NFL Nation: King Dunlap

PHILADELPHIA – It makes for interesting discussion -- Manning vs. Brady, Kaepernick vs. Wilson -- but if you really want to know who will win Sunday's championship games, count the former Eagles.

Baseball has that thing about ex-Cubs never winning the World Series. The NFL playoffs, at least this offseason, have the Eagles jinx.

[+] EnlargeHightower
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaWhat's a sure way to predict who won't advance in the playoffs? Just count the number of former Eagles -- such as the Colts' Stanley Havili (39) -- on the rosters.
It's simple enough. Whichever team has the most significant connection to the Eagles will lose. The formula has worked for six of the seven postseason games for which it was applicable.

Start with the first round. The Eagles obviously have the most significant Eagles connection of all. They lost to the Saints. Kansas City, coached by former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, lost to Indianapolis.

San Franscisco/Green Bay really is a push. Neither team has an ex-Eagle on its roster. But each has the brother of a current Eagle: San Francisco's Garrett Celek and Green Bay's Clay Matthews. The ex-Eagles jinx did not apply here.

The exception was San Diego's victory over Cincinnati. The Chargers have a handful of ex-Eagles, including tackle King Dunlap and running back Ronnie Brown. Apparently, the ex-Eagles jinx isn't as powerful as the Andy Dalton jinx.

In the second round, the jinx was a perfect four-for-four. Carolina, with ex-Eagles assistants Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott coaching a defense with Quintin Mikell at safety, lost at home to the Eagles-free 49ers. The Chargers' ex-Eagles caught up to them in a loss to Denver (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie notwithstanding).

The Saints/Seahawks game was another close one. The Saints have Brodrick Bunkley, the Seahawks have Chris Clemons. Bunkley was a first-round pick and spent more time in Philadelphia. The Saints lost.

It was ex-Eagle Stanley Havili who bobbled a pass into the arms of a defender in the Colts' loss to New England. As if he needed to prove his genius one more time, Patriots coach Bill Belichick kept his only former Eagle, Isaac Sopoaga, on the inactive list.

If Belichick does the same Sunday, the Patriots will have the edge over the Rodgers-Cromartie laden Broncos.

In the NFC, the 49ers remain Eagles-free. Clemons, who spent two seasons in Philadelphia, puts the jinx squarely on the Seahawks.

If form holds, then, the 49ers will face the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and the outcome may depend on whether Sopoaga plays.

Preposterous, you say? About as preposterous as a franchise failing to win a single Super Bowl in the 48-year history of the game.

King Dunlap probable vs. Giants

December, 6, 2013
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SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers have a chance to start the team's projected starting offensive line for the first time since Week 3 of the regular season against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Dunlap
Left tackle King Dunlap made it through a full week of practice, and is listed as probable on San Diego’s injury report. Dunlap missed the past three games with a neck strain.

If Dunlap starts, rookie D.J. Fluker will move over to his regular spot of right tackle, and Jeromey Clary will kick inside to his regular position of right guard. Rounding out the offensive line would be Chad Rinehart at left guard, replacing second-year pro Johnnie Troutman, and Nick Hardwick at center.

Hardwick, a 10-year veteran, is the only offensive lineman who has not missed a start this season. Hardwick did not practice most of this week because of a neck stinger, but was a full participant at Friday’s practice, and is listed as probable for Sunday.

“We’re just looking for the best group of five that give us the best chance to win,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “They’ve all done a phenomenal job all year of protecting Philip [Rivers], run blocking and just having position flexibility.”

Receiver Eddie Royal (toe/chest) was the only San Diego player that did not practice on Friday. Fluker (ankle) was listed as a limited participant, but is probable for Sunday. Royal and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand) are questionable for Sunday.

Fluker, defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), receiver Lavelle Hawkins (knee) and defensive end Corey Liuget (knee) are all probable for Sunday.

Mathews, Dunlap return to practice

November, 28, 2013
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SAN DIEGO -- Two impact players returned to practice on Thursday for the San Diego Chargers.

