The Chargers received upper-echelon production from Matt Slauson last season, with the veteran continuing to function well at center despite being a natural guard. Slauson being moved back to guard this offseason opens the door at center, and the Bolts have 2016 third-round pick Max Tuerk seemingly waiting in the wings after essentially redshirting as a rookie. But second-year UDFA Spencer Pulley is throwing off that natural succession plan presently. Pulley is currently the Bolts’ starting center, Eric Williams of ESPN.com notes, while pointing out that it’s still May and Tuerk will have a chance to compete.
“I have a great comfort level with Spencer,” Philip Rivers said, via Williams. “That’s what he played in college his whole time there at Vandy. Slauson was great there last year, and Spencer played some there in that Cleveland game and a few other times, so I have a good feel with him. He’s had a heck of an offseason, so he’s in there right now with the first group and we’ll see how it goes.”
Pulley being ahead of Tuerk, who started at USC before catching the Mike McCoy-led Chargers’ eye last April, complicates matters for the former Trojan. Because the Chargers used their most recent third-round pick on Indiana interior lineman Dan Feeney, who joins second-round pick Forrest Lamp in the interior-line mix for Los Angeles. Williams doesn’t mention Feeney as a prime candidate here, so the Bolts could work him in at guard for now. Feeney did take reps at center earlier this offseason. Regardless of how this situation works out, the Chargers will have a remade interior line after relocating Slauson and cutting D.J. Fluker and Orlando Franklin.
Here are some more Western-division notes.
- Kyle Shanahan plans to divide offense-management responsibilities based on how the ball travels. The new 49ers coach did not hire an offensive coordinator, as he’ll function in that role after serving as an OC for three different teams since 2013, but he assigned two assistants jobs. Mike McDaniel will be in charge of the ground game, and Mike LaFleur will oversee the passing attack, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports. Bobby Turner, who worked with both in Atlanta after many seasons on Mike Shanahan‘s staffs in Denver and Washington, is the team’s running backs coach. So, it looks like he and McDaniel will be working together for a 49ers team that saw Tom Rathman move on after many years of being involved with the team’s rushing attack.
- Carlos Henderson rated as Broncos wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert‘s No. 5 wide receiver prospect, according to Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. The Louisiana Tech prospect went to the Broncos in the third round and was the 10th wide receiver off the board. Wolfe expects Henderson to challenge for a return job as well after taking back three kickoffs for scores in his three-year college career. He and fifth-round rookie Isaiah McKenzie (five punt-return TDs from 2014-16) figure to enhance a Denver return game that’s struggled since Trindon Holliday‘s short but explosive run ended after the 2013 season.
- It is clear to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post that the Broncos want to give Paxton Lynch every chance to win the starting quarterback job over Trevor Siemian. Lynch is a high-risk, high-reward gunslinger, while Siemian is a no-nonsense game manager, but Kiszla points to the division rival Chiefs to explain why Denver wants Lynch to win the job. Kansas City’s Alex Smith, the definition of a solid, game-manager type quarterback, has been just good enough to get the Chiefs beaten in the playoffs, which prompted the team to jump through hoops to draft the immensely talented but erratic Patrick Mahomes in the first round of this year’s draft.
- Derek Carr‘s extension talks with the Raiders are expected to ramp up, with the fourth-year passer believed to be in position to sign a deal that is a “strong step above” Andrew Luck‘s five-year, $122.97MM deal.
Rory Parks contributed to this report.