David Chao, MD: Expect Justin Herbert To Start ‘Indefinitely’ For Chargers

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Anthony Lynn, head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, appeared to be sticking by Tyrod Taylor as his No. 1 QB despite a 300-yard passing performance by Justin Herbert, the rookie No. 6 overall pick who played the defending Super Bowl Champion Chiefs into overtime in his first start. 

However, it is now clear Herbert will be the Week 3 starter as they host the Panthers and beyond.

Lynn proclaimed:  “If Tyrod is 100%, he’s our quarterback.” Medically, there is no way for Taylor to be 100% healthy for this coming Sunday.

It got worse.

I detailed my hypothesis Monday morning that Taylor’s sudden change after pregame warmup from starter to headed to the hospital with chest pain was related to a pregame intercostal nerve block to relieve pain from a rib injury. That theory was confirmed by NFL Network shortly after my thoughts were posted.  A known complication from rib block is a pneumothorax since the nerve to be numbed lays deep to the ribs and right next to the outer lining of the lungs.

Taylor is fine and was discharged from the hospital the same day, meaning any “collapsed lung” issue was partial and minor and no chest tube was needed to re-inflate his lung. There is no worry for him long term or going forward and he will certainly fully recover, just not in time to be 100% for this coming week’s game.

Taylor will feel good and could even practice this week but taking a hit in the chest seven days after this incident puts him at higher risk of recurrence. Also, let’s not forget the rib injury that necessitated the block in the first place will not be fully healed. Thus it is safe to say he won’t get the call to start.

Interpreting Lynn’s words precisely, the coach is telling us that Herbert is his starter for this week. Beyond that, who knows? It may depend on if Herbert can play well again in his second start.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. What’s your estimate as to how long Taylor will be out? From the article I get that it’s somewhere between one week and indefinitely, but could we narrow it down a bit, Doc? My (fantasy) team owner is all over me to figure this out, you know how that goes.

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