Mathews
Running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring) and starting left tackle King Dunlap (neck) both practiced on Thanksgiving Day.

Mathews had to leave last week’s win against Kansas City in the second half because of a lingering hamstring issue he’s been dealing with for the past few weeks. But Mathews is expected to play on Sunday.

Dunlap has not practiced since suffering a neck injury against Washington on Nov. 3. Rookie D.J. Fluker has started the past two games at left tackle in place of Dunlap.

“It’s good to get him out there,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said about Dunlap's return. “Like we’ve said, we try to get all 53 out as soon as we can. They’ve all worked extremely hard at this point in time, so when you have injuries, certain players take it differently. And it’s hard for certain guys to sit out. So it’s good to get him back out there.”

In his fourth season, Mathews is 11th in the NFL in rushing with 721 yards, and is on pace to have his second 1000-yard rushing season.

Mathews is one of five running backs this season with at least three 100-yard rushing games. A group that includes LeSean McCoy (4), Adrian Peterson (4), Eddie Lacy (3), Marshawn Lynch (3) and Alfred Morris (3).

Tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring), center Nick Hardwick (neck), safety Darrell Stuckey (concussion) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe/chest) did not practice for a second straight day.

Linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand) practiced for a second straight day. He was a limited participant, along with Dunlap and Mathews.

Defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), defensive end Corey Liuget (shin) and long snapper Mike Windt (ankle) were full participants for a second straight day.
SAN DIEGO -- Left tackle King Dunlap has suffered two concussions and a neck injury this season, so you can understand if the San Diego Chargers want to make sure he’s fully healthy before letting him take the field with a helmet and shoulder pads again.

Dunlap
“They’re just being a little more cautious with it, with everything [that’s happened],” Dunlap said.

Dunlap missed San Diego’s past two games with a neck strain. Before that, he missed two games earlier this season with concussion issues. Rookie D.J. Fluker has filled in and played solidly for Dunlap at left tackle, but would be better suited to return to his regular position of right tackle.

Dunlap said he’s trying to stay in game shape by running and working out in the weight room with the team’s training staff.

“I ran with Coach Kent [Johnston] today,” Dunlap said. “I just go in there and work out with him by myself, which is pretty rough when you’re the only one. But I just get in there and get with him every day, and that’s what kind of keeps me going.”

San Diego coach Mike McCoy provided no timeline for Dunlap’s return.

“We’re taking it day to day with King,” McCoy said.

Along with Dunlap, five other players did not practice for San Diego on Wednesday. They include tight end Antonio Gates (hamstring), center Nick Hardwick (neck), running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring), safety Darrell Stuckey (concussion) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe/chest).

Gates, Royal, Hardwick and Mathews should be fine and ready for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.

“Some of those guys are resting,” McCoy said. “It’s that time of year. There are a number of guys that we’ve got to get as healthy as possible, and feeling as fresh as possible on Sunday. So there’s certain players that we will do that with for the rest of the year on a consistent basis.”

Linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand) returned to practice for the first time after missing last week’s contest at Kansas City. Johnson was a limited participant.

Defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), defensive end Corey Liuget (shin) and long snapper Mike Windt (ankle) were full participants.

Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram enters his second week of practice. The South Carolina product remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he rehabs from anterior cruciate ligament surgery performed in May.

The Chargers have until Dec. 10 to place Ingram on the 53-man roster or leave him on the reserve PUP list.

“When Melvin’s ready to be out there we’ll put him out there,” McCoy said. “He’s getting better every day.”
SAN DIEGO -- Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram said he had a good week of practice, but will not be added to his team’s active roster for the San Diego Chargers" target="_blank">San Diego Chargers' game at Kansas City.

Ingram
“I’m not playing this week,” Ingram said. “They’ve been through a lot more stuff than I have. I’ve just been through rehab, working out and conditioning stuff. But they’ve been through training camp and almost three-fourths of a season. So I just need to work on everything, and I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Ingram remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but practiced for the first time this week, moving fluidly and showing some explosion through individual drills during the early portions of practice.

