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Pair of Unheralded TEs Stepping into the Spotlight

The Chargers continue Phase 2 workouts as the rookies and veterans practice side by side.

It's been an offseason of change for the Bolts when it comes to the tight end position.

A lot has been said about Hunter Henry's ascension and Virgil Green's acquisition; however, odds are you haven't heard much about Sean Culkin or Braedon Bowman.

That's all about to change.

After all, the Bolts are high on the pair of unheralded tight ends who're about to step into the spotlight.

Just listen to what Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt had to say about the pair who spent last season honing their skills on the practice field.

"That's such a hard position to find guys and develop guys there," he said.  "So when you find guys that get better in practice, and it's showing up against our defense in some of those look-team things, you get excited about it. Now the next step for them is can they do it in our offensive scheme? Can they show up and make those kinds of plays? Not when it's against the defense in practice, when we're really competing against our guys."

The Chargers are about to find out.

Fans are likely more familiar with Culkin, who parlayed an impressive training camp and preseason into a spot on the active roster.  However, he was active for only two games in 2017, seeing sparse playing time in the season opener and finale.

"Obviously, we liked Sean because he made our team and played in the first game as rookie last year," Whiz noted. "And for an undrafted rookie to play in that first game, that was a tall order."

A hulking 6-5, 225-pound specimen, the 24-year old Culkin is known for his prowess as a physical blocker.  However, he's also come a long way as a receiving option. Culkin caught only 61 passes for two touchdowns in 48 career games, yet he hauled in nine receptions for 77 yards in four preseason games last summer.  His nine catches were tied for the second-most on the team.

Thus, it's easy to see why the Chargers think he can handle a bigger role in 2018.

Still, Culkin knows he needs to prove himself to capitalize on the opportunity.

"I want show them I'm able to be a reliable target in the pass game, but that I can also run power and face them up at the line," he said.  "And that I can also go back there at fullback if they need me.  I have a lot to prove. I want to get every single person in this building to trust me and that I can go out and perform."

To that end, Culkin focused on one area for improvement over the past few months.

"Every year you want to get faster," he said.  "Whether that's through acceleration, working with coaches through speed work or agility wise, that's been (a focal point). And also being in the weight room every day trying to get stronger."

Meanwhile, Bowman spent the majority of last season on the team's practice squad after the Bolts signed him in early September.  The 6-2, 240-pounder appeared in three games for the New York Jets in 2016 before injuring his ACL.  He spent most of last offseason with the Saints, with the Chargers getting an up-close look at him during a pair of joint practices against New Orleans during training camp at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. 

After a year honing his skills behind the scenes, fans will get their first look at Bowman this summer.

So, what can they expect?

"I'm someone who will go out there and compete whether it's in the passing game or the run game," he explained.  "I feel like I bring everything to special teams in all four phases.  I'm just someone who can help the team win in any way."

Bowman is well aware of the fortuitous position he now finds himself in this offseason.

Having had a taste of NFL action before his ACL injury, he's determined to make the most of it.

"I think it's a great opportunity," he said.  "This is the first offseason in a few years that I've been able to train instead of rehabbing something that was injured.  My body feels great.  I feel faster, stronger and ready to go. It wasn't frustrating, but just part of the process.  Now that I'm ready to go, I'm excited for the season."

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