Solving the Bolts O-Line conundrum

San Diego Chargers tackle King Dunlap

What the Chargers offensive line will look like Sunday against the Cleveland Browns is anyone’s guess.

Well, except for head coach Mike McCoy, who was actually somewhat forthcoming after practice on Wednesday on how the unit will look.

Somewhat.

“We have a very good idea,” McCoy said. “But, there will be some decisions, like every week, that will wait as long as possible.”

After realizing he actually answered a reporter’s question, McCoy quickly recovered, restating that the coaching staff has “a good feeling on who has an opportunity, and some other guys who might be a question mark, just like every other week.”

Right, except most other weeks, more than half of the starting offensive line isn’t on the injury report.

Left tackle King Dunlap (concussion), left guard Orlando Franklin (ankle), and center Chris Watt (groin) did not practice Wednesday.

There’s a good chance Trevor Robinson, who finished the Vikings game at center after Watt could no longer continue, will start against Cleveland.

Tuesday’s signing of center J.D. Walton, a former Bronco who worked under McCoy while the two were in Denver, would seem to indicate that Watt’s availability against the Browns is, at the very least, up in the air.

Last week, Watt was listed as probable on Friday’s final injury report. His only “full” practice was Friday, which is practically meaningless, considering it’s generally a walkthrough and nowhere near as strenuous as Wednesday (did not practice) or Thursday’s (limited) practice.

After the game on Monday, Watt admitted that game-day in Minnesota was the first time he really got to test his groin since he hadn’t had any real practice reps during the week.

With Walton now on board, it’s doubtful the Chargers will make the same mistake twice, and risk playing Watt until he’s fully recovered.

Among the linemen likely to play, Robinson is the only sure bet to stay at center.

How the deck gets shuffled everywhere else is the question.

D.J. Fluker, who said he was walking on adrenaline after the Vikings game, surprisingly was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. He’s been the team’s starting right guard all season. Joe Barksdale, the starting right tackle who filled in on the left side after Dunlap went out, was also full go.

On the Chargers final offensive possession against the Vikings, the line looked like this from right to left: tackle Kenny Wiggins, guard Fluker, center Robinson, guard Chris Hairston, and tackle Barksdale.

While Fluker was the only lineman to start and finish the game where he started, he’s also an experienced tackle, having been the team’s starter on the right side since he was drafted in 2013.

Prior to this season, Wiggins had never played a regular offensive snap, He’s bounced around various practice squads since 2011.

Hairston, who’s an experienced tackle, made his football debut at right guard this season, and during the Vikings game, his debut at left guard.

What will the Chargers do Sunday against Cleveland? McCoy has an idea, but seriously, this game of musical chairs up front is a serious conundrum.

 

-Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)

 

Andrew joined Dan Sileo Thursday morning to talk more about what this Chargers offensive line will look like Sunday against the Browns. 

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