Rumors on the line

The off-season team activities are underway and before training camp has even hit, rumors are coming out that there could be some changes in the starting lineup, particularly along the offensive line. New line coach Jack Henry holds no allegiance and anyone can make an impression.

While summer has yet to begin, one player has moved up the depth charts - at least for now.

It's hard to say but not difficult to read: Cory Lekkerkerker.

The name on the jersey was front and center during the final day of the recent rookie orientation, which featured youngsters as well as veterans. When it came time for the first string to trot out, Lekkerkerker was at right tackle.

Much has been made about the hand-wringing the Chargers are doing at left tackle. Veteran Roman Oben is trying to get past two serious foot operations to be ready for training camp. And the Chargers don't want to rely on Oben's backup, the inconsistent Leander Jordan.

That is why the Chargers spent a second-round pick on Marcus McNeill. Just in case Oben can't go, they want McNeill to give Jordan a run for the starting spot.

McNeill has a lot to learn about the NFL, but he's caught on quick with the San Diego tradition of enjoying tacos.

"Carne asada, that's the ones I like," he said.

But the team is also seeking to upgrade at the opposite tackle. There were some concerns that Shane Olivea, a two-year starter, wore down as last year's 9-7 season progressed.

"My preparation is going to be the same," said Olivea. "Work hard and do what I have do to maintain my spot, working on technique and working out, lifting and running. Getting my mind into the best possible shape coming into camp."

Is Lekkerkerker the answer? Hard to say, though the Chargers' coaches seem to like his potential. There's not much to go on game-wise, as Lekkerkerker did not appear in a single game last season. He was on the practice squad for half the season and spent the other half inactive.

Lekkerkerker signed last year as an undrafted free agent from Cal-Davis.

Olivea had nearly as many snaps as Lekkerkerker in the camp, so saying he's lost his job is a stretch. But it's a position worth watching.

"We need to keep the guys who are going to become winning NFL offensive linemen," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

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