The San Diego Chargers allowed 49 sacks last season, which ranked fourth worst in the NFL. It will be up to new head coach Mike McCoy and his staff to solve the issues that made San Diego’s offensive line struggle in 2012.
While Nick Hardwick will start at center, there will be a battle for most of San Diego’s other four spots on the offensive line. According to Michael Gehlken of utsandiego.com, McCoy said, “We’re just putting different combinations out there. We’ll figure out who the best five are come the opener.”
McCoy continued, “That’s just part of the process. We’re going to move guys now through training camp. You’ve got to work different combinations of guys.”
The Chargers’ first string offensive line has been practicing with King Dunlap at left tackle, Chad Rinehart at left guard, Hardwick at center, Jeromey Clary at right guard and D.J. Fluker at right tackle.
There have been questions regarding the athleticism of Fluker, but he has lost 16 pounds since he last played for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Clary is making the switch from RT to RG, so he could advise Fluker if he struggles in his first season, as could former Pittsburgh Steelers LT Max Starks, who has some experience at RT.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers had 15 interceptions last season, which was tied for 10th worst in the NFL with New York Giants QB Eli Manning. Rivers also lost seven fumbles; the turnovers were due in part to San Diego’s offensive line, which fought through injuries and was unprepared when former LT Jared Gaither was hurt.
San Diego’s front office added veterans in Dunlap, Starks, Rinehart and Rich Ohrnberger, who all should help the offensive line. Johnnie Troutman was San Diego’s 2012 fifth-round pick, but he missed the entire 2012 season with a pectoral injury; his return will add depth at the guard position.
It will be interesting to see who emerges as the starters on San Diego’s offensive line, but no matter who makes up the starting five, the Chargers should have more depth on their offensive line this season.