Gaither in much worse shape then first thought-will miss at least another week possibly much more
OAKLAND — The season began without Jared Gaither, and it will go on with or without him.
The Chargers’ very expensive starting left tackle will miss Monday’s season opener against the Oakland Raiders. And indications from inside the organization are that his back malady will keep him out of at least next week’s home against the Tennessee Titans.
Gaither has had two MRIs to try to determine his precise injury, and sources said both have come back negative and further testing is scheduled.
The team has not ruled out that Gaither could miss the entire season and remains in the market for a reserve tackle.
“With Jared hurt and an unknown timetable for his return, yes, we are still thinking about adding an offensive tackle,” General Manager A.J. Smith said. “When we find the right guy, we will consider a move. The game doesn’t wait for your front line guys to get healthy. This season is now on the fast track.”
The Chargers will have competition in signing the best available tackles, especially after the St. Louis Rams lost their starting left tackle indefinitely to a strained neck and the Pittsburgh Steelers starting right tackle suffered a hyperextended left knee and could miss time.
A savior is likely not on the horizon and the Chargers’ plan is to go with rookie Michael Harris, who made his debut on Monday.
“You build your team in the offseason and adjust in-season,” Smith said. “Now is time to win with whoever is wearing a Chargers uniform. Our opponents don’t care about our problems, and I really don’t care about theirs. Living with injuries and making do is part of the NFL.
“We need to find a way to win a lot of games now matter what. Just get it done.”
Given the fact he has missed five weeks with an injury initially described as “day to day” and specified as back spasms, there has been much wonder both inside and outside the organization about the severity of Gaither’s injury and his readiness to return. Smith has declined to comment on that issue, but fans and media have not.
“Everyone has an opinion on everything,” Smith said. “That’s never going to change – nor should it. However, it doesn’t matter to us how much debate is going on. We have an injured player and we are working our way through the process with Jared. We wish him a speedy recovery. Our coaches work with his replacement, and we just focus on Chargers business. The outside noise does not enter the mix.”