Chargers' Brandon Mebane has 'nothing to prove' vs. Seahawks, his former team

Chargers' Brandon Mebane has 'nothing to prove' vs. Seahawks, his former team
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers surveys the Rams' defense before receiving a snap during a joint practice between the two L.A. teams at UC Irvine on Aug. 9. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Nose tackle Brandon Mebane has no vendetta against the Seattle Seahawks and no desire to use Sunday's preseason opener against them to show they made a mistake letting him go two winters ago.

Even if he did, Mebane, a starter on dominant defenses that led the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014, wouldn't have a platform large enough to make his case.


Most Chargers starters are expected to play a few series of downs in the 5 p.m. game at StubHub Center, so Mebane's work day — his first against his former team — will probably end in the first quarter.

"I'm not hyped up or putting too much on it — it's just a normal football game," Mebane, 32, said after Friday's light workout in Costa Mesa. "It will be good to see a lot of those dudes I haven't seen in a while. It will be interesting to play them. But I have nothing personal against them, nothing to prove.

"A lot of people don't know that I could have gone back there. It wasn't that they didn't want me anymore. I wanted to leave. You know, one player is never gonna beat an NFL franchise. They're gonna make their money at the end of the day. … It definitely isn't about me."

The 6-foot-1, 311-pound Mebane — a Los Angeles native who starred at Crenshaw High School and Cal — had 386 tackles, 15.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 153 games (143 of them starts) for Seattle from 2007-2015.

But his playing time slipped in 2015, when he had 24 tackles and 1.5 sacks, and he was 31 when his contract expired. The Seahawks wanted Mebane back, but not at the price the Chargers were willing to pay.

Mebane signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal with San Diego and started 10 games in 2016, recording 35 tackles and one sack before suffering a season-ending biceps injury on Nov. 13 against Miami.

The move to Los Angeles this season will give Mebane a chance to do something he hasn't done since his senior season at Crenshaw in 2002: Win a game on Los Angeles turf. In his four years at Cal, the Bears lost twice at UCLA (2003, 2005) and twice at USC (2004, 2006).

Mebane couldn't remember his last win in L.A. "I think it was against Manual Arts or somebody," he said. For the record, it was a 19-18 victory over Dorsey on Nov. 15, 2002, in which Crenshaw scored the winning touchdown with 45 seconds left.

Crenshaw's rally from a 12-0 halftime deficit began with a one-yard touchdown run by a stout defensive lineman who entered games at fullback in goal-line situations: Brandon Mebane.

Hold the line
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers takes off with the ball during a joint practice with the Rams at UC Irvine on Aug. 9.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers takes off with the ball during a joint practice with the Rams at UC Irvine on Aug. 9. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Sunday's game will give the revamped offensive line a chance to build on the chemistry it will need to protect quarterback Philip Rivers and open running lanes for Melvin Gordon.

Left tackle King Dunlap, left guard Orlando Franklin and right guard D.J. Fluker are gone from last season. The Chargers signed free-agent left tackle Russell Okung to a four-year, $53 million contract, $25 million of which is guaranteed.

Filling out the starting line are center Spencer Pulley, left guard Matt Slauson, right guard Kenny Wiggins (who replaced the injured Forrest Lamp) and right tackle Joe Barksdale.

"Offensive line is hard, because it's five guys with one collective goal," said the 6-5, 310-pound Okung, who played for Seattle (2010-2016) and Denver (2016). "You have to be in sync on almost every single play."

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is interested in how linemen communicate and react to various stunts, blitzes and styles of rushers at game speed.


"How are they gonna work together when they're in double teams or on their single blocks?" Whisenhunt said. "How are they gonna hold up one on one? How are they gonna be able to communicate if we see a different look?

"We're gonna see something in this game that we haven't prepared for, because we're not game-planning for these guys, we haven't studied a lot of film on them. So a big part of it will be, how do they adjust to that?"

Nuts and bolts

The Chargers will be thin at tight end against Seattle. Reserves Jeff Cumberland (sore legs) and Sean McGrath (hyperextended left knee) sat out Friday's practice and are doubtful for Sunday. Undrafted rookie Sean Culkin, who got some reps with the first team Friday, and recently signed Mike Estes could see plenty of action Sunday behind starters Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. The team also added depth Friday night by signing Matt Weiser, a 6-5, 241-pound tight end who played college ball at Buffalo from 2012 to 2015. Safety Adrian McDonald was waived to create a roster spot… Jason Verrett continues to increase his reps as he returns from knee surgery, but defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said the cornerback won't play Sunday.

Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna