the third in NFL history by a running back in a season.

Joshua Palmer, who is second on the team in receptions (72) and yards (769), will start in place of Williams.

“He’s such a productive player and a big part of what we do, but we’ve had to struggle without him for a few games already this season,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said of Williams. “Josh Palmer does a good job stepping up when he’s out. If Mike doesn’t go, then the other guys will step in. We’ll do our best to make it work.”


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