NFL 2019: Los Angeles Chargers vs Tennessee Titans OCT 20

Los Angeles Chargers offensive guard Forrest Lamp looks downfield during Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

NASHVILLE – Injuries have hindered Forrest Lamp from establishing himself in the NFL.

Primed for an opportunity to get that career going an hour away from where Lamp built a resume warranting the Los Angeles Chargers to give him that shot at the pros, another injury set him back.

The highest draft pick out of Western Kentucky made it just over 21 minutes into his second league start in the Chargers’ 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

Lamp left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and was officially ruled out by halftime.

“It stinks, but it’s part of football,” Lamp told the Daily News after the game. “We had a speech today that you never know when your last play is going to be and my game got cut a little bit short today. But whatever it is, I’ll be back for sure.”

Lamp injured his ankle in the second quarter after Philip Rivers completed a downfield pass. He was assisted off the field and was ruled out of the game by halftime.

“We’ll get an MRI (Monday) and see what’s going on,” Lamp said. “I don’t have anything right now. I just got rolled up on. That’s part of football and it happens. It is what it is.”

With Lamp going down, the Chargers are once again looking for consistency on the offensive line. The third-year player got his chance to start when center Mike Pouncey went down with an injury a few weeks ago. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn stressed that chemistry is crucial for a team now 2-5 with three straight losses.

“Next man up,” Lynn said. “We’ve always had next man up mentality. Forrest is down right now, so next man up.”

Lamp’s second injury put an unfortunate cap on what was a nice homecoming weekend for who could arguably be considered the best offensive lineman to come out of WKU.

The Chargers landed in Nashville on Friday and Lamp had most of the day Saturday to make the trip to Bowling Green for homecoming. He joined several Hilltoppers on the sideline for WKU’s 30-14 win over Charlotte and left shortly after halftime to rejoin L.A. for team meetings for final preparations against the Titans.

“It was good,” Lamp said. “Hadn’t been back to Western in two or three years since my rookie season. Good to get back to WKU and see (athletics director) Todd Stewart and a bunch of other people I know from up there. It was homecoming, so it worked out perfectly.”

Lamp is the highest professional draft pick out of WKU after an All-American career. The Chargers selected Lamp No. 38 overall early in the second round of the 2017 draft, making him the first Hilltopper ever picked in the second round. Defensive back Joseph Jefferson, picked No. 74 in the 2002 draft, was previously the highest drafted WKU player.

The Venice, Fla., native started 51 of a possible 53 games during his WKU career, mostly at left tackle. He missed two games in 2016 due to a knee injury. He was an Associated Press Third-Team All-American and All-Conference USA selection as a senior.

He helped pave the way for 1,000-yard rushers in each of his four seasons and didn’t allow a sack in his final two years with the Hilltoppers. He had a 39-14 collegiate record and was part of WKU’s 2015 and 2016 conference championships and played a role in three straight bowl victories.

Lamp joined the Chargers in their transition season from San Diego to Los Angeles and was expected to compete for a starting spot. In the Chargers’ fourth practice of training camp during his rookie year, Lamp tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and missed the entire season.

That injury required a second surgery in May 2018, which didn’t allow him to put weight on his right leg for nearly 10 weeks. When he was finally healed and healthy to play, the Chargers already had an established offensive line and used him in a backup role in two games.

He earned his first start in Week 6 when Pouncey’s injury caused a lineup shuffle. He started at left guard against the Pittsburgh Steelers and played all 62 snaps.

As Lamp finally got his opportunity, injury struck once again.

The 6-foot-4, 310-pound guard left the game with 8:55 to go in the second quarter. Most of the attention wasn’t on the injury during the pause in play as officials reviewed a sideline catch by Mike Williams.

Lamp was helped off the field by two members of the Chargers’ training staff and carted to the locker room.

“I know it’s not going to be as bad as my ACL, so I’ll be fine,” Lamp said. “I’ve been back. Had two knee surgeries before. It is what it is. Whatever is wrong with me, if it’s a high ankle sprain or whatever I’ve got to get done, I’ll be back for sure.”{&end}

– Follow WKU athletics beat writer Elliott Pratt on Twitter @EPrattBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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