The Chargers began Sunday minus seven players who were projected starters entering training camp.
Then they lost three more against Carolina — wide receiver Mike Williams (hamstring), right tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (foot).
All three will be reevaluated Monday, the Chargers offering no medical updates after their 21-16 loss.
Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert also had to leave at one point early in the fourth quarter after taking a hit to his ribs and having the wind knocked out of him.
Backup Easton Stick, who never has appeared in an NFL game, replaced Herbert. The Chargers used a timeout before snapping the ball again, however, allowing Herbert to return.
Herbert made his second career start in place of Tyrod Taylor, who is recovering from a punctured lung suffered in a pregame medical accident on Sept. 20. Taylor also is dealing with ribs that were fractured in the season opener.
A 10th-year veteran, Taylor remains out indefinitely. The Chargers have given no timetable for his return. But medical sources have indicated a typical recovery time for a punctured lung is four to six weeks.
In red zone
Defensively, the Chargers kept the Panthers out of the end zone five times on six trips inside the 20-yard line. They also stopped nine of 12 third-down conversion attempts.
“They kept the offense in the game,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “Overall, I thought they played their tails off.”
The one thing the Chargers didn’t do on defense was generate turnovers. They now have gone back-to-back games with no takeaways.
“We may have to get a little more aggressive with our calls,” Lynn said. “But our players also have to be a little more aware of when they can get those turnovers.”
The Chargers thought they were getting the ball at their 20-yard line to start their final drive, but
officials changed the call when replay determined that Carolina long snapper J.J. Jansen had possession and two feet down inside the one-yard line before the ball ended up in the end zone.
“I’m not sure how good of a call that was, to be honest with you,” Lynn said. “We saw it the other way.”