Jared Gaither placed on injured reserve

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Chargers tackle Jared Gaither’s injury-plagued 2012 season has come to an end.

The Chargers announced Friday that Gaither has been placed on injured reserve, ending a year that barely started for the guy they expected to be their left tackle this season. Gaither battled a back injury in the summer and missed the first three games of the season. A groin injury has kept him out for three of the last five games and has now spelled the end of his year.

Undrafted rookie Mike Harris will likely remain at left tackle with Gaither officially out of the lineup the rest of the way. That’s not great news for the Chargers offense as Harris has struggled to keep pass rushers out of the backfield all year. That’s resulted in a lot of pocket discomfort for Philip Rivers and lackluster play when San Diego’s had the ball.

Gaither signed a four-year deal with the Chargers before the season that paid him $9 million for this season between salary and a signing bonus. That’s $2.25 million per game played and half the $4.5 million he’ll make next season. That money accounts for all the guarantees made to Gaither, so he’ll likely be back in 2013 but his injury history requires the Chargers to have a better backup plan in place.