But according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Chargers could be without the team’s first-round selection for the duration of his rookie season if he opts for surgery to repair a lower disc herniation that doesn’t appear to be getting better.
According to the report, Williams recently had a second epidural injection as a last-ditch effort to get him ready for training camp. The Chargers are hopeful that the Clemson product will respond well to the injection but are also preparing as if Williams will not be ready by the end of July.
I said earlier this offseason, when the team initially announced the issue, that back injuries are tricky, and the rookie receiver's injury could linger into the regular season and force him to essentially take a redshirt year.
One thing working in the team’s favor is that the Chargers have good depth at that position, with No. 1 receiver Keenan Allen appearing fully healthy during offseason work after missing 2016 with an ACL injury.
Tyrell Williams is fresh off a 1,000-yard receiving season in 2016 and ready to take another step in his development. Travis Benjamin should be even better in his second season as a vertical threat with quarterback Philip Rivers. Steady Dontrelle Inman has developed a good rapport with Rivers, and Isaiah Burse also is earning Rivers’ trust as a slot receiver.
Young receivers such as Geremy Davis and Jamaal Jones showed flashes during camp. Add to the mix tight ends Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates, along with Melvin Gordon and Branden Oliver out of the backfield, and Rivers still has plenty of playmakers at his disposal.
However, the overarching issue is why this organization continues to select players with shaky injury histories.
Two years ago, Williams suffered a broken neck that forced him to miss the 2015 season while at Clemson. Schefter alluded to the fact that the Clemson product could have suffered the injury during the combine in February or at his pro day -- not on the team’s first day of rookie minicamp in May.
Defensive end Joey Bosa, the Chargers’ first-round selection last season, missed the first four games of the regular season with a lingering hamstring strain after holding out the first month of training camp over a contract dispute.
Running back Melvin Gordon suffered a knee injury that required microfracture knee surgery at the end of his rookie season (2015) and suffered knee and hip injuries that forced him to miss the last three games of his sophomore campaign.
Cornerback Jason Verrett missed 24 games during his first three seasons in the league due to shoulder and knee issues.
The Chargers led the league with 21 players on injured reserve in 2016. Although new head coach Anthony Lynn has put in place a system that he believes will curb the team’s injuries over the duration of a long season, the Chargers still seem to be working through a process that weeds out potential injury risks at opening stages of acquiring talent.