Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert will have surgery to repair his fractured right index finger Tuesday and was placed on injured reserve, ending his 2023 season, the team announced.
Herbert suffered the injury in Los Angeles’ 24-7 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday on a hit from defensive end Zach Allen in the second quarter. Herbert completed a pass to tight end Donald Parham Jr. on the play, got up and looked at his right hand. He stayed in the game for the rest of the series before going to the locker room and not returning.
He finishes his fourth season with 3,134 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
On Monday, coach Brandon Staley said the focus with Herbert returning from his injury would be on his future, and with a broken finger on his throwing hand, a return with four games left always appeared unlikely on a 5-8 Chargers team.
“Certainly, there’s nothing more important than that, than his right hand. And his long-term future,” Staley said. “He’s 25 years old, and he’s got a really, really bright future in front of him. So, like I said, every decision we make is going to be with that in mind.”
Herbert had started 62 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak by a quarterback, behind only the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen (84). That streak will end when the Chargers play the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday, with Easton Stick starting for Los Angeles. Rookie quarterback Max Duggan will be the backup.
Stick, a fifth-round draft pick in 2019, replaced Herbert on Sunday when he left in the second quarter. Stick led the Chargers to their only touchdown on a drive in which he completed a 57-yard pass to Quentin Johnston before Austin Ekeler ran in for the score four plays later. Stick finished the game with 13-of-24 passing for 179 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I have all the confidence in the world,” safety Derwin James said of Stick on Monday. “He gives us a great look every week. When he got in the game, you’ve seen the throws that he was able to make and some of the plays he was able to make. I have all of the confidence in him. We’re going to be behind him and have his back as a defense.”
The Chargers still aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and Keenan Allen said Sunday that players still haven’t ruled out the postseason. Now, they will rely on Stick to spark an improbable turnaround.
“It’s tough,” Allen said. “When we … practice, we’re pretty much with [Herbert] the whole time, so having Stick in there, we know Stick can make those plays. We know he’s got the knowledge for the game. He’s been around for a long time. So the confidence was still high in Stick, but obviously, Herbo is our guy.”
The Chargers activated receiver Joshua Palmer from injured reserve in a corresponding move Tuesday.