Heading into the kickoff of the Chargers' game versus the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, there were lingering questions surrounding whether quarterback Justin Herbert would be active for the contest after suffering fractured rib cartilage on Sept. 15, and if so, how much would he play?
The answer to those questions ended up being yes, and the whole game. But Herbert's participation wasn't enough to bring Los Angeles the win, as Jacksonville dominated, winning 38-10.
The Chargers' decision to have Herbert play the whole game despite the lopsided score and his recent injury was met with plenty of questions for L.A. head coach Brandon Staley following the game.
"He wanted to be out there with his teammates," Staley said. "He felt good, and he wanted to finish the game."
Herbert echoed the sentiment that he didn't want to be removed from the game during his news conference.
"Felt like we were getting the ball out quick, so I didn't want to quit on the team," Herbert said.
Staley was asked if there becomes a point where as the head coach he needs to tell Herbert to sit.
"For sure," Staley said. "Believe me, throughout the entire game, that's the first thought throughout the game and at the end of the game. Trust me there's no one thinking about it more than I am."
A reporter then followed up by asking why take the risk by playing Herbert.
"That was just the decision that we made," Staley said, "and it was about us finishing that game as a team, and it was important that we did it."
Herbert had only limited practice time in the week leading up to the matchup with the Jaguars. After being listed as questionable on the Chargers' injury report, Herbert's status became a game-time decision. Of the eventual choice he made to play, Herbert said he and the team hadn't made the decision until "right before kickoff," and he chose to take the field with the knowledge that he had been fully cleared by the medical staff, whom he trusted.
"I had a feeling that I was going to go in, and was just going to see how it felt, and before warmups it felt good. So, I was going to roll with it," Herbert said. "I trust the medical staff. I trust the training staff, and they're not going to put me in harms way. I felt like it was safe, they felt like it was safe, and so I was going to go out there and play."
Herbert played the entire 60 minutes, even once it appeared the game had gotten out of hand, and finished with 297 yards and one touchdown, while completing only 55.6% of his passes. Most importantly, after the game Herbert said he still felt good and did not indicate that playing had aggravated his injury.
When he was then asked about how he balances wanting to play versus getting himself healthy, the 24-year-old said he'll always put his team ahead of anything else, reiterating that he felt safe enough to play.
"It's what the team needs, and sometimes you have to put your goals behind the team, and I think that's what's most important," Herbert said. "I felt like I was safe out there, and I didn't want to quit on the team."
The Chargers visit the Houston Texans on Sunday, Oct. 2.