COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Joshua Palmer has returned to practice for the Los Angeles Chargers on Wednesday, giving the team’s beleaguered receiving group a bit of good news.
Palmer has been sidelined for the past five games because of a knee injury. He remains on injured reserve, but Wednesday’s practice opened the 21-day window to see if he can return to the active roster.
The third-year pro did not say if that return could come by Sunday, when the Chargers (5-7) host the Denver Broncos (6-6) in a key AFC West matchup.
“I’ll be ready to play soon. I’ve got 21 days to return. So within 21 days, I’ll be back on the field,” Palmer said after Wednesday’s practice. “All I know now is that it’s healing correctly.”
Coach Brandon Staley also did not give a timeline on when he thought Palmer would return to the lineup.
Palmer was second on the Chargers in receptions (23) and receiving yards (377) when he was placed on injured reserve. He started four games after Mike Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury during the second half of the Sept. 24 game at Minnesota.
Without Palmer, Justin Herbert has not had a consistent second option. Keenan Allen has an NFL-leading 102 receptions and is third in receiving yards with 1,175.
Allen has 48 receptions in the past five games while running back Austin Ekeler has 15 and first-round pick Quentin Johnston 14.
The Chargers also have been plagued by drops over the past five games with 14.
“Josh is a special player. It’s tough dealing with adversity like that, but he’s doing everything that he can in the training room, in the film room. Whenever he’s called, I know he’ll be ready,” quarterback Justin Herbert said.
Palmer’s return could also help buoy an offense that did not score a touchdown in last Sunday’s 6-0 victory over New England. It was only the sixth time since 2010 that a team won despite not reaching the end zone and shut out an opponent.
The Chargers offense has only three touchdowns in the past 10 quarters.
“We ultimately couldn’t score in the red zone. I think that’s the biggest part of it. I thought we did a good job of protecting the ball, but there are plenty of things on film that we can clean up,” Herbert said about the Patriots’ game.
NOTES: Staley said center Corey Linsley isn’t expected to return this season. Linsley has been on the non-football illness list since Week 4 because of a heart issue. … Safety JT Woods was activated off the non-football illness list after being out for nine games. Wide receiver Simi Fehoko was waived to make room for Woods.
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