Starting LB Cooper out for Chargers; WR Floyd doubtful

Stephen Cooper, one of just three San Diego Chargers linebackers to play in every game this season, has been ruled out for Sunday's contest against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team announced Friday.

Cooper sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament in a knee during a Dec. 16 game against the San Francisco 49ers. He is expected to play in the Jan. 2 regular-season finale against the Denver Broncos.

"He's our captain for a reason," Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips said Thursday, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. "It's always tough not having him in there, but we have capable guys like Brandon Siler, who's played a lot of good football. There are 10 other guys on the field, as well. It means we all need to step up our game a little bit more."

Siler, who has battled a rib injury, is probable for the game and expected to replace Cooper at inside linebacker. It's also possible that recently signed Brandon Moore, who has played the past two seasons in the United Football League, will play Sunday. An array of injuries have forced the Chargers to use 14 linebackers this season.

"This year has been crazy, guys going on IR, guys up and down all season with crazy injuries," Cooper said Thursday. "At the same time, you have to go to war with whoever is up that week."

Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates is out with lingering toe and foot injuries.

Wide receivers Patrick Crayton (wrist) and Malcom Floyd (hamstring) didn't practice Friday and are doubtful.

Linebacker Larry English (foot) and guard Scott Mruczkowski (ankle) were limited in practice and are questionable.

The Chargers should have starting guard Louis Vasquez (neck nerve damage) back. He practiced Friday and is listed as probable.

Running back Ryan Mathews and fullback Jacob Hester, both listed with an illness, practiced and are listed as probable. Linebacker Antwan Applewhite (ankle) and wide receiver Kelley Washington both practiced and are probable.

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