SAN DIEGO (AP) D.J. Fluker was out of his element in the San Diego Chargers’ preseason opener.
”That was my first try at guard,” the third-year player said. ”I felt like a rookie for a minute.”
Fluker’s first two seasons had him at right tackle. But with the Chargers signing free-agent tackle Joe Barksdale in the offseason, the team is experimenting with Fluker at right guard.
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Fluker was at that spot in the Chargers’ 17-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.
Coach Mike McCoy won’t name his starting offensive line. But on Saturday, the team’s first workout since the game, the 6-foot-5, 339-pound Fluker was again at right guard.
Even if the Chargers’ depth chart designates him as the starting right tackle.
”I’m not surprised by anything,” Fluker said. ”I have no expectations for anything. I just want to be one of the 53 guys.”
The position got thinner in the preseason opener. Johnnie Troutman, who is listed as the starting right guard, exited with a broken arm. The timetable for his return, if he does come back, hasn’t been revealed.
That turns even more attention toward Fluker making the switch to guard.
”Things are a little bit faster,” Fluker said about moving inside. ”And you have to be able to communicate a whole lot faster, getting the calls in and out.”
Fluker was still getting work in after practice. He was battling defensive end Corey Liuget, honing his technique and picking Liuget’s brain, too.
”He knows all the tricks of the trade and has been doing it for a long time,” said Fluker, who played right tackle at Alabama. ”He can make it easier for me in the games.”
According to Liuget, Fluker is up to the challenge.
”I think it is a pretty good move for him,” Liuget said.
While the nuances of the position are different, it doesn’t change Fluker’s approach.
”Just me being me,” he said. ”Being physical and bringing the fight for the offense like I always do. Set the tempo early and let the (defensive players) know it’s not going to be an easy game for them.”
McCoy said Fluker’s versatility is a plus.
”He’s done a nice job and the more he plays inside, the better he is going to be,” McCoy said. ”That’s with anybody.”
The Chargers are off Sunday. They will resume practice Monday, leading to Saturday’s preseason game at the Arizona Cardinals.