COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Mike Williams’ status for the Los Angeles Chargers’ AFC wild-card round game against the Jacksonville Jaguars will be a game-time decision.
Williams was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report Thursday. He did not practice all week after suffering a lower back contusion late in the first half of last Sunday’s 31-28 loss at the Denver Broncos.
“He’s making progress in getting treatment,” coach Brandon Staley said. “We’re just trying to get him as much rest as possible for Saturday. We’re hoping that he can make it to the game.”
Williams had one reception — a 15-yard touchdown — in the Chargers’ 38-10 loss to the Jaguars on Sept. 25. He has six catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns in four games against Jacksonville.
Staley said earlier in the week that he thought Williams would be on the practice field at some point and that the injury didn’t appear serious.
The second-year coach clarified that Thursday by saying he was inferring that there wasn’t a fracture or X-rays that returned positive.
While Staley would like to focus on Saturday, he was asked again if he would not have played or pulled his starters earlier against the Broncos since nothing was at stake
The Chargers (10-7) wrapped up the fifth seed when Baltimore lost to Cincinnati earlier in the day.
Staley reiterated that he stood behind the decisions he made.
“It’s very difficult to decide who plays and who doesn’t and who is more valuable than the rest,” he said. “What you are trying to do is set a standard for your program about how you do things. That is what I believe in. I didn’t want anybody to get hurt in that game, regardless of their status, because everybody is important.”
He later added that he would still be comfortable with the sixth-year receiver playing if he didn’t have any practice snaps.
“I’ve been with Mike for two full years, and I’ve also been with him through some injuries,” Staley said. “There’s a long time between now and game day. So, we’re just going to try and take advantage of all that time.
“Mike is as tough as they come in. If he can play, I know we will.”
Williams has dealt with back issues throughout his career. He missed the first five games of his rookie season in 2017 because of a back injury.
Williams was sidelined for four games earlier this season because of 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, mainly because of injuries to their wide receiver group.
Keenan Allen missed seven games because of a hamstring injury, while DeAndre Carter was the only wide receiver to play all 17 games. Austin Ekeler set a team record with 107 receptions, the third most in NFL history by a running back in a season.
“He is such a productive player and a big part of what we do, but we have had to battle it out without him a few games already this season,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said of Williams. “Josh Palmer does a good job of stepping up when he has been out. If Mike is not going, then the other guys will step up. We’ll do our best to make it work.”