Vanilla or chocolate.
Paper or plastic.
Heads or tails.
Some coin flip decisions are easier than others, and the San Diego Chargers are facing a toss-up of their own this offseason at one of the most important positions on the field. The battle at left tackle is heating up for the Bolts as training camp wears on and the regular season closes in by the day.
Max Starks or King Dunlap doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like the choices listed above, but that is the query facing the Chargers as the preseason rolls along. Both saw action in the opening preseason game and have shared reps during practices due to injuries or others needing a breather, but now the true competition begins.
The Bolts started using both Dunlap and Starks on a rotational basis in practice to get an equal look at just how they perform in the spotlight with the first-team. The surprising Dunlap has actually dominated the first-team time thus far through camp, but the veteran savvy of Starks offers something that quarterback Philip Rivers has been lacking at left tackle since Marcus McNeill left: consistency.
Dunlap offered his thoughts on the new rotation in practice to U-T San Diego as he said:
“We knew it was coming. They said it was going to happen, and it started this week. I figured when we started preseason games (the rotation) would get rolling. It doesn’t change anything for me. It’s still the same mentality, coming in and working hard, doing what I got do.”
In game action, Dunlap also saw the first-team reps while Starks worked with a group of second-teamers that didn’t fare so well. He still showed what he was capable of against the Seattle Seahawks in the opener, but the Chicago Bears will present yet another stiff challenge in the second preseason affair. Their defense allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL last season and had a league-leading 44 takeaways to go along with it.
Starks weighed in on the challenge they present up front as he said:
“They had 10 defensive touchdowns last year. Very savvy group, which means they get a lot of pressure and force the quarterback in bad situations. It’s going to be a great front to go against. It will be a great challenge.”
After already facing a solid front in Seattle, the Bolts get another good test on Thursday, August 15. These games will prepare the guys in the trenches for the regular season when week after week you are facing a team’s top pass rushers and run stuffers.
While the choice between Dunlap and Starks remains murky, if it’s anything like the quintessential decision of vanilla or chocolate, how can you go wrong?