The 2023 playing season for Justin Herbert, the esteemed quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers, has prematurely reached its conclusion. The team publicly announced on Tuesday that Herbert, an admired Pro Bowl player, will be side-lined, set to have surgery on his right throwing hand. The treatment aims to fix a fractured index finger, which has resulted in his move to the injured reserve list.
Herbert suffered the finger fracture during the Chargers’ clash with the Denver Broncos, a game which concluded in a disappointing 24-7 loss for the Chargers. The injury transpired in the second quarter of the match when Herbert took a hit from Zach Allen, a formidable player from Denver’s defense frontline, after completing a pass to his teammate, the tight end for Los Angeles, Donald Parham.
Post receiving the hit, Herbert was seen examining his right hand with concern. Shortly afterward, he made an abrupt exit to the locker room, leaving the rest of the game in the hands of Easton Stick. In Herbert’s absence, Stick displayed a commendable performance going 13-for-24 and covering a distance of 179 yards.
Stick’s participation in the game marked his first since he appeared in Week 7 of the 2020 season. He had been picked in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft and this time he was called upon to replace Herbert, who managed 9-for-17 passing and covered 96 yards, but suffered an interception before his unfortunate exit from the match.
During a postgame interaction on Sunday, Herbert voiced his disappointment. With his finger in a splint, he remarked, ‘It’s obviously tough, it feels like letting the team down. I would never like to be taken out of a game prematurely. We’ll know more about the injury as the week progresses. Should there be an opportunity to join back, I’ll do my utmost to return.’
Adding to the subject of his injury, Herbert confessed his uncertainty regarding how the incident occurred, saying he ‘couldn’t recollect whether it was a collision with a helmet or maybe someone’s shoulder pads.’ This unfortunate event denotes the first occasion in Herbert’s illustrious career that he will be absent from a game owing to physical injury.
In his career so far, Herbert, who was the 6th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, has participated in 62 consecutive regular-season matches. He began his journey in the professional football landscape in the second week of the 2020 season. So, such a hindrance, an aftermath of an in-game injury, is indeed a new challenge for this up-and-coming star.
On Monday, Brandon Staley—the head coach of the Chargers—articulated the team’s commitment to Herbert’s wellbeing. He assured everyone that the team’s top priority is to do ‘whatever’s best for Justin long-term.’ His comment came at a time when talks are ongoing about his own long-term career with the Chargers.
With a record of 5-8, the Chargers are required to regroup and move ahead with Stick as their lead quarterback. Their upcoming battle is against the Raiders who also possess an identical 5-8 record. The upcoming duel in Las Vegas this Thursday is crucial for both teams as they jostle for a wild-card spot in the fiercely-competitive AFC playoff race.
In a separate post, the Chargers extended their message of solidarity with Herbert, their sidelined number 10, and wished him a swift convalescence. ‘Love you, 10,’ the Chargers’ social media post read. ‘Here’s to a speedy recovery.’
Despite the toll of the injury, Herbert’s 2023 campaign concludes with some notable statistics. Over the span of 13 games, he notched up 3,134 yards, achieved 20 touchdowns, threw seven interceptions, and maintained a 65.1 completion percentage. Notwithstanding the untimely end, Herbert’s season has been impressive, consolidating his reputation as a key player in the NFL.
Interestingly, Herbert has had a brush with a similar injury earlier this season. He fractured the middle finger of his left hand during a game against the Las Vegas Raiders in October. Yet, he displayed a commendable sense of grit and determination in continuing to play without taking time off for rehabilitation.
Herbert, recognized for his competitiveness and resilience, inked a five-year contract extension during the offseason. The deal, worth an astounding $252.5 million, stands as a testament to the Chargers’ high regard for Herbert and their long-term vision for him in the team.