With just five weeks left in the NFL’s regular season, even shorter-term injuries can spell the end of a player’s season, and it appears two more won’t return until 2015. According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Chargers center Rich Ohrnberger will undergo back surgery and will be placed on injured reserve, while Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that the Saints believe defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley tore his quad, ending his season.
Ohrnberger, 28, will become the third San Diego center whose 2014 campaign has been cut short by injury, following Nick Hardwick and Doug Legursky to the IR list. In his absence, Chris Watt, who received the first start of his NFL career this past weekend, is expected to continue to hold the job. The Chargers will also open up a spot on their 53-man roster when Ohrnberger officially lands on IR, perhaps leading to the promotion or signing of another offensive lineman.
As for Bunkley, his diagnosis is still pending the result of an MRI, but according to Rapoport, his season is “almost certainly over.” With 276 defensive snaps this year, Bunkley was New Orleans’ second-most-used defensive tackle, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). I’d expect increased roles for players like John Jenkins and Tyrunn Walker over the last few weeks of the season.