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Friday, November 15, 2013
Dunlap out; Fluker to start at left tackle

By Eric D. Williams

SAN DIEGO -- The Chargers' starting left tackle for most of the season, King Dunlap has been an observer at practice this week after suffering a neck strain against Denver.

That will continue through this weekend, as Dunlap has been ruled out for Sunday's game at Miami.

Dunlap's replacement, rookie D.J. Fluker, was absent from Friday's practice due to an unspecified illness. But according to San Diego coach Mike McCoy, Fluker is expected to play and start at left tackle for the Chargers. He's listed as probable.

Fluker has mainly played right tackle for San Diego, but has been used on the left side in a pinch against Jacksonville and Denver when Dunlap was injured.

San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said Fluker's permanent spot on the offensive line remains open for discussion.

"D.J. has played well for us," Whisenhunt said. "And wherever that position is going to be in the future helping us -- that's where he's going to play. So I don't think we really look at him especially at one position or another.

"He's started at right tackle. That's a position that's normal for him. He's played left tackle in two games. He's done a good job there. So if he has to play left tackle, then he'll play left tackle."

With Dunlap out, that means the Chargers will use their sixth different starting offensive line combination this season.

Center Nick Hardwick (neck), fullback Le'Ron McClain (ankle) and defensive back Jahleel Addae (ankle) returned to practice on Friday. Those three, along with Eddie Royal (toe) and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, are listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

"Guys flew around with a lot of energy and were excited to be out there," Hardwick said. "We're ready to go to Miami, put a good performance together and come back with a win."

Royal did not practice for a fifth straight week, but is expected to be healthy enough to play against the Dolphins.

Defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring), offensive lineman Mike Remmers (ankle), guard Chad Rinehart (toe) and linebacker Manti Te'o (elbow) all practiced and are probable for Sunday.

San Diego has a couple of inexperienced options behind Fluker. Reserve offensive linemen Remmers and Nick Becton have not started an NFL game.

The Chargers also have two guys they can promote from the practice squad to the active roster in Andrew Tiller and Kenny Wiggins.

Tiller was a sixth-round draft selection by New Orleans in 2012, spending his rookie season with the Saints after suffering a triceps injury during training camp and spending the year on the injured reserve list. He was cut by New Orleans during training camp this year, and was added to San Diego's practice squad in September. At 6-5 and 326 pounds, Tiller was a two-year starter at Syracuse.

Wiggins was signed to San Diego's practice squad at the end of training camp after being released during final roster cuts from San Francisco. At 6-6 and 315 pounds, the Fresno State product was an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011, and went to training camp with San Francisco.

Wiggins was cut at the end of training camp, but spent the final eight weeks of the 2011 season on Baltimore's practice squad. Wiggins was re-signed by San Francisco in 2012, and spent the entire season on the team's practice squad.

Wiggins was released by the 49ers at the end of this year's training camp, and signed to San Diego's practice squad in September.