Practically the only need the Chargers did not address this offseason was right tackle, where incumbent Storm Norton and backup Trey Pipkins waged a summer competition. It looks like there will be a change up front for the Bolts. Pipkins appears to have beaten out Norton for the gig, Daniel Popper of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The two are swapping roles, with Pipkins — a 2019 third-round pick — leaving his swing tackle post to try his luck as a starter again. Norton, who replaced Bryan Bulaga early last season and made 15 starts, worked with the second team throughout practice this week and saw time as the second-string left tackle as well. Pipkins, 25, has made 10 career starts. While the Chargers demoted him in 2021, they were impressed with his left- and right-side spot starts late in the season. The University of Sioux Falls product, who is going into a contract year, will work on a line full of free agency investments (Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler) and first-round picks (Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson).
Here is the latest from the O-line scene:
- Staying on the right tackle topic, Elgton Jenkins is expected to settle in there when he returns, per Albert Breer of SI.com. A high-end Swiss Army knife for the Packers, Jenkins made the 2020 Pro Bowl at guard and began last season as David Bakhtiari‘s left tackle fill-in. An ACL tear sidelined Jenkins in November. Jenkins would stand to command more in earnings with a quality right tackle season, though staying on the field in 2022 will position him for a lucrative deal no matter where he lines up. The Packers removed both players from the active/PUP list this month but do not yet know if Jenkins and Bakhtiari — who have not played together since December 2020 — will be ready for Week 1, Matt LaFleur reiterated Sunday. When healthy, a Bakhtiari-Jenkins duo would be one of the league’s best tackle tandems.
- The Vikings are on the verge of having five homegrown first- or second-round picks as O-line starters. Second-round rookie Ed Ingram is “trending” toward being the Vikes’ right guard starter, Kevin O’Connell said (via the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson). Although Minnesota signed Jesse Davis and Chris Reed as potential stopgaps, Ingram has impressed since moving to first-team duty during camp. Ingram worked with Minnesota’s first team in joint practices against San Francisco, with Davis — who had taken some days off to rest a surgically repaired knee — shifting to the second team, Tomasson adds. Ingram was also held out of the Vikings’ preseason finale Saturday, and while O’Connell stopped short of locking the LSU product into the lineup, that is the likely scenario. Ingram would join 2021 first-rounder Christian Darrisaw, 2020 second-rounder Ezra Cleveland, 2019 first-rounder Garrett Bradbury and 2018 second-rounder Brian O’Neill on a fully homegrown Vikings line.
- Free agent pickup Elijah Wilkinson looks to have commandeered the Falcons‘ left guard spot, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who notes the former Broncos and Bears blocker looks set to play ahead of 2021 third-rounder Jalen Mayfield. The Michigan product struggled as a rookie, ranking as a bottom-10 Pro Football Focus guard. Mayfield did start 16 games, so a demotion is certainly notable for player who started one with the Bears last season. Wilkinson’s most relevant NFL work came in Denver, when he served as Ja’Wuan James‘ primary replacement from 2019-20. Mayfield may already be on Atlanta’s roster bubble, per Ledbetter.