Welcome to Part 5 of our 2022 positional recaps, a series that will run through the next few weeks and highlight all 10 Chargers position groups. We'll focus on key stats, big moments and look ahead to the 2023 season.
The Chargers used six different starting combinations along the offensive line in 2022.
That's probably a few more than the Bolts planned on using, but it highlights the constant churn the group faced up front.
The movement started early, as Corey Linsley missed Week 3 … the same game the Bolts eventually ended up losing Pro-Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater for the season with a torn biceps.
The only two offensive linemen to play in all 17 games this season were guards Matt Feiler and Zion Johnson. No other lineman played at least 85 percent of offensive snaps.
The shuffling led to some uneven performances in multiple phases, as Justin Herbert was sacked 38 times, his highest total in three seasons. And the Chargers rushing attack never quite found a rhythm all season.
But there were bright spots, too.
Feiler was durable and dependable, and Linsley was once again one of the league's best centers when healthy.
A pair of rookies — Johnson and Jamaree Salyer — also stood out. Salyer took over for Slater and started at left tackle from Week 4 on, drawing consistent praise from teammates and coaches.
Right tackle Trey Pipkins III showed tremendous toughness, while missing just three games after sustaining a knee injury in Week 5.
Will Clapp (center) and Foster Sarell (right tackle) were called upon to play in and start multiple games this season when injuries popped up.
Linsley assessed the overall group after the season was over.
"I think we can play better. Game-in, game-out … we had our great days and our not-so-great days," Linsley said. "That's something we did our best to work on all year. We had guys in and out and it was awesome to see them step up.
"But overall, with the culture of our room, I feel like we're continuing to grow," Linsley added. "I feel like a lot of guys made enormous improvements in who they are as players. Just got to keep building on that."
Heading into 2023, this unit feels like it has the potential to take a big step forward in front of Herbert, but staying healthy will be a key factor.
Take a look back at some of the best Chargers photos in monochrome from the 2022 season
According to Pro Football Focus, Salyer was tied for 19th among all offensive tackles who played at least 800 snaps with a pass-blocking grade of 76.4. Salyer was the No. 1 rookie in those rankings, as well.
The unit the Bolts used for the majority of the season — Salyer, Feiler, Linsley, Johnson and Pipkins — started 10 games together.
But perhaps their best performance came at the end of the year when they shined in a Week 17 home win over the Rams.
The group didn't allow a sack (one of three times that happened all season), as the Chargers put up 31 points and 431 yards of offense.
They also paved the way for 192 rushing yards, the second-highest total of the season.
Played in 17 games (17 starts); played 1,189 total snaps (99.8 percent)
Played in 17 games (17 starts); played 1,184 total snaps (99.3 percent)
Played in 17 games (14 starts); played 989 total snaps (83 percent)
Trey Pipkins III
Played in 14 games (14 starts); played 898 total snaps (75.3 percent)
Played in 14 games (14 starts); played 858 total snaps (72 percent)
Played in 17 games (three starts); played 333 total snaps (28 percent)
Played in seven games (three starts); played 250 total snaps (21 percent)
Played in three games (three starts); played 175 total snaps (14.7 percent)
Played in 12 games; played 85 total snaps (7.1 percent)
Played in 12 games; played 18 total snaps (1.5 percent)
2 Questions for 2023
1. How does Slater look in 2023?
The left tackle was phenomenal as a rookie in 2021, earning Second-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. He was stout again to begin the 2022 season but was lost for the year in Week 3.
Even so, Slater remains an elite player and franchise cornerstone heading into his third season.
Health-wise, Slater said he was on track to play if the Chargers had advanced past the Wild Card round of the playoffs. And he said he was near 100 percent, which is a great development.
"Thankfully, I had a chance to come back at the end. For me, that's big knowing that I was ready to come back," Slater said. "Going forward, that's not an obstacle I have to overcome. I'm recovered."
Slater should hit the offseason program at full speed in a few months and once again take his place among the game's best left tackles in 2023.
2. What do the Bolts do with Salyer?
Slater's return to the starting lineup, of course, brings up the question of what to do with Salyer.
The rookie filled in admirably in Slater's spot, but there's no question about which player starts there in 2023.
So, what are the options with Salyer?
Pipkins is a free agent, so the Chargers could move him to right tackle if that starting spot opens up. They could also look at Salyer at left guard, a spot Feiler occupied but a place Salyer spent most of training camp and the preseason.
Or Salyer might not start at all and could be one of the league's best swing tackles going forward.
Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco was asked about Salyer at his year-end press conference.
"He saved us this year," Telesco said.
He later added: "Jamaree never flinched. He has great poise and balance, and patience at that position. I think a lot of that is because he played it a lot at the college level and played at a pretty high level. He played really efficient football for us at a critical position. As you move into next year, as good as Jamaree played, I feel pretty comfortable that Rashawn Slater will be our left tackle, but we'll figure out what the best role for Jamaree is. It's a negative when a player gets hurt. The one little positive is other players getting an opportunity and now, we know what he can do, rather than thinking he can do something. It will give us some flexibility. Do we see him at a guard or a tackle for next year? I don't know yet, to be honest with you. I'm not sure."
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