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Replacing a great one
SAN DIEGO – The Bolts must fill the void created by left guard Kris Dielman’s retirement.
Considering Dielman made the Pro Bowl from 2007-10, it’s no small task.
The Chargers got a trial run last season as Tyronne Green started eight of the final 10 games at left guard, shaking off a hand injury that forced him out in Weeks 11 and 12.
Green, flanked by left tackle Jared Gaither and center Nick Hardwick the last five games, impressed Head Coach Norv Turner and played a role in the offensive line’s dominant effort that correlated with a 4-1 stretch of football.
“I was really excited with the way Tyronne Green played in the last part of the season,” Turner said. “That’s when our line kind of re-established itself.”
Offensive coordinator Hal Hunter expects Brandyn Dombrowski to compete for the spot as well. The news there is that Dombrowski, who spent portions of the last two seasons (seven starts) filling in for Marcus McNeill at left tackle, will move back to guard.
“We’re going to get the left guard situated and get it solved so that the guys get used to playing with each other,” Hunter said. “We probably won’t get it solved until they get a chance to play some preseason games, but going into the season we’ll have it solved.
“The nice thing about it is we’ve got two people that are going to compete for that left guard position. (They) both know they’re going to (compete) and both have a lot of NFL playing experience underneath their belt. Whoever ends up winning that position, it’s not like we’re going to be starting a rookie there.”
The team’s decision to retain Turner, and with him Hunter and Mike Sullivan, means the offensive line still gets its direction from respected coaches with a productive history.
All those factors may mitigate the blow of losing Dielman, widely viewed as the team’s best offensive lineman the last several seasons.
Both Green and Dombrowski have played the offensive lineman’s version of pinball in San Diego.
Green has practiced at right guard, center, left guard and left tackle during his three-year Chargers career. Dombrowski has played right guard, right tackle and left tackle.
“Tyronne Green is progressing. Part of his issue is he’s never really had a chance to concentrate on one position,” Hunter said. “The same thing with Brandyn Dombrowski.”
Both know where they’re preparing to play in 2012, a benefit, along with an entire offseason working alongside Gaither and Hardwick.
“These upcoming months are huge working through the OTAs and minicamps,” Hardwick said.
“We just have to become really tight. Obviously Kris and I spent a ton of years together working that out, and we can get there. I think Ty and I can get there quick, or whatever the coaches’ plans are. We can get there in a hurry, but it has to be a concerted effort.”