Saturday, September 1, 2012
Rookie LT to face Oakland's top D-line
By Bill Williamson
Mike Harris, meet the best defensive front in the AFC West.
Big news developed for both the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders on Saturday. U-T San Diego reported that Harris said he has been told he will start at Oakland on Sept. 10 on ESPN’S “Monday Night Football.”
Starting left tackle Jared Gaither has been out virtually all of training camp with back issues. Don’t be surprised if Gaither is out beyond the Oakland game. San Diego coach Norv Turner said Gaither hasn’t made any progress. Harris has been chosen to start over any existing San Diego veterans or potential newcomers.
Harris, an undrafted rookie free agent from UCLA, has started all of the preseason. Starting in the preseason and playing against Oakland’s’ terrific defensive line in the season opener are two different things.
San Diego has to be concerned that a rookie free agent is in charge of Philip Rivers' blindside in that game. The Chargers are very beat up going into this game with starting running back Ryan Mathews questionable at best and receiver Vincent Brown out a couple of months with a broken ankle.
But the Gaither injury is the biggest situation. Harris has been OK this summer, but he is an undrafted fee agent. He can’t be expected to be great against Oakland.
The Chargers will likely use multiple tight end sets and do all they can to survive this game. Still, the Chargers have yet to make a roster move for a tackle, so they must have some faith in Harris. Expect Oakland to be ultra aggressive in this game in an attempt to take advantage of Harris’ presence.
Meanwhile, U-T San Diego is reporting the Chargers are adding seven players to the practice squad. They are: Edwin Baker, Charlie Bryant, Greg Gatson, Logan Harrell, Damik Scafe, Mike Willie and former San Francisco and Stanford receiver Chris Owusu.