Weston Steelhammer

Extra Points: Bolts, Bills, Lechler, Seahawks

After parting ways with Orlando Franklin with three years remaining on his deal, the Chargers are going to have a revamped offensive line in 2017. But they will be doing some rearranging on their own as well. Matt Slauson functioned at center for the 2016 Bolts, but the former Jets and Bears guard looks like he’s going to be moving back to his original position. The second-year Charger worked at left guard during the team’s voluntary minicamp last month, Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes. Franklin lined up at left guard the past two years for the Bolts. Slauson played center, and graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 player there last season, but he was a left guard starter for his first five-plus seasons in the league. Slauson moved to center with the 2015 Bears due to a Hroniss Grasu injury. New Bolts HC Anthony Lynn was the Jets’ running backs coach throughout Slauson’s time with Gang Green.

Woike adds that Forrest Lamp has begun working at right guard, where D.J. Fluker played in 2015-16, and Indiana Dan Feeney took early reps at center. That would be a way to get both Day 2 picks in the lineup, along with Slauson. A 2016 third-round pick, Max Tuerk could also factor into the equation at center.

Here’s more from around the league.

  • In moving from the Texans to the Bills, Brian Gaine made a lateral move in Brandon Beane‘s eyes. As Bills VP of player personnel, Gaine will oversee the Bills’ pro and college scouting departments while reporting directly to Beane, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. Beane, of course, beat out Gaine for the Buffalo GM job. But the New York native saw enough in the Bills’ offer to move over from a similar job with what’s been a more successful franchise to the franchise with the longest active postseason drought among American major pro sports teams.
  • Speaking of the Texans, Shane Lechler‘s 2017 deal will contain a $500K signing bonus, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. The 40-year-old punter re-signed with Houston for $2MM this year and doesn’t sound like retirement is especially close. This will be his 18th season. Despite being regarded as one of the greatest punters in NFL history, Lechler at this point is a middle-of-the-pack player in terms of salary. He’ll be making $200K more than last season.
  • The Seahawks don’t plan to play Malik McDowell as a defensive tackle, but rather as an interior player on passing downs, Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com notes, adding that Pete Carroll wants him to operate in a Michael Bennett-like capacity. That means McDowell may be a second-stringer as a rookie but play multiple positions. While Carroll said the second-round pick would see time at the three-technique spot in Seattle’s 4-3 scheme, he doesn’t view the Michigan State product as a pure tackle. “We’ll play him a little more at defensive end,” Carroll said, per Kapadia. “He played inside a lot. He was over the center a lot, and he doesn’t look like that kind of player in our system to us.” The Seahawks still have 2016 second-rounder Jarran Reed and Ahtyba Rubin at defensive tackle, along with third-round rookie Nazair Jones.
  • The Eagles did not sign safety Weston Steelhammer after inviting the Air Force alum to their rookie minicamp. One of three Air Force products to receive a tryout over the weekend, Steelhammer sits in limbo after the Department of Defense reversed its more lenient ruling just before the draft. If nothing changes, Steelhammer and more prominent Air Force prospect Jalen Robinette must serve for two years before beginning an NFL career. “Things didn’t work out how we thought or how we hoped, but everything happens for a reason,” Steelhammer said, via Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com. “I’ll just try to make the most of it.”

Bills Giving Air Force WR Jalen Robinette Tryout

Jalen Robinette looked like a player set to be at worst a Day 3 pick entering draft week, but after a Department of Defense 11th-hour ruling, the standout Air Force wide receiver went undrafted. The reversal of a policy that allowed Navy’s Keenan Reynolds a path toward the Ravens’ roster as a rookie meant Robinette and fellow military academy-developed prospects could not be drafted.

But the Bills are taking a look at the yards-per-catch dynamo as part of their rookie camp, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. One of 25 rookies the Bills are examining this weekend, Robinette may well have to wait until the 2019 season if this Buffalo setup ends up working out.

The Eagles also invited Air Force safety Weston Steelhammer to their rookie camp, and the Cardinals extended the same opportunity to linebacker Ryan Watson, per Jhabvala. Both of those rookie camps are also unfolding this weekend.

The new policy, similar to the one that required former Air Force (and current Falcons) lineman Ben Garland to serve two years before joining the 2012 Broncos, would force these talents to serve for 24 months before being eligible to pursue a professional sports career. Garland signed with the 2010 Broncos as a UDFA and was placed on the team’s reserve/military list before returning two years later.

However, Jhabvala reports that Robinette’s agent, David Lisko, is attempting to get the receiver and the rest of this class of military academy athletes grandfathered in under the old D.O.D. policy, since that’s the one the athletes were operating under this offseason. These athletes would need to have a professional contract to be eligible for the Ready Reserve program, which allows for the delay of service time. Teams at the most keep a few rookie-tryout players out of the dozens generally invited, so the trio has an uphill battle this weekend.

That said, someone like Robinette could be appealing since he was a projected draft pick. The 6-foot-3 target averaged 27.4 yards per catch — en route to 959 yards and six receiving touchdowns — last season.