So, If You Bet Chargers' Mike Williams for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year …

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 10:45 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jul. 19, 2017 10:45 PM UTC

Potentially crushing news for the Los Angeles Chargers on rookie receiver Mike Williams. If a herniated disc in his back doesn’t improve soon with treatment, he could miss the 2017 season.

Chargers Reasons For Optimism

Some believe the Los Angeles Chargers – yep, I almost typed San Diego – could be a playoff team this season. Yes, they have missed the postseason the past three years and won just five games in 2016. And, yes, they will have a very unique home-field advantage this year playing in the 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Los Angeles, which normally houses the Galaxy of MLS. Will fans from San Diego travel north to root on the Bolts or are they still bitter at the team for leaving town? How will L.A. fans respond to the “other” team in the City of Angels. The Rams have a history in the city.

The Bolts weren’t that far from being at least a nine-win team last year. They just kept blowing games in the fourth quarter as nine of their 11 losses were by no more than one score and five were by 4 points or fewer. L.A. has a wins total of 7.5 for 2017 at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks.

The main reason for optimism is a Top-10 offense that ranked ninth in scoring at 25.6 points per game. Quarterback Phillip Rivers keeps going strong at age 35. He was fifth in the NFL with 4,386 yards passing and fourth in TD passes with 33. Melvin Gordon had a breakout second season in rushing for 997 yards and 10 scores and catching 41 passes for 419 yards and two TDs in 13 games. The Bolts have two excellent tight ends in future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates and second-year Hunter Henry, who caught eight TDs a year ago. The offensive line problems were addressed this offseason.

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Rookie Curse?

The one position I haven’t mentioned was receiver. The Chargers have one of the best in the NFL in Keenan Allen when healthy. He just rarely is. Allen was off to a monster start in 2015 through eight games but then suffered a season-ending injury. He did the same in Week 1 last year.

L.A. has some good secondary receivers in guys like Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman and Travis Benjamin but wanted a big playmaker and took Clemson’s Mike Williams at No. 7 overall in the 2017 draft. Last year, Williams caught 98 passes for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. If you watched the Tigers’ national championship game upset over Alabama, that talented Tide defense couldn’t guard the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder at times with his size.

Williams was projected to start opposite Allen and had been listed at +1200 on BetOnline NFL odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, now comes news that Williams might miss his entire rookie season due to a herniated disc in his lower back.

It is believed Williams suffered the injury in rookie minicamp. Back then, the team was confident he would be ready for camp. That’s not happening now after he recently receiving a second epidural procedure in the back. If that doesn’t take, he’s looking at season-ending surgery. Williams has risen to +2000 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at BetOnline.

Every team has issues, but the Chargers somehow haven’t had a first-round pick play all 16 games as a rookie since Melvin Ingram in 2012.  The Bolts led the league with 21 players on injured reserve in 2016.  One has to wonder about Williams’ durability considering he suffered a broken neck two years ago that forced him to miss the 2015 season at Clemson.

The Chargers haven’t had an Offensive Rookie of the Year since running back Don Woods in 1974. It’s now looking doubtful that Williams will end that drought. Chargers rookies and veterans are to report for training camp on July 29, with the team's first practice on July 30.

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