According to Chargers’ beat writer Kevin Acee, left tackle Jared Gaither is not expected to play in the Chargers’ preseason finale this week and the Chargers are preparing to play week 1 without him. Gaither has been suffering from back spasms and missed all of the preseason and Training Camp, very bad news for him because he missed essentially a year and a half with back problems from 2010-2011. Back spasms can often be lingering injuries so Gaither is a candidate to miss even more than 1 game with his history.
When healthy, Gaither is an elite left tackle. With the Ravens, in 2009, he allowed just 4 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and 6 quarterback pressures, while committing 10 penalties in 13 games and in 2008, he allowed just 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and 22 quarterback pressures, while committing 15 penalties in 19 games. Gaither was amazing in 5 starts last season for the Chargers, after being cut midseason by the Chiefs. He didn’t allow a sack or quarterback hit and only allowed 3 quarterback pressures, while committing just 3 penalties.
The Chargers rewarded him with a 4 year, 24.6 million dollar deal with 13.5 million guaranteed this offseason. That may seem like a lot to pay, but franchise left tackles do not grow on trees. There’s a reason they’re never available on the open market. Seeing one available is almost as rare as seeing a franchise quarterback on the open market.
If Gaither were to stay healthy, that deal would have been a steal. However, now it’s looking like that could very well not happen. The Chargers did not give themselves a very good security policy as undrafted rookie Mike Harris has been working on the blindside in practice in Gaither’s absence. He’ll almost definitely struggle in that role this season.
He figures to be one of three big holes on the Chargers’ offensive line. Left guard Tyronne Green will take over full-time for the retired Kris Dielman. Green struggled in limited action last year in place of Dielman. He rated 61st out of 76 guards on ProFootballFocus despite only really playing half the season. Right tackle Jeromey Clary has been awful for years. He was horrific last season, allowing 7 sacks, 7 quarterback hits, 42 quarterback pressures, and committing 11 penalties, while struggling as a run blocker. He was ProFootballFocus’ 71st rated offensive tackle out of 73. Right guard Louis Vasquez and center Nick Hardwick are solid starters, but Philip Rivers will be under pressure a lot this year.
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