However, Ingram still is a little over six months out from having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Chargers have until Dec. 10 to add Ingram to the active roster, or place him on the reserve PUP list for the remainder of the regular season.

“Until you practice enough and do certain things, you’re not going to be in football shape,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “You’ve got to get out there and put the pads on, and do things a certain way before you get in football shape. He’s worked extremely hard, and he’s in good shape right now.”

McCoy on if Ingram will play this season: “I think that he’s got a very good chance. But it’s also something where we’ve got to each day pick it up for him, and see how his knee responds. He’s done a great job with it these last three days. So we’ll take it week by week and see how he feels.”

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand), left tackle King Dunlap (neck) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice on Friday. Dunlap is listed as out. Johnson is doubtful, and Royal is questionable.

McCoy said that Johnson played with a similar hand injury while with the Ravens. Johnson's left hand is in a soft cast after having surgery to fix the issue on Monday. Johnson's already missed three games this season due to a lingering hamstring issue.

“I’m always hopeful, yeah,” said Johnson, when asked about the prospect of playing this week. “Any injury slows you down and limits you, but everybody’s dealing with stuff, especially at this point in the season.

“This is a very important game for us and everybody needs to carry their weight. I’ve struggled with that this year with all my injuries. That’s not something new, but that’s something you’ve got to deal with.”

San Diego’s nickel cornerback Johnny Patrick (concussion) was cleared to practice on Friday after sitting out most of the week, and was a full participant. Patrick is questionable for Sunday’s game.

With Johnson and Ingram likely out, the Chargers likely will go with Thomas Keiser and Tourek Williams at outside linebacker, with Reggie Walker and Adrian Robinson serving as backups.

Center Nick Hardwick (neck), receiver Vincent Brown (shoulder), safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), receiver Keenan Allen (knee), running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring), defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe) and linebacker Manti Te'o (elbow) were full participants and are probable.

OLB Jarret Johnson still out

November, 13, 2013
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SAN DIEGO -- The line to the training room is getting longer for the San Diego Chargers.

Johnson
Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who missed last week’s game against Denver with a lingering hamstring injury, remains out. Also not participating in the early portion of Wednesday’s practice were fullback Le'Ron McClain (ankle), left tackle King Dunlap (head/neck) and center Nick Hardwick (neck stinger).

With Dunlap and Hardwick unavailable, the starting offensive line working together during individual drills included D.J. Fluker at left tackle, Johnnie Troutman at left guard, Rich Orhnberger at center, Chad Rinehart at right guard and Jeromey Clary at right tackle.

Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram remains on the physical unable to perform list and was an observer at practice. New addition outside linebacker Adrian Robinson was at practice and is wearing No. 99.

Offensive lineman Mike Remmers also practiced for the first time since suffering an ankle injury against Jacksonville last month.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 7

October, 21, 2013
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A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 24-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers:

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Stephen Morton/AP PhotoWhile the Jacksonville Jaguars' running game averaged 4.6 yards per carry against San Diego, Maurice Jones-Drew only touched the ball 11 times.
Effort problem: For the first time all season, coach Gus Bradley said he saw a lack of effort from his players. That’s disconcerting because that’s usually the first sign of a team that has tuned on its head coach or given up. We won’t know until Sunday’s game against San Francisco in London if that’s the case, but initial thoughts based on what was said in the locker room are that Bradley hasn’t lost his players. Rather, it was likely the players were lulled into a sense of: We’ve improved each of the past two weeks and we’re naturally going to continue that progression. What happens is players forget just how hard they worked or the amount of preparation that went into the improvements. That appears to be what Bradley believes, as well. “The three most dangerous words in the NFL are, 'I’ve got it,' and I think we felt like, ‘We’re making strides. We’ve got this. We’ve just got to go out there and do this,’ and that’s not how it works,” Bradley said.

