The Los Angeles Chargers made it a priority to fix the issues along the offensive line this past offseason. Last year, the Chargers offense had one of the worst units in the league and it was time for wholesale changes up front.
The Bolts added free agent Russell Okung on a big 5-year, $53 million deal and drafted guards Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney to bolster the interior of the line.
With so many new faces there are plenty of candidates who have to prove themselves this season. Okung’s big contract, Feeney’s third-round draft status, and if Forrest Lamp was healthy, he would crack the list too.
Yet, the players who survived the offensive lines revamping have to prove themselves as well. Joe Barksdale and Matt Slauson need to prove that they won’t hold this new-look unit back.
During camp, there will also be a handful of backups that have jobs on the line. Players like Donavan Clark and Tyreek Burwell need to show that they can be versatile depth if an injury occurs. While former third-round pick Max Tuerk needs to show that he is healthy and can be a useful player.
It’s impossible to forget about Kenny Wiggins and Spencer Pulley as well. They are both slotted to be starting according to the Chargers first depth chart. The pressure is on for them to prove they are starting caliber players.
Although the entire offensive line will have the microscope on them during preseason and training camp, the spotlight shines the brightest on Okung. He is getting paid like an elite tackle and he needs to keep Rivers upright.
For years, the left tackle position has been a problem for the Chargers. Okung needs to perform like he did in Seattle a few seasons ago. During the early years, of Russel Wilson’s career, Okung did a fantastic job in protecting his blindside.
Last season with the Denver Broncos, Okung was an average tackle at best. According to Pro Football Focus, Okung was the 41st ranked tackle in the NFL. With the money he is getting paid now, that type of play won’t cut it.
Even though Okung was average with Denver, the Broncos have similar offensive line struggles. For them to not consider bringing Okung back is worrisome. The last time the Chargers picked up a Denver lineman was Orlando Franklin. Not one of Telesco’s best finds.
For Okung’s price tag, remaining healthy is also a major key. He has only played in 16 games once in his career and that was last season with the Broncos. Sadly, Okung is with the Chargers now so naturally, the injury luck won’t be on his side.
For what it’s worth, Okung seems to love new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. Who knows if it’s the spark Okung needed to get back to his Pro Bowl form. Okung has been vocal on social media and appears to be a leader for the offense.
Okung has a big contract in tow and is lined up at the most important position along the offensive line. He may have a job solidified this season, but he needs to return to form if the Chargers want to return to the playoffs.