Chargers wideout Stevie Johnson out for season

The San Diego Chargers will have to play the 2016 season without Stevie Johnson.

The veteran wide receiver has learned that surgery to repair a meniscus tear will prevent him from suiting up this year, the team confirmed Thursday. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport first reported the news Wednesday.

The procedure was successful, per Rapoport, but will require a lengthier rehab process than originally expected.

Johnson suffered the freak injury during an early-camp practice. The ninth-year veteran was expected to operate as the primary slot receiver after tallying 45 catches for 497 yards and three touchdowns in his first season with the Chargers.

Due $3.5 million in 2017, the 30-year-old wide receiver is no lock to return to San Diego next offseason.

Although the Bolts signed former Packers wideout James Jones in response to Johnson's injury, they have several options to replace his production.

It will be interesting to see if Keenan Allen sees more time in the slot, with Jones or Tyrell Williams outside. Alternatively, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt could slide Dontrelle Inman into Johnson's slot role or utilize more two-tight end sets with Antonio Gates and third-round draft pick Hunter Henry.

As promising as Johnson's rapport was with Philip Rivers, he was unlikely to surpass Allen, Gates, Travis Benjamin and Danny Woodhead in the pecking order. This aerial attack still has a strong chance to exceed expectations in 2016.

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