Pass rush MIA: San Diego lost a pair of left tackles in the first quarter when starter King Dunlap left the game with a concussion and backup Mike Remmers left the game with an ankle injury four plays later. The Chargers, who had only seven active offensive linemen, had to shuffle the lineup, and that should have been the jackpot for the Jaguars’ pass rush. Nope. The Jaguars’ lone sack came on the play in which Dunlap was injured and they didn’t get to Philip Rivers again and only hit him twice more. The lack of pressure was the main reason Rivers completed 22 of 26 passes for 285 yards.

Running game disappears: Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch earlier last week said he wanted to get Maurice Jones-Drew 20 or more touches every game. He had just 11 against the Chargers: nine rushes for 37 yards and two catches for 19. Jones-Drew averaged 4.1 yards per carry, tying his season high (he had 70 yards on 17 carries against St. Louis), and the running game overall averaged 4.6 yards per carry, which was by far the best mark of the season. There really wasn’t a reason to abandon the run, either. The Jaguars were down by 11 points late in the second quarter and never trailed by more than 14 in the third quarter, but Jones-Drew had just three touches in the second half (three carries, one reception). The Jaguars ran the ball a season-low 17 times, including two designed runs for quarterback Chad Henne.

Fighting through: Receivers Justin Blackmon (groin/hamstring) and Cecil Shorts (sprained SC joint near his shoulder) fought through injuries and combined to catch 14 passes for 138 yards. Shorts, however, dropped two potential touchdown passes, but he didn’t blame his injury. “Nothing to do with my shoulder,” he said.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Observed in the locker room after the San Diego Chargers' 24-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Rivers
A reflective Rivers: Philip Rivers talked about becoming the second player in franchise history to eclipse the 30,000-yard passing mark with his effort against Jacksonville. Rivers has 30,023 yards, joining Dan Fouts, who finished his 15-year career as the Chargers all-time passing leader with 43,040 yards. “It’s kind of a ‘wow’ to myself when it hits you,” said Rivers, who received the game ball from coach Mike McCoy in the locker room. “It’s humbling when you hear that. And the first thing that comes to my mind is how many guys are involved in that happening. You don’t throw 30,000 yards to yourself. There’s a lot of guys that have been on the receptions end of it. No. 85 [Antonio Gates] has been on the other end of a lot of them. And then there’s a lot of guys up front that have protected for you to get the ball off.” One of those offensive linemen is longtime center Nick Hardwick. “It’s just a pleasure to work with such a great guy, a great teammate and true friend,” Hardwick said. “He’s the most competitive person I’ve ever been around. It’s a real honor.” Rivers also confirmed that his wife, Tiffany, did not give birth to the couple’s seventh child while he was in Jacksonville.

Still work to do: While players look forward to having some time off during the bye week, players understand there’s more work to do. Defensively, the Chargers have not given up a touchdown in 11 quarters, and did not allow a touchdown in back-to-back games for the first time since the first two weeks of the 2002 season. But, as safety Eric Weddle said, it’s better for players to learn from their mistakes by winning instead of losing. “The games and plays that you learn from help build your identity and who you are,” Weddle said. “So for us to play like we’ve played the last two and a half games is big -- and not reading the press and feeling like we’re all that -- but just staying closed-minded, staying the course and staying focused. It’s really a testament to these guys, the older players getting the young players right and the coaches coaching us up. Look at the guys that we had out there, and we’re playing lights out. It’s exciting, but we have to keep going upwards. We can’t take a step back.”

Last time Fluker played left tackle? Try high school: You can’t blame rookie offensive lineman D.J. Fluker for feeling a little uncomfortable moving over to left tackle in the opening quarter after King Dunlap left the game with his second concussion of the season. Fluker was drafted as San Diego’s long-term answer at right tackle, and had not played left tackle since his high school days in Foley, Ala. “I was a little nervous,” Fluker said. “So I had to kind of calm down, and the coaches just told me to be patient and it will come. And eventually that happened. I got beat a couple times, but I haven’t been over there for so long. Other than that, I think I did OK.” For the most part, San Diego’s offensive line kept Rivers clean, holding Jacksonville to just one sack.
SAN DIEGO -- Chargers middle linebacker Manti Te’o is expected to make his regular-season debut on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Notre Dame product made it through a week of practice as a full participant after missing the first three games due to a foot injury, and is listed as probable on the team’s injury report.

