Trent Scott passes first test in place of Chargers’ Russell Okung at left tackle
As he spoke late Thursday night, at least three of his teammates stepped back, held up their phones and captured images of him answering questions from the media.
“I can’t hang with you no more,” defensive lineman Justin Jones joked. “Big time.”
Said center Scott Quessenberry, “Crazy, huh Justin?”
Trent Scott laughed off the playful chiding as best he could and then got back to being famous. This is what can happen when playing left tackle in the NFL.
“It’s different, coming from Grambling [State],” Scott said of all the attention he’s suddenly receiving. “I just try to stay locked in, stay focused on what I gotta do. Make sure I do my job.”
Tyrod Taylor took over against Arizona and directed the offense to a pair of drives that netted 160 total yards and a touchdown in a game the Chargers would go on to lose 17-13.
Scott is attempting to replace two-time Pro Bowler Russell Okung, who suffered a pulmonary embolism in June and, because he is on blood thinners, remains out indefinitely.
Okung’s next scheduled checkup is at the end of August, the Chargers preparing to go into the season without the veteran who serves as quarterback Philip Rivers’ primary protector.
“I think it was pretty solid,” Scott said of his performance. “I felt pretty good.”
With veteran Mike Pouncey not dressed for the game, Dan Feeney moved from left guard to center and Forrest Lamp started in Fenney’s spot.
Guard Michael Schofield and tackle Sam Tevi, the incumbents on the right side, rounded out the starting five up front.
As the game progressed, coach Anthony Lynn shuffled and reshuffled the line as the Chargers attempt to find the best alignment while giving younger players more experience and versatility.
Lamp, entering his third season after being a second-round pick in 2017, has played only 17 regular-season snaps because of a knee injury that required two surgeries.
The game against the Cardinals marked his most extensive action since the Chargers’ preseason finale last year. Lamp and Feeney were on the field for all 60 offensive snaps.
“I played decent,” Lamp said. “Obviously, there are some things I definitely can improve on, blocks that I missed that I wish I could go back and do again. But that’s what the preseason is for.”
Immediately afterward, Lynn said it was too early to fully grade the play of the line or any individual performances in particular.
But he was pleased with how the Chargers ran the ball early and the 160 total yards the offense generated in its first two possessions with backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the game.
“The first couple drives, we were rolling there,” said running back Austin Ekeler, who finished with 40 yards on five carries. “I wasn’t getting touched until I was in the secondary. So props to them. I didn’t see any real big busts.”
What displeased Lynn was the steady blur of yellow flags. Arizona accepted 10 Chargers penalties totaling 85 yards. Another six penalties were declined.
The Chargers were called for holding eight times while in possession of the ball, although four of those came on special teams. Both Scott and Lamp were called for holding in the second half.
“That was disappointing to me because that goes back to technique work,” Lynn said. “Gotta look at our conditioning, see what kind of shape we’re in and things that we’re doing in practice. We’ve got to get better fundamentally.”
As a rookie in 2018, Scott started one game at right tackle and played in nine total.
Then he’s charged with facing the likes of Arizona linebacker Terrell Suggs, a seven-time Pro Bowler while with Baltimore.
“It was some good reps,” Scott said of the opener. “It was good for me, made me feel good going in there and having some good drives against those guys.”
After two joint practices next week with New Orleans, the Chargers face the Saints in their second preseason game.
The defense in New Orleans features edge rusher Cameron Jordan, who will test Scott more. Scott said practicing daily against Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram has helped in his development.
“Coming out getting those good reps against guys like Joey and Mel every day, no chance but to get better,” he said. “Makes me ready for game days like this. I feel pretty confident right now.”
Top wide receiver Keenan Allen didn’t travel for the game, though Lynn didn’t elaborate as to why. A handful of players who are dealing with injuries and weren’t going to play also didn’t travel. Allen appeared to injure himself Saturday making a diving attempt in a joint practice with the Rams. Lynn dismissed the incident afterward and said Allen was fine.
The Chargers’ two on-field practices since have been conducted at a slower pace and Allen was involved in some of that work.
Cornerback Trevor Williams, who is competing with Michael Davis for one cornerback spot, also didn’t play because of an unspecified injury.
Jones vs. Easton
The Chargers’ first two quarterback spots belong to Rivers and Taylor. The battle for the No. 3 job was on display Thursday as Cardale Jones and Easton Stick finished the game.
Jones was four for six for 47 yards and Stick seven for 11 for 78 yards. Jones had one fumble that was overturned by replay and Stick threw an interception.
“I thought Cardale made some nice throws,” Lynn said. “At the end, I don’t like the fact the ball came out. But he was down. … He’s got to learn to step up in the pocket, I think, versus going backward.”
Stick’s effort was highlighted by a 31-yard scramble for a fourth-quarter touchdown. After failing to find an open receiver, the rookie took off and weaved a path all the way to the end zone.
“It’s part of my game,” Stick said. “If something’s not there I have the ability to tuck it and move the chains. Just another thing that people have to defend. That’s the way I’ve always played.”
Lynn said the Chargers could move practice to the Denver-area in advance of their game Nov. 18 in the high altitude of Mexico City. The Rams did something similar last year before their game scheduled for Estadio Azteca was moved. … Among the young players who stood out to Lynn was defensive end/linebacker Chris Peace, an undrafted rookie out of Virginia. Lynn said Peace “brought some intensity to the field.”
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