SAN DIEGO -- Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding and defensive end Luis Castillo are scheduled to have MRI exams Monday and both injuries are believed to be serious.
Kaeding injured his left knee on the opening kickoff during Sunday's 24-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, and Castillo injured his left leg in the fourth quarter. Both players were carted off the field.
Kaeding was not in the locker room after it was opened up to the media, but Castillo was wearing a large brace around his left knee and had crutches by his side.
Chargers punter Mike Scifres, who hadn’t attempted a field goal in a game on any level since 2000 when he was at Western Illinois, took over kicking duties after Kaeding was injured. He hit a 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that tied the score, made all three extra-point attempts and knocked two kickoffs out of the back of the end zone.
Despite Scifres’ performance, if Kaeding is lost for the season or any length of time, the Chargers would sign a replacement immediately. Chargers coach Norv Turner said he would not let Scifres handle kicks again even if Kaeding is even out one week.
“I think that you go down the wrong road when you ask a guy to do that,” Turner said of the idea of Scifres continuing to kick and punt. “The punters I've been around who've had to kick end up with leg problems. We had a guy tear a muscle on the side during the bye week. I just don't know if that's in our best interest."
Turner said he was unsure of the extent of the injuries to Kaeding and Castillo after the game, waiting until the results of the MRI exams to discuss contingency plans if both players are lost for extended periods.
“We’re working on a diagnosis,” Turner said. “We’re going to give them an MRI and all of those things. Hopefully it’s not a major deal.”
The Chargers were able to avoid another injury scare when running back Mike Tolbert, who had three touchdowns and 93 yards rushing and receiving Sunday, limped off the field in the fourth quarter. Tolbert, who was walking without a limp after the game brushed off the injury when he was asked about it and said he would be fine.
“Just a part of football,” Tolbert said. “Put a little dirt on it and go on.”