Te'o
However, San Diego coach Mike McCoy stopped short of saying the rookie definitely will play on Sunday.

“He’s had a great week of practice,” McCoy said. “And it’s been great for him to kind of get back out there, and get into the flow of things. So it’s looking good today.”

For his part, Te’o says he’s ready.

“I get to play with my guys, so I’m excited,” Te’o said.

If he plays, one of the questions Te’o will face is how he performs once the opening whistle blows. Conditioning could be an issue. The Chargers attempted to replicate game speed in practice, but things always move a tick quicker once a player is on the field.

“I could go out here and play hoops against these other coaches, but if they’re going to throw me in some live action down there at San Diego State, I think it’s going to be a shock to me, first of all, because I ain’t that good,” joked defensive coordinator John Pagano. “Game speed is always going to be faster than anything else. So that’s something he’s going to adapt to very quickly.”

Fellow linebacker Donald Butler said he’s anxious to see what Te’o can do.

“It means a lot, obviously,” said Butler, who’s also probable for Sunday after practicing fully all week. Butler’s dealing with a groin issue. “They brought him in here to be an impact, and play with me. And we had a good week of practice. So I’m excited to see him go out there to see what he can do.”

While Te’o returns, the Chargers likely will be without three starting offensive linemen when they take the field against a talented Cowboys’ defensive front.

Left tackle King Dunlap (concussion), left guard Chad Rinehart (toe) and right guard Jeromey Clary (clavicle) did not practice all week, leaving their availability in doubt for Sunday.

Dunlap is listed as questionable on the team’s injury report, along with cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring). Rinehart and Clary are listed as doubtful. Center Nick Hardwick (shin) is probable. Receiver Malcolm Floyd (neck) has been ruled out.

With those three out, the Chargers are looking at a projected starting five of Mike Harris at left tackle, Johnnie Troutman at left guard, Hardwick at center, Rich Ohrnberger at right guard and rookie D.J. Fluker at right tackle.

Recent addition Stephen Schilling also could be in the mix at guard. And McCoy also could move a big body like tackles Nick Becton, Kenny Wiggins or Andrew Tiller up from the practice squad.
No matter what five guys line up on Sunday, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said he’ll have his group ready to go.

“Let me say this: they have a good front and are playing well together,” Whisenhunt said, when asked about the Cowboys defensively. “It’s never easy. We have different guys that we’re not exactly sure where it’s going to shake out for Sunday. There’s not much we can do about it. We’re still going to play. We’re still going to kick off at 1pm. We just have to prepare our guys the best we can and know in that situation we’re going to battle. Our guys have done that. They have battled, so that’s what we’re expecting to do on Sunday.”
SAN DIEGO – Even after practice ended, Manti Te’o still wanted more work.

So while teammates exited the field, Te’o focused on form tackling and explosion with a tackling pad.

Te'o
“You guys should get a picture of that,” fellow linebacker Bront Bird told a line of photographers as he walked to the locker room.

Inactive for the first three games due to a foot injury, Te’o was a full participant in practice for the first time since suffering the injury in the team’s first preseason game. He appears ready to play in his first regular-season game on Sunday.

“That’s the goal,” Te’o said. “So once coach [Mike McCoy] gives me that green light, I’ll be ready.”

Te’o said the hardest part has been putting in the work on the practice field during the week, only to have to watch his teammates go out and play on Sundays without him.

“Sundays are the time to have fun,” he said. “You do all your work throughout the week during practice, you get all of your mistakes out and you grind during the week. And Sundays are that celebration at the end. So I finally get to go out there now.”

