COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers made it a priority to upgrade their offensive line in free agency. Yet when it came to addressing one of the more important positions on the line, they are looking to one of their own to step up.
Sam Tevi, who has started at right tackle the past two seasons, is moving to left tackle and will be expected to protect either Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert’s blindside. The left tackle spot opened up after Russell Okung was traded to Carolina for right guard Trai Turner.
Tevi played left tackle in college at Utah, but this is the first time in his four seasons in the NFL that he will be primarily on the left side.
“The only difference is changing the feet. You see the defense the same,” Tevi said, explaining the main difference between playing right and left tackle. “The transition has been going good. I’ve been trying to just get my technique down.”
Tevi was one of the few constants on a Chargers offensive line that struggled with injuries and inexperience last season. Okung didn’t return to the lineup until midway through the season due to blood clots and center Mike Pouncey suffered a season-ending neck injury in a Week 5 loss to Denver.
When Okung was out, the Chargers went with Trent Scott and rookie Trey Pipkins at left tackle without much success. Some thought Bryan Bulaga would move to left tackle after he was signed from Green Bay, but he will remain on the right side.
With two new starters and a third switching spots, coach Anthony Lynn has been trying to keep expectations guarded during the first week of padded practices.
“They’re doing fine. The first couple padded practices the defense is usually ahead,” he said. “The line and the offense are starting to play faster and more physical. I am just trying to get them to Week 1 healthy while also trying to evaluate the young guys.”
Tevi allowed eight sacks last season, according to Pro Football Focus, which tied for second most in the AFC among offensive tackles. With the Chargers going from a pocket heavy quarterback in Philip Rivers to the more mobile Taylor, those numbers could go down this season.
“Phil was good at getting back in the pocket and throwing quick. Blocking for Tyrod, he’s the same way at getting it out quickly but the defense has to understand the challenge of facing a mobile quarterback. It’s more of an advantage if anything,” he said.
Without any preseason games, it will be difficult to gauge the line’s cohesion until the scheduled Sept. 13 opener at Cincinnati. It does help going against defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in practice, but not everything is at game speed.
Lynn has been happy with the way everyone is trying to make up for the lack of offseason practices during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been an adjustment for Sam, but he is getting better and I know he is getting the job done,” Lynn said.
Notes: Ingram has practiced the past couple days after being an observer early in the week. Ingram is entering the last year of his contract. … LB Kenneth Murray, one of the team’s two first-round picks, has been out the last three days due to leg soreness. … The Chargers will get their first look at SoFi Stadium on Thursday during a scheduled practice session.
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