Advertisement

Chargers’ Bryan Bulaga explains what Sam Tevi is facing in move to left tackle

Chargers offensive tackle Sam Tevi during the first half of an preseason game.
After playing at right tackle the last two seasons for the Chargers, Sam Tevi is set to be the team’s starting left tackle when the season opens Sept. 13.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Sam Tevi downplayed the significance of switching positions, suggesting the transition requires little more than adjusting footwork.

Teammate Bryan Bulaga offered a different opinion Sunday, the veteran right tackle saying that moving to left tackle means much more than just changing ends of the offensive line.

“There’s a process to it,” Bulaga said. “It’s not as easy as one thinks just going out there. There are a lot of things you need to change in your head. All your muscle memory needs to flip sides of your body. It’s a tough adjustment.

“But I think he’s doing well. Every day he’s improving a little bit. You can’t master switching spots in one practice. It doesn’t work that way.”

Advertisement

After starting the last two seasons at right tackle, Tevi is in place to be the Chargers’ starter on the left side in Week 1 against Cincinnati.

Prize rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, the sixth pick of the NFL draft, continued to be challenged Friday when he was matched up against the starting defense.

Bulaga said Tevi, who is 6 foot 5, 315 pounds, has the size, strength and athletic ability to handle the position, which most notably protects the quarterback’s blind side.

“He’s kind of a freaky-type build,” Bulaga said. “I mean, super quick, super strong. Now, he just has to kind of put everything together and just dial in every play. I think he’s getting better at that every day.”

Advertisement

This is a big season for the Chargers’ offensive line coming off a year in which the team struggled up front in part because of injuries and inexperience.

Among those attempting to bounce back is veteran center Mike Pouncey who started five games in 2019 before suffering a neck injury that required surgery.

Pouncey was not at practice Sunday. In his absence, staring left guard Dan Feeney initially moved to center and Forrest Lamp took over Feeney’s spot.

As practice continued, Scott Quessenberry and Ryan Groy also took reps at center with the first team.

Advertisement

Along with Bulaga at tackle, Trai Turner is a new addition at right guard. Bulaga was acquired as a free agent and Turner in a trade.

The Rams’ first workout at the $5-billion SoFi Stadium left them in awe, but fans likely won’t get to experience it in person anytime soon.

So the Chargers have rebuilt their offensive line and are being forced to jell the group without any preseason games.

New offensive line coach James Campen said an offseason that featured only videoconference meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic assisted in bringing his players together.

Advertisement

“If we’re sitting here worried about what we lost, it’s the wrong way to go about it,” Campen said. “We just have to take advantage of every opportunity now and make sure we get these guys ready to play. I feel like we’re tracking that way.”

Tevi said his progress is being aided each day by facing a defensive line that features Pro Bowl pass-rushing ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in practice.

“With no preseason, yeah, it’s kind of tough,” he said. “But, in these practices right now, I get to go against two of the most dominant pass rushers in the league. It’s great to go against this whole D-line.”

Mike Williams injured

Wide receiver Mike Williams walked slowly off the field a little more than an hour into practice after landing hard on a driving attempt at a catch. The NFL Network reported later that Williams was dealing with a shoulder issue.

Advertisement

Williams led the league averaging 20.4 yards per catch in 2019 despite being hobbled by knee soreness. During his rookie year in 2017, he was slowed by a back injury.

Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. continues to be sidelined by an issue with his upper right leg. Coach Anthony Lynn said Harris “had a little bit more of a grab in the back of his leg than what he [originally] thought.”

Defensive lineman Damion Square returned for the first part of practice after missing time because of an undisclosed injury. He finished the workout not wearing pads. Rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. also returned.

Two undrafted rookies, defensive end Joe Gaziano and linebacker Asmar Bilal, didn’t practice because of undisclosed injuries.


Advertisement