Right guard Jeromey Clary said he suffered a clavicle injury during the opening quarter against Tennessee, but played through it in part because the Chargers didn’t have anybody else to put in. Left tackle King Dunlap and left guard Chad Rinehart also had left the game with injuries, leaving San Diego with no backup offensive linemen.

“I didn’t feel great,” Clary said. “But I was still able to go, so I finished it out. At times maybe there were things that I couldn’t do as well as I wanted to, and it was evident on my part – I don’t know if anyone else noticed. But I wasn’t happy with what was going on. But it was the best thing to do.”

Clary said he is day-to-day, and he doesn’t know if he’ll play on Sunday.

“I’m going to go home and get some rest,” Clary said. “Hopefully I’ll sleep really good tonight, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Along with Clary, Dunlap (concussion) and Rinehart (toe) did not practice. Center Nick Hardwick (shin) was a limited participant in practice, as was pass-rusher Dwight Freeney (not injury related).

Full participants for the Chargers included Te’o, middle linebacker Donald Butler (groin) and right tackle D.J. Fluker (concussion), who returned to the field after missing last week’s game.

Receiver Malcom Floyd (neck) and cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) also did not practice. After meeting with doctors to evaluate Floyd’s situation on Tuesday, McCoy said the team still is figuring out the right plan of action.

“We have a good idea what’s going on with him,” McCoy said. “But we’ve just got to make sure we’re doing exactly what’s right for him and his situation. And we’re looking for him to get back out here as soon as he can.”

Upon Further Review: Chargers Week 3

September, 23, 2013
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An examination of four hot issues from the San Diego Chargers' 20-17 loss at the Tennessee Titans:

Offensive line woes: San Diego headed into Sunday’s contest already down an offensive lineman when D.J. Fluker was ruled out because of a concussion. Michael Harris played solid in place of Fluker at right tackle. But the Chargers potentially lost two more starters up front against Tennessee. San Diego coach Mike McCoy told reporters after the game left tackle King Dunlap had a concussion. Left guard Chad Rinehart also had a turf toe injury in the second half and did not return. Already thin up front, the Chargers do not have enough quality depth to withstand that many starters being out heading into next week’s Dallas game.

[+] EnlargeRonnie Brown
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiRonnie Brown's touchdown was San Diego's first rushing score in almost a year.
Throw to score, run to win: While the Chargers have one of the top passing offenses in the NFL through three games, they still have trouble consistently running the ball. San Diego’s struggles to move the chains late to close out games can be partially attributed to the team’s inconsistent ground game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Ronnie Brown's 1-yard touchdown run in the second half was San Diego’s first rushing touchdown since Week 5 against the Saints last year. That’s a head-scratching statistic. The Chargers finished with a respectable 102 rushing yards against Tennessee. Ryan Mathews led the way with 58 rushing yards on 16 carries. Third-down back Danny Woodhead added 31 yards on the ground and had seven catches for 55 yards. But the Chargers failed to successfully run the ball when it mattered most -- at the end of the game.

Turnover drought: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says that one of his primary philosophies is “It’s all about the ball” -- meaning take care of it on offense and look for ways to create turnovers on defense. Through the first three games, San Diego has struggled in one of the top indicators on whether a team will win or lose: turnover differential. San Diego has created one turnover through three games, which is among the worst in the league. However, the Chargers did create a sudden-change situation when Tennessee punter Brett Kern fumbled the snap, recovering his own fumble at Tennessee’s 30-yard line. The Chargers turned that opportunity into a Nick Novak 44-yard field goal. The Chargers have a minus-3 turnover differential through three weeks.

