Bulaga’s status questionable as Chargers prepare for opener

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Chargers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga’s status for Sunday’s opener against Washington remains questionable as he continues to deal with a hip flexor issue.

Bulaga practiced on Monday after missing last week. A better prognosis on his status could come Wednesday when the first practice report is released.

“It’s just more discomfort than anything. The MRIs are negative,” coach Brandon Staley said. “We’re trying to give him adequate rest and the mobility recovery that he needs so he can go into this game feeling good.”

Bulaga missed six games last season because of various injuries and played every offensive snap in only five. In three of the other five games he had to leave early, the injury happened on Los Angeles’ first offensive series.

The Chargers made their offensive line a priority during the offseason. Bulaga is the only returning starter from a group that had plenty of protection issues last season. They are also facing a Washington squad that was second in the league in total defense and sixth in sacks with 47.

Storm Norton would get the start at right tackle if Bulaga is unable to go. Another option could be moving Matt Feiler from left guard and inserting rookie Brenden Jaimes at guard, but Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi would like to avoid making moves at two positions.

Bulaga appears to be the only injury concern among starters as the Chargers go into a season opener relatively healthy for the first time in ages.

Staley, who will make his NFL head coaching debut on Sunday after being the Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator last season, also thinks his team is ready to go.

“That last practice that we had (last Thursday) was probably the first time that I felt like, ‘OK, now let’s get on with it.’ I know this morning, guys got the rest and now they’re ready for an opponent to prepare for,” Staley said.

NOTES: Cornerback Ryan Smith was placed on injured reserve because of a core muscle injury that kept him sidelined throughout training camp. Cornerback Kemon Hall was signed to take Smith’s spot. … The Chargers will fly to the East Coast on Saturday instead of Friday. Staley said part of it is for health and safety reasons but another is that the Rams had success doing the same thing last season.

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