COSTA MESA — Philip Rivers is in danger of missing his first game since becoming the Chargers’ starting quarterback more than a decade ago.
The 35-year-old was placed in the concussion protocol after taking several hits during a 20-17 road loss to the Jaguars on Sunday. Coach Anthony Lynn said the veteran passer self-reported symptoms on Monday morning, adding that he had not noticed anything amiss with Rivers during or after the game.
If the quarterback is unable to play against Buffalo this weekend at StubHub Center, the Chargers (3-6) will likely turn to backup Kellen Clemens – a 34-year-old journeyman who has thrown just 10 passes in his four seasons with this franchise. Clemens went 4-5 in his last stint as a starter in 2013, when he replaced an injured Sam Bradford in St. Louis.
“Obviously, I’d rather have my starter,” Lynn said. “But if something happens with Philip, we’ll go with Kellen. … Kellen’s been in this system long enough. He knows this system like the back of his hand.”
No amount of experience Clemens has can replace what the team gets from Rivers, a six-time Pro Bowler. Acquired in a draft-day trade in 2004, the former North Carolina State star sat on the bench for two seasons behind Drew Brees. Since taking over for Brees – who joined the Saints as a free agent in 2006 – Rivers has started 194 consecutive games, including nine in the postseason.
That streak stands as the fourth-longest for any NFL quarterback ever, behind Brett Favre (321), Peyton Manning (227) and Eli Manning (220).
“Philip is obviously the cornerstone of what we do,” said tight end Antonio Gates, the only player whose Chargers tenure predates Rivers’.
Added right guard Kenny Wiggins: “He is the heart and soul of our offense.”
It is unclear exactly when Rivers sustained his injury at EverBank Field. Although the Chargers didn’t surrender a sack, Jacksonville defenders were able to knock him around throughout the day. Rivers took a…