Chargers getting help on defensive line, but still searching for answers at kicker
Corey Liuget rejoined the Chargers on Monday, his four-game suspension over but not completely in his past.
The veteran defensive tackle acknowledged he continues to process what he has been through.
“I still haven’t put it behind me,” Liuget said. “It’s definitely an emotional deal. At this point right now, I just have to focus in on game No. 5 and try to help us get this third win.”
He was suspended in March for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. In a lawsuit against his former trainer, Ian Danney, Liuget contends Danney injected him with a substance banned by the league without his knowledge.
During his time away from the team, Liuget said he spoke with young people, including those in a juvenile facility, about dealing with difficult circumstances and seizing opportunities.
“I just gotta be careful who I hire and who I trust,” he said. “I do love this game of football. To be messed up like that … that’s why I wanted to share my story with kids.”
Liuget, who has spent his entire eight-year career with the Chargers, had started 100 of the 112 previous games. He is expected to play Sunday against Oakland at StubHub Center.
“Corey’s one of the better run-stoppers in this league,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “When he was in there in the preseason, that front seven looked a lot better. So it’s going to be nice having him back.”
White out after ‘minor surgery’
Rookie linebacker Kyzir White will miss Sunday’s game after undergoing what Lynn described as “minor surgery” on his injured knee. He said White shouldn’t be out long.
White missed time in the preseason because of knee problems. He started the first three regular-season games but was out against San Francisco.
Jatavis Brown returned to the starting lineup in White’s absence and is expected to remain there against the Raiders. Lynn said making Brown a starter again isn’t an issue for the defense as much as it is for the special teams.
“He was turning into one of our better special teams players,” Lynn said. “Now he’s got to move back into the starting lineup, so you’ve got to lessen his role there.”
Left tackle Russell Okung (groin) missed the second half Sunday and his status remains uncertain. Lynn said he will be evaluated again this week. After the game, Okung said he did not believe the injury was significant.
Trent Scott, an undrafted rookie out of Grambling State, entered the game at right tackle after Okung went down, with Sam Tevi moving to left tackle. Lynn said the alignment will remain the same.
Tevi replaced Joe Barksdale after he was lost to a knee injury on the Chargers’ third possession of the season. The team hasn’t put a timetable on Barksdale’s return, but Lynn indicated last week he’s progressing well.
Right guard Forrest Lamp (knee) also continues to move closer to playing. He missed all of his rookie year in 2017 and has yet to make his debut. Lynn explained that Lamp is still adjusting to playing on a twice-repaired knee coming off a college career in which his athleticism stood out.
“He’s gaining more confidence in his knee,” Lynn said. “He’s learning to play with it as is. … Sometimes, it takes athletes time to learn how to play with that injury and be productive.”
‘All these kickers can’t be bad’
Three missed kicks Sunday have the Chargers assessing not only Caleb Sturgis but also long snapper Mike Windt and holder Drew Kaser.
“We’ve had a lot of kickers come through here,” Lynn said. “But we have other guys that had been here the whole time. So now, we gotta look at the whole entire process. All these kickers can’t be bad.”
Windt has been with the Chargers since 2010 and Kaser, the team’s punter, since 2016.
Sturgis, who is in his sixth NFL season, signed with the team in March. Through four games he has missed three extra points and two field goals.
Last year the Chargers used four kickers because of ineffectiveness and injury.
“We studied Caleb over the offseason,” Lynn said. “In critical kicks, he was like the No. 1 kicker out there. He didn’t just get bad all of a sudden.”
Lynn did not rule out bringing in kicking candidates this week to try out.
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