SAN DIEGO — The Chargers will have to play the regular-season finale against the Broncos in Denver Sunday without quarterback Dan Fouts.
Fouts was ruled out of the game because of a shoulder injury and will be replaced by Mark Herrmann, Coach Al Saunders said in a news release Tuesday night.
Saunders said he had been informed by Dr. Gary Losse, team physician, that Fouts has a slightly torn rotator cuff in his throwing arm. The injury occurred in the first half of the 20-7 loss to Indianapolis Sunday.
Normal recovery time is about three-to-four weeks.
"Dan is a tough competitor and he would be out there if he could," said Steve Ortmayer, director of football operations. "It's tough to lose him at this point in the season. But Mark has had good experience in a backup role, and he is certainly capable of doing the job for us Sunday."
The injury was the latest blow to the Chargers, who are in the midst of a five-game losing streak that has all but cost them their first playoff opportunity since 1982.
The Chargers (8-6) need to defeat the Broncos if they are to have any chance of a wild-card berth. The Chargers also must hope for Cleveland to defeat Pittsburgh Saturday and Cincinnati to beat Houston Sunday.
"In this five-game slide, it has been one thing after another," cornerback Gill Byrd said. "Now we've got to play without Dan. But Mark is an experienced quarterback, and he'll do fine."
Herrmann, a seven-year veteran from Purdue, started one game this season at Seattle when Fouts was slowed by a calf injury. Herrmann completed 12 of 19 passes for 140 yards with 1 interception. Fouts did play briefly in the second half of the game in which Seattle defeated the Chargers, 34-3, to end an eight-game winning streak.
For the season, Herrmann has completed 24 of 34 passes (70.6%) for 282 yards and a touchdown. He has had one pass intercepted.
The Chargers have won only one of the six games Herrmann has started since he joined the team in a trade with the Colts in 1985.
Mark Vlasic, a fourth-round draft pick from Iowa who has not played in a regular-season game, will be activated to back up Herrmann, Saunders said.
Fouts, 36, has played in every non-strike game this season. He has completed 206 of 364 passes (56.6%) for 2,517 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has had 15 passes intercepted.
This will be the second time in the past three seasons Herrmann has started the season finale in place of an injured Fouts. Herrmann started the last game of the 1985 season, a 38-34 loss to Kansas City.