Chargers' Russell Okung returns to practice from pulmonary embolism

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Russell Okung returned to practice on Thursday and did not rule out the possibility of playing Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

"Being sidelined after suffering a pulmonary embolism earlier this year has been an intense battle that I'm thankful to put behind me," Okung wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. "I want to thank [agent] J.I. Halsell who helped me navigate this unique scenario with the Chargers front office. Big thanks as always to the fans who have responded to my health status with care and compassion, looking forward to being back in action."

The Chargers also announced that receiver Travis Benjamin has been placed on injured reserve. The Bolts used the vacant roster spot to bring back defensive tackle T.Y. McGill.

Okung had been placed on the non-football illness list for the first six weeks of the regular season after revealing this summer that he suffered a pulmonary embolism caused by blood clots. Okung said he experienced shortness of breath on June 1, and his wife, Samar, implored him to be evaluated. The two have a 3½-month-old son, Cairo.

"I definitely looked death right in the face," Okung said. "Had it not been for a family that cared about my well being and took the extra steps to make sure that I got checked on, despite my own resistance to them, I may not be here right now. So I'm grateful for people that love me and care about me."

Okung said he did his research on the condition and went through some soul searching with his family before returning.

"I've always been an optimist," Okung said. "Family is a priority. Today is a culmination of hard conversations with my family, my loved ones, and internally looking at myself to figure out if this is the best decision for me. And we made that decision together as a family that it did make sense for me to keep playing."

His return to practice starts a 21-day window for the Chargers to evaluate whether to place him on the active roster or the reserve list for the rest of the season.

Okung had been working out regularly with trainers since the start of training camp. Asked if he would play this weekend, Okung did not rule out the possibility.

"I'm talking with the trainers and the coaches, and we're trying to put together the best plan for me to come back as healthy as possible," Okung said.

Second-year pro Trent Scott has been starting at left tackle with Okung out.

The Chargers also lost Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey for the season because of a neck injury that required surgery. Left guard Dan Feeney moved to starting center to replace Pouncey, and Forrest Lamp started his first game at left guard in the Chargers' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

Benjamin missed practice on Wednesday with a quad injury and has been dinged up most of the year, totaling just six receptions for 30 yards through six games.