Running back Jamaal Charles left with a neck injury after a helmet-to-helmet hit by Chargers' linebacker Donald Butler.
Peyton Hillis and Shaun Draughn would finish the game in the backfield.
Charles was able to walk off the field under his own power and is believed to have been cleared after passing tests for a concussion. However, the Chiefs should tread lightly with their star running back.
Though Kansas City has underutilized Charles over the last three games—just 29 carries for 83 yards—not having him in the lineup would cripple an already inept offense. But at what point does this team think about canning this season entirely?
The extent of Charles' neck injury is unknown. However, the Chiefs don't play again until Nov. 12 in a Monday Night Football matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If Charles is healthy, should Chiefs still limit his exposure the rest of the season?
With this season already lost, there is no reason to run Charles out on the field unless he is completely healthy—keep in mind that he is still just a year out from an ACL injury.
The Chiefs will be playing catch-up a lot and may not be in position to utilize Charles in a way that puts the offense in the best position to succeed regardless of his health—which is in line with his recent limited role anyway. So will there even be much of a difference?
The Chiefs are going nowhere in 2012, but could be just a few pieces away from competing in the AFC West beyond this season. Jeopardizing the long-term health of their best offensive player would further risk the immediate future of this franchise.