In his most recent game, Forrest Lamp scored a touchdown. As a left tackle.
He isn’t likely to do that Thursday when the Chargers conclude the preseason at San Francisco, , but that doesn’t mean he’s approaching his return to the field with any less anticipation.
In fact, Lamp can’t wait to get back to being — if he can avoid all the glaring mistakes — an anonymous offensive lineman.
“I’ll for sure be nervous and ready to go,” he said. “I’m just real excited to get that first snap out of the way and get the jitters out.”
Lamp hasn’t appeared in a game since he was a Western Kentucky Hilltopper in the 2016 Boca Raton Bowl.
The game was played on Dec. 20, which means Lamp has celebrated two Christmases since, a notably idle stretch seeing how long it can take for one Christmas to arrive.
“It’s crazy to think I haven’t played in that long,” he said. “That makes me even more excited to get out there.”
The Chargers selected Lamp in the second round of the 2017 draft. Three months later, he suffered a torn right anterior cruciate ligament in training camp and missed the season. He had a second minor procedure on the knee — described by coach Anthony Lynn as a “little clean-up” — in April.
After two weeks of practicing at full speed, he is finally in line to make his first appearance in an NFL game.
The significance of the occasion is something Lamp’s teammates appreciate. When one of them walked past while Lamp was being interviewed Tuesday, he shouted “The Lamp is on!”
“I feel pretty good,” Lamp said. “I feel like I’m getting back to being myself. It will take a little more time, but that’s what these games are for, right?”
Lamp has been used mostly as a right guard since becoming one of the greatest players in Western Kentucky history as a left tackle.
Lynn said Lamp could play anywhere from two series to half the game against the 49ers. He also has indicated that, when healthy, Lamp should challenge for a starting job.
“I’d like to play as much as I can,” Lamp said. “The more reps you get, no matter how bad they are, makes you better overall. That’s what I need right now, as many reps as I can get.”
Now, about that touchdown …
It was a trick play on which Lamp took a lateral and ran for a nine-yard score in a 51-31 Western Kentucky victory over Memphis.
“It meant the world to me that they believed in me to catch it,” Lamp said at the time about his coaches. “Most offensive linemen can’t catch.”
Two other Chargers expected to make their preseason debuts Thursday are defensive lineman Justin Jones (ankle) and running back Justin Jackson (hamstring).
Jones was a third-round pick out of North Carolina State and Jackson a seventh-round pick out of Northwestern. Both rookies were hurt early in camp.
“He looks good, fresh legs,” Lynn said of Jackson. “He’s moving well, making good cuts. He was doing really well before he got hurt. We’re looking forward to seeing him get in the ballgame and run.”
Jackson is trying to win the Chargers’ third running back spot behind Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.
Also in that competition is Russell Hansbrough, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, and Detrez Newsome, an undrafted rookie.
Newsome leads the team in rushing attempts (35) and receptions (nine) in the preseason.
“That position is one where something is going to be determined in this game,” offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said.
In the Chargers’ final preseason game last year, Ekeler emerged as a little-known free agent who had played at Western State University in Colorado.
“He just kept proving, over and over, every time he was in the game, we just kept pushing the ball down the field,” Lynn said. “That wasn’t an accident.”