Chargers place LT Gaither on IR

The San Diego Chargers placed left tackle Jared Gaither on
injured reserve Friday, ending an unproductive season for a player
expected to shore up a shaky offensive line.

”We’ve given Jared Gaither every opportunity to be a part of
this team and it just hasn’t worked out,” said coach Norv Turner,
who clearly was disappointed at the way the lineman’s season has
gone.

”Obviously, physically he hasn’t been able to be part of
it.”

Asked if he was happy with the work ethic of the 6-foot-9,
335-pound Gaither, the coach said: ”It is what it is. There’s not
really a lot left to be said about it.”

Gaither played in only four games this season. He missed almost
all of training camp and the first three games with a back injury.
He injured his groin late in a loss at New Orleans and played in
only two games since.

In the closing seconds of the Saints game, with the Chargers
desperately trying for the tying touchdown, Martez Wilson blew past
the hobbled Gaither on Philip Rivers’ blind side for a strip-sack
and recovered the fumble to preserve the Saints’ 31-24 victory.

Gaither was signed off waivers after Marcus McNeill was hurt
late last year, and played well in the final five games. The
Chargers gave Gaither a four-year, $24.5 million contract in
March.

Rivers has been under siege most of the season because of the
line’s poor play. Adding to San Diego’s woes was the retirement of
left guard Kris Dielman due to a concussion.

Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions and lost four fumbles this
season, giving him 43 turnovers since the start of the 2011
season.

Undrafted rookie Mike Harris has filled in for Gaither, and will
have to face Terrell Suggs of the AFC North-leading Baltimore
Ravens on Sunday.

”I don’t know what we would have done without him,” Turner
said about Harris. ”He’s a guy who’s improved and working as hard
as he can. He’s been in some tough matchups and he’s managed to the
best of his ability.”

Asked if he’d like to see Gaither back next year, Turner said:
”You know, we’re going to start getting those questions about a
lot of things. I’m interested in doing what we can to give this
team the best chance to win the Baltimore game. Obviously, after
that we move on to the next opponent.”

Turner is expected to be fired if the Chargers miss the playoffs
for the third straight season. At 4-6, the Chargers have all but
ceded the AFC West title to the Denver Broncos and are a longshot
to secure a wild-card berth.

The Chargers are expected to sign tackle Kevin Haslam from the
practice squad to the active roster.

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