Van Buren in the hot seat?

San Diego Chargers tackle Courtney Van Buren could be in line for his first career start this weekend. As if problems along the line were not bad enough, Solomon Page was placed on the injury report Friday and is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.

Three fifths of the Chargers line will be replaced on Sunday if Solomon Page is unable to go. Vaughn Parker and Bob Hallen were placed on injured reserve already this season and Jason Ball is still out with an ankle injury.

Page has been battling a bum ankle for the better part of three weeks. Now it appears it will cost him gametime.

Courtney VanBuren, a third round draft pick, has been splitting time between left and right tackle in practice. Originally, when the line was healthy, Van Buren had been working exclusively at left tackle.

His first game experience, however, came at right tackle with the rash of injuries to that side of the line. He will play next to fellow rookie, and undrafted free agent, Phil Bogle, if Page is unable to go.

Van Buren and Bogle have become close friends, and they will need to play off each other to be successful. They worked out together during training camp, so this should be nothing new.

"Honestly what me and Courtney did – we were friends during the offseason program and we got a little closer during camp and roommates and we were going to push ourselves to get better and we are going to stick together and we would get through it together," said Bogle. "We did that and it worked out. Stayed after most of the practices with Coach Houck to get that work in.

"Coach Houck always told us that if we just maximize our ability, because we are both good athletes, maximize our abilities and get the technique down, there will be no stopping us."

That extra work paid off more quickly for Bogle, but Van Buren will be thrown into the fire this week. Bogle insists nothing has changed in their relationship.

"No, I don't think it has put a strain on us friendship wise. We are still good friends – we are still great friends. It didn't really matter what it was, I kind of picked up on the offense a little faster than he did. I kind of understood what was going on a little easier.

"Once Courtney gets everything down and gets real comfortable, he will be back up there. There is no doubt about that."

This week could be the test. With Page ailing, Van Buren will have to protect the right side of Drew Brees and still open holes for LaDainian Tomlinson. The problem the Chargers will face, is the overloading of the left side on running downs, and the right side on passing downs.

The protection failed last week with the line allowing six sacks. Without the right side jelling this week, it could be more of the same.


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