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D.J. Fluker Shakes Off Early Mistakes to Impress
Getting a little redemption meant a lot to D.J. Fluker – and he let every player on the field know it.
Fluker cheered like no other Chargers player when Fozzy Whitaker cut to his right and grinded for the team’s first touchdown. It was the perfect block on the right play – and Fluker executed it flawlessly.
That doesn’t mean Fluker was perfect in his second NFL game. But if he can rebound from the rookie mistakes he’s bound to make, Chargers fans will cheer louder than Fluker did tonight throughout 2013.
The 11th overall pick of the 2013 draft didn’t have an ideal start to the game. On second-and-five on the Chargers’ 23-yard line, Fluker surrendered a sack to Bears defensive end Corey Wooton.
Still, impressive for a rookie, Fluker never hung his head over the slip-up. On the Chargers’ opening drive of the second quarter, the 339-pound rookie was the first to drop in his stance when Rivers switched to a quick-count. When Rivers hurried his team back to the line, Fluker was already prepared to run block when Mathews ran his way.
Those two running plays marked the turning point. From that point on, no Bears bested Fluker.
It started on a double-team block on Bears tackle Corvey Irvin. Fluker and right guard Jeromey Clary jointly steamrolled their assignment, helping Fozzy Whittaker run for a gain of five.
Fluker shined on his own two plays later. He stuck with a rushing linebacker long enough for Keenan Allen to develop his route 18-yards away – and for Charlie Whitehurst to pass Allen’s way on the long pass.
The best block was saved for last. On the final play of the drive, Fluker rammed into Irvin, then quickly detached and engaged linebacker Jon Bostic. And as if it were Alabama-Florida all over again, Fluker won the matchup in style – by flinging Bostic backward and nearly off his feet.
Fluker’s handiwork gashed open a hole that was too big for Whittaker to miss. The back sidestepped a battered Bostic and scored the Chargers’ first touchdown of the game.
Fluker’s run blocking was expected. His pass blocking was surprisingly dominant. Both will be on display when the Chargers watch tape of Thursday’s game.
“You don’t find that many guys that can do that,” remarked ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer. But it seems the Chargers have found one such player, and D.J. Fluker is only getting better.