When Kwame Geathers was carted off Sunday afternoon, it sure didn’t appear like he was going to play football again this season. The big man bent in ways a 335-pound human being should not bend. However, early indications reveal some hope the second-year player avoided ligament damage.
Geathers will have an MRI today, and we will await results before worrying too much, but if the second-string nose tackle is forced to miss any time, the Chargers may have a bit of a depth problem. Starter, Sean Lissemore, was in a walking boot after suffering an ankle injury in the second preseason game. Ankle injuries can be tricky, but all indications are that Lissemore should be good to go early in the regular season.
UPDATE: Geathers placed on IR Tuesday, nearly assuring he won’t suit up for San Diego this season.
Regardless, Lissemore was slated to rotate with Geathers and rookie, Ryan Carrethers. Carrethers has flashed, but doesn’t appear ready to be a full-time guy at the zero-technique — one of the toughest to learn, and most critical positions in the 3-4 defense. If Geathers is hurt and Lissemore can’t get back to 100 percent, the Bolts may need to look elsewhere for depth.
It just so happens a very capable defensive tackle hit the open market over the weekend. Defensive Tackle, Alan Branch, was brought up in the 3-4 system of the Arizona Cardinals. The former Michigan Wolverine was drafted 33rd overall in 2007 by Arizona, but never really figured it out as a Cardinal. In 2011, he signed with the Seahawks and was solid in two seasons for Seattle. He started 31 games and ate up blockers with his 6’6” 325 pound frame. Again in 2013, he moved teams and impressed so much with Buffalo, he was given a three-year contract extension before last season ended. However, this is where his problems began.
He skipped “voluntary” workouts with the Bills this offseason, and showed up to camp out of shape. After failing his conditioning test, Branch got a DUI less than 24 hours before the Bills game this weekend. The 29-year old was cut and is now free to sign with any team.
If we’re being honest, he doesn’t exactly fit the “Telesco mold.” The Chargers general manager brings in players with strong work ethic and minimal off the field issues. However, if Geathers misses a signifcant amount of time, and Lissemore struggles, the Chargers are going to need to address the position. Branch has a lot of experience and certainly has the physical game to clog up the middle for the Chargers defense. But for now, I don’t see the Chargers making a move on the veteran d-tackle
We have to hope Geathers’s MRI reveals no damage, but even if that is the case, he is likely going to miss some time. Lissemore platooned with Carrethers would be a good way to get the rookie acclimated to the NFL game, but depth is starting to become an issue. Like last year — when San Diego traded for Lissemore late in the preseason — I am sure Telesco will keep his eye on the waiver wire following roster cuts. If the Chargers can find a player to improve the interior defensive line not named Alan Branch, they will pull the trigger assuming bad news on the injury front.