Third down struggles: Heading into Sunday’s contest, the Chargers were converting an impressive 58.6 percent of their opportunities on third down, tops in the NFL. But against Tennessee, the Chargers finished just 3-of-9 on third down, including being 0-for-3 in the first half. Just a week ago, San Diego ran a season-high 79 plays against an up-tempo Philadelphia offense. However, that same offense managed just 53 plays compared to 68 plays for Tennessee. The Titans’ ability to effectively run the football also led to a 31:38 to 28:22 edge in time of possession.
Most significant moves: This is a thin roster, so there weren’t a ton of standout cuts here. But there were two veteran names of note to get the axe in the first year of the Tom Telesco-Mike McCoy era in San Diego. Tackle Max Starks and receiver Robert Meachem were cut. Neither were very good this summer. Starks was signed to be the left tackle. But he was beaten out by King Dunlap and then by young Mike Harris to be the swing tackle. Meachem, signed in 2012 by the previous regime to be the No. 1 receiver, was a disaster. The team is thin at receiver and Meachem is guaranteed to make $5 million this season. Still, the Chargers decided to move away from him. Other cuts of note were center David Molk and pass-rusher Thomas Keiser. Both were expected to have roles going into camp.

Going young: This is a team that is rebuilding and the 53-man roster shows it. All six draft picks (cornerback Steve Williams is on the injured reserve) made the team and three undrafted free agents -- safety Jahleel Addae, nose tackle Kwame Geathers and defensive end Brandon Moore -- made the 53-man roster. U-T San Diego reports it’s the first time since 2007 that every draft pick made the team and the first time in 10 years that three undrafted free agents made the roster. Telesco is looking for youth to make an impact. The opportunity is there for these youngsters.

What’s next: This roster is far from set. The Chargers are going to be a work in progress. I expect Telesco will tinker with the bottom of this roster for the next several weeks, maybe even all season. As an executive in Indianapolis, Telesco was known for his eye for talent and for being able to pick up pieces off the street. Thus, this is his time to shine. He has plenty of work to do in San Diego. The Chargers could use depth on the offensive line, at receiver, on the defensive line, at outside linebacker and in the secondary. The team’s special teams was weak in the preseason. That’s a telltale sign of poor depth. So, more players are needed. Among the players San Diego could potentially look at are receivers Lavelle Hawkins, Chris Harper, Russell Shepard, Tavarres King, linemen Ben Ijalana, Fernando Velasco, Jake Scott and Danny Watkins and defensive tackle Drake Nevis.

Players cut: CB Cornelius Brown, OT Nick Becton, DE Frank Beltre, S Sean Cattouse, TE Ben Cotton, CB Marcus Cromartie, LB Phillip Dillard, CB Greg Gatson, CB Logan Harrell, DE Jerrell Harris, RB Michael Hill, CB Josh Johnson, LB Thomas Keiser, WR Robert Meachem, CB William Middleton, LB Dan Molls, WR David Molk, OT Randy Richards, TE David Rolf, G Steve Schilling, OT Max Starks, WR Luke Tasker.
Max Starks was supposed to be the consolation prize at left tackle after the San Diego Chargers couldn’t find a blindside protector for Philip Rivers in free agency or in the draft. However, Starks’ stay in San Diego was short-lived.

In a move that had been expected, the Chargers released the former Pittsburgh starter. He was the biggest name among the 11 players San Diego cut Friday. They still have to trim 11 players to get down to the 53-man limit Saturday.

Starks was never really in the race at left tackle. Fellow free-agent pickup King Dunlap took control of the battle early. In the end, Starks lost his job because he couldn’t hold off second-year player Mike Harris. Harris, an emergency starter at left tackle last season as an undrafted free agent, will be the swing tackle.

Meanwhile, the Jets reportedly have cut defensive tackle Antonio Garay, who had spent the past four seasons with the Chargers. The Chargers don’t have much depth on the defensive line, and Garay knows the San Diego system if the team is looking for a veteran.
It seems the San Diego Chargers’ left tackle job is still open and a familiar face may be getting back in the mix.

U-T San Diego reported second-year player Mike Harris was working with the first unit Saturday. The San Diego offensive line, the team’s biggest question mark, was beaten badly at Chicago on Thursday.

King Dunlap, who had been the starter this summer, was working as a backup right tackle and his competition, Max Starks, was working behind Harris. Harris was the starter at left tackle as an undrafted rookie last season.

