If I were a carpenter...

The Chargers front office is known to be organized, efficient, and above all else, repetitive. Therefore, anyone who has been following the Chargers' off-season with even the slightest degree of interest knows that the Chargers plan for the remainder of the summer is to acquire good football players, line them up three deep, and let the competition bring out the best in each of them.

Fans also know that every starting spot is theoretically up for grabs, and that Coach Schottenheimer will only play those who give the team the best chance to win.

Fans, however, know that this is not exactly true.

Jesse Chatman could rush for a thousand yards in the preseason alone and have no shot at unseating LaDainian Tomlinson. Other young players with tremendous upside such as Jamar Fletcher, Stephen Cooper and Kris Deilman all have no realistic shot at starting because of the amount the team has invested in the players starting ahead of them. Even Philip Rivers chance of starting are remote considering he is trying to unseat a 26-year-old quarterback playing at a Pro Bowl level.

There are several spots where the competition should be wide open. The team must not get complacent and start less talented players for the sake of continuity.

The first example of this is at free safety, where incumbent Jerry Wilson will be challenged both by Bhawoh Jue, the Chargers lone free agent acquisition, and a host of returning young talent, including Clinton Hart and Hanik Milligan. While Wilson is a good leader with excellent field awareness, his lack of range and speed make him a liability. The youth and range of Jue should make him the leading candidate to win the starting position, but Hart and Milligan also possess great speed and can lend support against the run as well. No matter what, if this is indeed an open competition, then Wilson will be lucky to survive training camp.

Another position up for grabs is the right tackle spot. No free agents were brought in to challenge Shane Olivea, but that is only because the Chargers have incredible depth at the position. While people may be unaware of this because both of the Chargers starting tackles started all 16 games last season, the Chargers have two young studs waiting in the wings.

The first such player is . He is going into his third season, and has the height and bulk that Olivea lacks. He also has the agility to handle even the league's elite pass rushers. 1776532 The other promising prospect is Leander Jordan. This five-year veteran has the potential to dominate in the running game more so than any other tackle on the roster, and has the versatility to line up at any spot along the line other than center, a definite bonus in case the team's line reverts to its injury prone ways. 1776532 Both Van Buren and Jordan have their hands full, however, as Olivea is a scrapper who competes to the whistle, possesses an incredible work ethic, and has a year of experience playing along with the Chargers other four returning lineman. However, if the most talented right tackle is starting on opening day, then Olivea is on the bench.

While the team was tremendously successful last season, they must realize that talent can be more important than continuity.

Just look at the Patriots, who have already parted ways with core players Ty Law, Troy Brown, Joe Andruzzi and Roman Phifer this off-season. They know that in order to sustain success, you must continually play the best players, not merely the same ones.

The Chargers inactivity thus far during free agency is a sign that this team is ignoring the need to constantly bring in new talent. If that conservative mind set carries over to training camp, then the team is in trouble. If talented players such as Jue and Van Buren are not allowed to compete in August, the Chargers may find themselves unable to compete in January.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo@sandiegosports.net

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