Williams was injured Sunday after making a catch late in the third quarter of the team’s 28-24 victory at Minnesota. Tests on Monday confirmed the severity of his injury.
In his absence, rookie first-round draft pick Quentin Johnston is expected to see an increased role after being used in a limited basis to open the season.
“He just needs to continue to improve,” coach Brandon Staley said of the 21st overall selection. “We believe in the ability of this guy. We believe in the makeup of this guy. Now, he’s going to get a bigger opportunity."
Johnston has been in a part-time role as the team’s fourth wideout behind Williams, Keenan Allen and Joshua Palmer. He has five catches for 26 yards.
Coming out of Texas Christian, one Johnston’s biggest issues was drops, something that showed up again at times during training camp and the preseason. He also made plays that suggested he could contribute sooner than later in his first season.
“We know what we have with Josh and Keenan,” Staley said. “We know who those guys are and what they can do. For Quentin, it’s just establishing that comfort zone and getting him in rhythm.”
Williams finishes the season with 19 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown, which he scored against the Vikings on a pass from Allen.
In his seventh season out of Clemson, Williams has dealt with a variety of injuries throughout his career but has managed to appear in at least 13 games each year since 2018.
He missed the Chargers’ AFC wild-card playoff loss at Jacksonville in January after suffering a back injury in the regular-season finale.
When Williams and Allen both missed time in 2022, Palmer emerged as a reliable target for quarterback Justin Herbert, finishing with 72 receptions for 769 yards and three scores.
In April, the Chargers also drafted Johnston’s former TCU teammate Derius Davis, a speedy wide receiver and kick returner. Staley mentioned that Davis also would have an increased role on offense with Williams out.
Another receiver working his way back is Jalen Guyton, who remains out because of a knee injury that ended his 2022 season in Week 3.
Guyton has been seen during practice recently working on his own as he ramps up his activity. He is eligible to return at the earliest after the Chargers’ game Sunday against Las Vegas.
Staley wouldn’t speculate on a timeline for Guyton. After playing the Raiders, the Chargers are off before returning to host Dallas on Oct. 16.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.