Cornerback Gill Byrd's son, Gill Jr., has been diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a disease characterized by inflammation and swelling of the joints.
Gill Jr., 6, had been sick for nearly three weeks with a temperature and soreness in his joints.
"At least we know what we're going up against," Byrd said. "At least they've given us some type of diagnosis."
Byrd is scheduled to meet with Gill Jr.s' doctor Tuesday to discuss treatment methods and rehabilitation. Gill Jr., Byrd said, returned to school Tuesday to a warm reception.
"He was excited," Byrd said. "All his schoolmates had been praying for him. They were happy to see him come back in. It was his first day, and I thought he would be a little apprehensive being out three weeks, but they said he did real well."
Revolving door update:
Kicker John Carney, cut by the Chargers during exhibition season and cut last week by the Rams after a brief stay, was signed and kicking by Wednesday afternoon's practice.
Also signed was cornerback Donnie Elder, who was released by the Miami Dolphins earlier this week after spending the first four weeks of the season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
Elder, a fifth-year player drafted by the New York Jets in the third round of the 1985 draft, brings quickness and experience to Chargers, Coach Dan Henning said. Elder has played 54 games in four seasons with the Jets, Steelers, Lions and Buccaneers. An accomplished special teams player, Elder led the NFC in 1988 with a 22.7-yard kickoff return average.
To make room for Carney and Elder, the Chargers released tackle Mike Withycombe, signed Sept. 11 off waivers from the Jets, and put cornerback Joe Fuller (hamstring) on injured reserve.
The Chargers have one spot still open on their five-man practice squad. Quarterback John Friesz, who spent the first four weeks of the season on injured reserve, practiced for the first time Wednesday. He counts as the fourth player. The fifth might be tackle Joel Patten, who has been on injured reserve recovering from knee surgery he had over the summer. Henning said Patten may be ready for practice today or Friday.
Charger injuries: Wide receiver Nate Lewis (thigh) is doubtful, and safety Vencie Glenn (concussion) and defensive end Burt Grossman (shoulder) are questionable. The Steelers have no significant injuries, though starting guard John Rienstra strained his knee in practice Wednesday, and it is unknown whether he will be available Sunday.