From free agency to the draft, the last few months have seen the Chargers take measures to improve a roster that went 12-4 and won a playoff game during the 2018 season.
Sometimes, though, it’s the decisions made in prior offseasons that eventually bear the most fruit; they may just require a touch more patience.
Offensive line coach Pat Meyer said Monday that 2017’s second-round pick, Forrest Lamp, will have "every opportunity” to compete for a starting job in 2019. Lamp, who’s entering the offseason healthy, will initially focus on playing guard, according to Meyer.
“He’ll get reps with the ones,” Meyer said. “We’ll split reps with the ones, split reps with the twos. I’ll flip him [to the] right [and] left side. We’ll compete there and if things work out like I think they will, I think he’ll be fine being inside.”
Dan Feeney and Michael Schofield started every game last season at left and right guard, respectively. Feeney was the only Chargers player to play every offensive snap in 2018. Schofield has shown the ability to play both guard and tackle through his first five seasons as a pro.
Lamp left Western Kentucky as one of the top offensive line prospects entering the 2017 NFL Draft. His rookie season was lost after an ACL injury in training camp, and the recovery process spilled into 2018.
After the Chargers’ playoff loss to New England, General Manager Tom Telesco compared Lamp’s situation to what wide receiver Mike Williams went through with an injury before the start of his rookie year. Williams shined after a healthy offseason in 2018, accounting for 11 total touchdowns – tied for fourth in the NFL among wide receivers.
“Having that full offseason under your belt is big, and that’s what Forrest will have this year,” Telesco said. “Last year, Forrest was rehabbing the whole offseason. … The good thing is he got a ton of snaps in practice this [past] year and got a lot of work, and he looks great.”
Telesco said in January that he expects Lamp to play a big role this upcoming season, something four-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is optimistic about, too. On Monday, Pouncey praised the way Lamp has attacked the process of getting back on the grass. He also referred to him as “the strongest offensive lineman on our football team."
“To see the way that he has come in this offseason, how strong he is, how ready he is to be on the football field, I'm hoping for him,” Pouncey said. “I hope he can go out there and win a starting job and help our football team get to where we want to be."
Pouncey says 2019 Pro Bowl not possible without Meyer
In seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Pouncey had four different offensive line coaches.
The fifth of his NFL career has been Meyer, whom Pouncey credits for his January trip to Orlando.
"Pat's awesome, man,” Pouncey said. “He teaches different techniques. Obviously, he helped me get to the Pro Bowl last year. Without him, it wouldn't have even been possible. But he's great. The guys love him.”
Meyer is entering his third season as the offensive line coach in Los Angeles. In his first with the Chargers, the team allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL with 17. As far as technique, Pouncey explained how Meyer focuses more on leverage rather than “firing off the football.”
"It worked for me last year,” he said. “I had a heck of a year. I really enjoy him as my offensive line coach."
Chargers at Dolphins circled on Pouncey’s schedule
Though the personnel in Miami is markedly different than it was in 2017, L.A.’s Week 4 trip to South Beach will still hold major meaning to Pouncey.
The Florida native played the first 93 games of his NFL career with the Dolphins. Having family in the area only magnifies the significance of September 29.
“It's a big game for me, I'm not going to lie,” he said. “I'm not one of those guys that says I'm not looking forward to it. That's one of the games that I'm looking forward to."
Mike will also face his brother Maurkice for a second straight season when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Los Angeles in Week 6 for “Sunday Night Football.”