The team was trying to upgrade. I still think Dunlap has the inside shot at the job, but this development shows the team still has big concerns at the vital spot.

In other San Diego notes:

Defensive end Corey Liuget, who was banged up at Chicago on Thursday, didn’t practice Saturday. The team said Thursday he was taken out of the game as a precaution. Rookie inside linebacker Manti Te’o continues to be in a walking boot. He was hurt in the preseason opener nine days ago. Last Saturday, San Diego coach Mike McCoy said Te’o, a starter, would be out a week. Nickel cornerback Johnny Patrick is out. He injured his jaw at Chicago. U-T San Diego reports cornerback Steve Williams, a fifth-round draft pick, tore his pectoral muscle at Chicago and he will miss the season.

Malcolm Floyd was working on the side Saturday. He suffered a knee strain Monday. The team is hopeful he can play in Week 1 against Houston.

Random thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 33-28 loss at the Chicago Bears on Thursday night:

There’s no getting around it: San Diego’s first-team offense was awful.

It’s the preseason and I have never been an August alarmist, but the problems that plagued San Diego in Chicago are the same issues that sabotaged the team in recent years. They were the reason why new head coach Mike McCoy was brought in.

San Diego looked good offensively against Seattle last week, but it was a disaster on Thursday night. The first-unit offense committed four turnovers (backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was on the field with the rest of the starters for one of them).

Quarterback Philip Rivers threw an interception and lost a fumble on a sack. Turnovers have been a problem for Rivers the past two years. He also hasn’t gotten much protection. That was an issue again Thursday night as Rivers was sacked three times in three series. That’s ridiculous, but it’s nothing new.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rivers was sacked every 11.9 times he dropped back to pass last season -- the worst rate in the NFL. The pace was much higher in this game. It has to get better or the Chargers and Rivers will falter regardless of the good work McCoy and his staff are doing.
  • Max Starks started over King Dunlap at left tackle. Dunlap started last week and has been the starter most of camp. Dunlap played the second drive and is considered the favorite to win the job. Starks was beaten badly on a play Rivers was sacked and where he lost a fumble on the third drive. The performance could go a long way in giving Dunlap the job.
  • Guard D.J. Fluker, the No. 11 overall draft pick this year, has struggled in pass protection, but has been awesome in run-blocking. That’s the book on him as a rookie.
  • Running back Ryan Mathews looked good. He ran hard and had 45 yards on nine touches. He will be fine if he can finally stay healthy.
  • Whitehurst had a solid night. He completed 9 of 13 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He improved from last week and his performance in Chicago quieted talk that he could be replaced as the backup.
  • Rookie quarterback Brad Sorensen was also good as he went 8-for-14 for 127 yards and a touchdown.
  • The first-team San Diego defense was decent, considering all the turnovers it had to deal with. The unit has some holes, but it’s further along than the offense at this point.
  • The Chargers have been beyond shaky on special teams in two preseason games. They were alarmingly bad in all phases at Chicago. McCoy believes the team will be better in the regular season because of injuries. Guys are playing who won’t be in a few weeks.
  • Rookie receiver Keenan Allen's chances of winning the punt-returning job decreased when he badly muffed a punt and it was recovered by Chicago. Can’t do that, rookie.
  • Running back Danny Woodhead did not play as he comes back from an undisclosed injury. He is expected to make his preseason debut next week.
  • Second-year tight end Ladarius Green had a touchdown catch for the second straight game and he totaled five catches for 78 yards for the night. He is showing he may be a factor this season.
  • Former Green Bay linebacker D.J. Smith continued to look good for San Diego.
  • Key backup cornerback Johnny Patrick was shaken up.
  • Undrafted rookie safety Jahleel Addae continued to make a push to make the 53-man roster.
  • Detroit is reportedly signing defensive tackle Justin Bannan. The Chargers had interest in him earlier this summer and could still use depth on the defensive line.

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