Mike Williams out 2-3 weeks with broken back, sources say

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams has a small, non-surgical fracture in his back that should sideline him for two to three weeks, sources told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry on Friday.

Barring a Super Bowl run, Williams’ season is likely over.

Williams had been demoted for Saturday’s playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chargers said Williams will remain in Los Angeles to continue receiving treatment.

The sixth-year wide receiver hadn’t practiced all week after being injured in the regular season finale against the Denver Broncos, a game that didn’t affect the Chargers’ playoff position.

A first X-ray on Williams was negative, and a first MRI also came back negative. However, Williams was not progressing as expected when initially diagnosed with a back contusion, which led to an additional MRI and diagnosis of a fracture.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley on Thursday defended his decision to play his starters against the Broncos.

“It’s hard to decide who plays and who doesn’t and who is more valuable than the others,” Staley said. “What you’re trying to do is set a standard for your program on how you do things. That’s what I believe in, and I didn’t want anyone getting hurt by [the game]whatever their status, because everyone is important.”

A first-round pick in 2017, Williams caught 63 passes for a team-best 895 yards and four touchdowns this season. He missed four games with a sprained ankle and he teamed with Keenan Allen in just four full games in 2022. The Chargers were 4-0 in those contests.

Joshua Palmer, who is second on the team in receptions (72) and yards (769), will start in place of Williams.

Williams has struggled with back issues throughout his career and missed the first five games of his rookie season in 2017 with a back injury.

The fifth-seeded Chargers (10-7) make their first playoff appearance since 2018 and face the Jaguars in the playoffs for the first time.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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