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Chargers Mailbag: Rookie Salyer to Start at Left Tackle for Chargers


Welcome to the Chargers Mailbag! I'm Senior Writer Eric Smith, and I answer questions from the Bolt Fam each and every week.

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Off we go…

Questions about the offensive line were pretty much the sole focus from fans this week, so we'll address that entire unit below.

To start, the Chargers are going to roll with rookie Jamaree Salyer at left tackle going forward. Norton will remain in the swing tackle role he has occupied since the beginning of the season.

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley made that announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Staley said Monday and reiterated Wednesday that the Bolts preferred not to shuffle up the unit too much, so the addition of Salyer means just one new player will join the lineup rather than having multiple players move around.

"What we're trying to do is keep the sides the same, trying to keep continuity of right side and left side," Staley said. "We're going to attack this week with Jamaree Salyer going into this game.

"How that expresses itself, and who is playing where, we're going to determine that throughout the week, but we're going to make sure that we go through this game with the plan of Jamaree playing on the left side," Staley added.

It appears the Chargers will go with, from left to right, Salyer, Matt Feiler, Corey Linsley, Zion Johnson and Trey Pipkins III against the Texans. That is assuming Linsley is healthy enough to play, but he did return to practice Wednesday.

So, let's dive into Salyer, who is in line to make his NFL debut Sunday in Houston. He said he found out earlier this week what the plan was after chatting with Chargers offensive line coach Brendan Nugent.

"Coach pulled me aside on Monday, kinda told me that they were thinking about it [and] felt like it was a good option," Salyer said. "They asked me how I felt about it and I said I felt good.

"I've played there in college so I'm excited about the opportunity," Salyer added.

The last part of that quote is an important one, as Salyer saw plenty of snaps at left tackle while starring at Georgia. He started nine games there in 2020, and made 11 more starts at left tackle in 2021 while helping the Bulldogs win a national title.

I asked him Wednesday in the locker room about his comfort level at that spot, especially considering he was mostly at guard in training camp and preseason games.

"Pretty comfortable," Salyer said. "Obviously, I didn't take a lot of reps there in training camp and up to this point, but it kind of feels like going back home to me.

"Doing the walk throughs, kind of getting in the swing of things. I feel pretty comfortable," Salyer added.

Salyer noted that he's had to change positions before on the fly, as he moved from tackle to guard against Alabama in the national title game against Alabama last season. But he said he's gotten some recent work at tackle in practices, and feels confident about now making the full-time switch from guard to tackle.

"Honestly, I've had to do it before on a big stage, obviously everybody knows about that," Salyer said. "Up to this point, I've kind of been doing that in practice even before I got to practice even before I got to the Chargers.

"For me, it's kind of just something that is normal for me," Salyer added. "You never know what injuries are going to happen, who's going to go down and I've kind of always been the swing guy on every team I've been on so I'm excited for the opportunity. Obviously, this is a much bigger stage, but I'm ready to go."

For what it's worth, teammates and coaches have praised Salyer from the moment he arrived in the spring, and that continued Wednesday.

"He played [left tackle] in college, he's not unfamiliar with it. I think the biggest thing, just talking to guys that have made the transition left to right, you know it's different," Linsley said. "People think O-lineman are just plug and play, but it's different especially at left tackle.

"The fact that he played [left tackle] in college I think takes a huge amount of adjustment off of it, Linsley added.

Staley said: "Jamaree has done a really good job during training camp. He has stayed ready. He's going to be ready for his opportunity."

As for Norton not being the left tackle after he filled in for Rashawn Slater on Sunday, Staley said this was more about Salyer earning the chance to play from recent work.

"So far, this year, Jamaree is earning this opportunity," Staley said. "Coming out of training camp, that was what we felt had happened, and then Storm had an opportunity to play.

"Now, through three games, we feel that we have some evidence that we have to make a change," Staley added. "That's what we're doing, we're making a change to put the best five guys, that we feel like, give us a chance. We're excited about this."

Nobody is going to ask Salyer to be Slater, who is among the best offensive tackles in the league regardless of his age.

Salyer said he will now lean on Slater and others as he gets a big chance to show what he can do starting Sunday in Houston.

"It's kind of been like a mentorship role. He's a young guy coming in, a guy I can talk to about rookie stuff," Salyer said of Slater. 'He knew it better than anybody else so just talking to him about that and as we kind of progressed and getting this news, he's pulled me aside, watched some tape, look at things, talk through some things. He's definitely been there along the way."

Salyer later added: "[I'm] just trying to be consistent, showing up and being consistent every single day. Being a tough player when I get a chance to, go play physical, play fast. That's what I do every single day, so they felt like I earned it so I'm looking to capitalize on everything."

That will do it for this week.

As always, you can find me on Twitter at @EricLSmith and submit your questions for the Chargers Mailbag.

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