Mike Williams, despite suffering a significant right shoulder injury less than two weeks ago, could be on the field when the Chargers face the Bengals in Week 1. On Thursday, Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen expressed optimism as it relates to Williams’ Week 1 status. 

“Mike’s gotta be ready to play,” Steichen said, via Gilbert Manzano of The Orange County Register. “I think Mike has got that mindset to be ready to play … We look forward to having him on September 13.”

The 26-year-old Williams is entering a pivotal season as far as his future earnings are concerned. The seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft, Williams, who is still in the middle of his rookie contract, is the 46th highest-paid receiver (in terms of annual salary) in the league heading into the 2020 season. That’s quite a bargain for a player who led the NFL with a 20.2 yards per reception in 2019.

Last season was a breakout year for Williams, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving barrier for the first time in his career. His breakout performance took place in Week 9 when he caught all three of his targets for 111 yards in a road win over the Packers. 

Williams is part of one of the better receiving duos in the NFL along with Keenan Allen, a Pro Bowler each of the past three seasons. Last season, Allen caught a career-high 104 passes for 1,199 yards and six touchdowns. He caught at least five passes 12 times during 2019, including a 13-catch, 183-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Chargers’ Week 3 loss to the Texans. 

The Chargers’ offense also includes running back Austin Ekeler, who made the most of his increased playing opportunities last season in relief of Melvin Gordon. Last fall, Ekeler amassed 1,550 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns, including 92 receptions for 993 yards and eight touchdowns. Ekeler’s performance earned him a four-year, $24.5 million contract with $15 million guaranteed.

Williams, Allen and Ekeler will look to make life easier for veteran Tyrod Taylor, who earlier this week was named the Chargers’ Week 1 starter. A 10-year veteran and 2015 Pro Bowler, Taylor has a 23-21-1 record as a starter. The 31-year-old Taylor has also been working closely with rookie Justin Herbert, who recently saw time against the Chargers’ first-team offense.

“He’s out there making plays,” Taylor said of Herbert, via the Los Angeles Times. “There’s still a learning curve, a learning process like [with] every young player in this league. But he’s doing his best. He’s going out there and making plays.”

If Williams is unable to be back for the season-opener, Chargers fans should expect a significant contribution from Jalen Guyton, who has seen snaps with the first-team offense following Williams’ injury. Guyton, who went undrafted last spring, initially broke into the NFL with the Cowboys before spending most of his rookie season on the Chargers’ practice squad. Guyton started his college career at Notre Dame before transferring to North Texas, where he caught 103 passes for 1,580 yards and 15 touchdowns in two seasons with the Mean Green. 

“Coach obviously wants me here taking the top off, kinda using my speed,” Guyton said when asked about his possible role within the offense. “I see myself as a Dennis Rodman kinda guy. I’m here, kinda prepping myself to be the (third receiver), coming into support what we already have established (with) Keenan Allan and Mike. Stick my face in the fan, as coach would say, getting blocks, helping the whole team and the whole unit excel.” 

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