Chargers WR Palmer, Johnston called to step up

COSTA MESA, Calif (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Chargers have a lot of things going on as the team enters Week 4 of the NFL season with a home game against AFC West rival Las Vegas Raiders. 

After picking up the team’s first win of the season, a 28-24 win on the road against the Minnesota Vikings, the Chargers are looking at securing win No. 2 against the Raiders. 

Las Vegas is trying to even their record as well after dropping their last two games against the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers. In the win against Minnesota, the Chargers lost wide receiver Mike Williams for the season after the star wideout suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. 

Young receivers Joshua Palmer and rookie Quentin Johnston will be asked to step up their game in place of Williams. 

“Obviously, these things happen in seasons where you lose guy,” Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said after Thursday’s practice at the team’s practice facility..”For [the other receivers], it’s a great opportunity to get more chances. Certainly, there are guys capable of it. We’re really excited about them handling those different situations, different roles.”

Los Angeles Chargers rookie wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) is expected to make contributions to the team during the 2023 NFL season. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline
Los Angeles Chargers rookie wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) is expected to make contributions to the team during the 2023 NFL season. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Moore, who is operating in his first year as offensive coordinator for the Chargers, likes the way the rookie from TCU has transitioned himself into being an NFL wide receiver.   

“I think Quentin has done a nice job,” Moore said.”When you have Mike, [WR] Keenan [Allen] and Josh [Palmer], those guys have kind of been rolling. We’ve been putting Q [Johnston] into certain roles and situations. Obviously, his role will adjust. The volume will certainly increase. We’re excited about it. He’ll do a phenomenal job. I think, again, it’s just getting out there, playing and he’ll have some success again. He’ll make a couple of catches and then we’ll just go from there.”

Williams was playing well when he went down with his injury, ending his season with 19 catches for 249 yards and a touchdown. Against the Vikings, Williams hauled in seven passes for 121 yards, including catching a 49-yard touchdown pass from fellow wideout Keenan Allen. 

During a Zoom call with reporters on the day after Williams suffered his injury, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley called for the need for players to step up.  

“Everyone is going to have to elevate their game,” Staley said. “We have a lot of good options on our team — obviously, [WR] Quentin [Johnston], being the first guy that is going to emerge in a bigger role. We have [WR] Derius Davis, who has continued to develop. That fifth [wide receiver] spot is to be determined, but we know what we have in [WR] Josh [Palmer] and [WR] Keenan [Allen], those guys were fantastic yesterday in the game. 

“You guys all saw what Josh did last year when both Keenan and Mike were down. Everyone is going to have to elevate their game, and it’s not just the receiving group, it’s going to be that tight end group and running back group, as well. We’re going to have to work through those adjustments here during the week to get ready for the Raiders.”

Palmer had a big role in the Chargers’ offense last season, so the former Tennessee star should make the transition from being the third receiver to No. 2 without a hiccup. Drafted by the Chargers with the No. 77 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Palmer caught 72 passes for 769 yards and three touchdowns. He started 11 of the 16 games he played in during the 2022 season. 

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) appears in a game against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 23, 2022. Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

Moore is not worried about Palmer’s productivity.  

“Josh has played a lot of ball,” Moore remarked. “We feel very, very comfortable with him out there. No concerns whatsoever. He did it last year and, obviously, he’ll get his chance to do it again this year.”

Johnston was selected at the No. 21 spot in the 2023 NFL Draft by the Chargers. Going into Week 4, Johnston had accumulated five catches for 26 yards. Moore said the young wide receiver has shown signs of growth. 

“I think like any young guy, it’s just going through the process,” said Moore. “Training camp, you introduced a lot of different language, concepts and all of that sort of stuff. I thought he did a good job of just continuing to build, continuing to grow each week. You’re at a point where he’s got a few games underneath his belt. His rep count will certainly go higher and higher. I think he just needs that moment where he’ll go catch a couple of balls in this game and go from there.”

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