First year starters to propel Chargers attack

The offense is littered with veterans and youth alike but two important positions could see first year starters leading the Chargers attack.

Could the Chargers actually enter the season with a first-year starting quarterback and a rookie left tackle?


It's a given that Philip Rivers will be taking snaps when the regular-season curtail rises in Oakland on September 11. And it's looking more likely his blindside will be protected by someone -- like Rivers -- making his first NFL start: Marcus McNeill.

McNeill has made considerable progress the past few weeks and is on Leander Jordan's heels for taking the job left vacant by Roman Oben's foot injury.

Oben has yet to practice and is still walking with a pronounced limp. Counting on him for the start of the season isn't practical.

So McNeill could get his big chance, after getting a big one in Friday's preseason loss to the Bears. McNeill, the former Auburn standout and the team's second-round pick, got some work with the first-team and held up well.

"We wanted to get him against the top competition, the better competition," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "I thought he did a nice job."

But McNeill's play didn't come with a few hiccups. He was penalized for lining up incorrectly and for putting his hands to the face of a rusher.

That had the 6-7, 338-pound McNeill in the film room at 8 the morning after the game, never mind the Chargers had returned from Chicago just four hours earlier.

"I didn't sleep too well because I had a couple of bad plays," McNeill said. "So I came over here and watched film. I can always get better and I'm going to continue to say that throughout my career."

Rivers feels the same way about his play but looks at it as a learning process, particularly in the preseason.

"You never like to play not very good," Rivers said, "but I think it's good for us. We'll bounce back and get this thing corrected. If everything goes perfect in the preseason, you are setting yourself up for something to happen."

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