Russell Okung has seen the circus; now he'll be ringmaster for Chargers' revamped offensive line

Russell Okung understands if it all looks like a fever dream.

On the left there’s Alex Rodriguez, the former star baseball player and current Jennifer Lopez escort. Behind him is World Wrestling Entertainment’s “The Big Show” — an absolute redwood of a human being. Then there’s celebrity trainer Dodd Romero, a man with panoramic shoulders and a Florida tan.

And then, somehow, it gets stranger.

Next, second from the right, is musician Lenny Kravitz, wearing a sheer tank top. And then, finally, there’s Okung, flexing his biceps and mugging for the camera.

It’s totally absurd.

But inside the Florida gym where that photo was taken Thursday, Okung, the newest member of the Los Angeles Chargers, saw things that reminded him of his new team.

“Honestly, it looks like a little bit of a circus,” Okung said in a phone conversation Friday. “We’re all different. We come from such different backgrounds. To me, that’s the greatest part of the picture, that we can come together and do some work.

“It’s the same thing I see as I’m coming to the Chargers. We’re different but we all have a common goal and a common purpose and that’s to get the best of what we can out of life.”

Okung, 29, was in San Diego, where the Chargers still house their offices, to sign a four-year deal with the team, which hopes he will anchor an offensive line that was in need of repair.

“Russell has been a productive and efficient tackle in this league for a very long time,” Chargers Coach Anthony Lynn said in a statement. “He is an athletic tackle who will bring leadership to our team. We see him being a cornerstone on our offensive line for years to come, and we’re thrilled to add him to the Chargers.”

The admiration is mutual.

Okung said the Chargers’ returning talent — such as quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon — along with Lynn and the new coaching staff were the main reasons he decided to join the team as a free agent.

Okung, a former first-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks, negotiated his own contract with Denver last year, forgoing the use of an agent.

“It’s more something where I wanted to take responsibility or more responsibility for the things I wanted to do,” Okung said. “It was more just something personal for me that made sense for me.”

However, in part because he doesn’t have an agent, rivals around the NFL have accused the Chargers of potentially tampering in their recruitment of Okung, according to a pair of unconfirmed reports.

Regardless, he’ll be with the Chargers next season, and he and the team hope he’ll continue to stay on the field. After being slowed by injuries at times in his career, he managed to play all 16 games with Denver for the first time in his career.

“For me, I had to really kick things into overdrive and really focus on stability and mobility,” Okung said. “I know I can work. I’m really professional about how I go about my job. Learning to rest more, learning to focus on really small things really helped.”

With the Chargers, Okung gets another chance to play with his former Seattle teammate, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.

“It’s great. When I came into the league, Brandon really showed me the ropes and how things go, coming in early in the mornings and learning how to take care of my body. I wish I would’ve listened to him more when I was younger,” Okung said. “He’s always been there to steer me in the right way and show me how things go. I’m really happy that I can play with him again.”

There’s a lot to be happy about for Okung, who signed his big, new contract on the same day he celebrated his engagement. And, whenever he makes it back to that Florida gym, he’ll have a new story to share with the “circus” workout crew.

Chargers fortify defensive line

The Chargers announced a two-year agreement with defensive tackle Damion Square. Square had 31 tackles, including 2 1/2 sacks, in 11 games. He started the final seven games of the season following Mebane’s season-ending biceps injury.

He joins edge rusher Melvin Ingram (franchise tagged), safety Jahleel Addae, quarterback Kellen Clemens and long snapper Mike Windt as unrestricted free agents retained by the team.


UPDATES:

5:30 p.m.: This article has been updated with details of Damion Square’s new contract.

This article was originally published at 3:25 p.m.

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