What’s that old Yogi Berra baseball term? “Deja Vu-all over again?”
It’s not happening again is it, to the San Diego Chargers? Another siege of bad-luck injuries to people along the offensive line? It sure seems that way.
That was a mountain of a man who went down late in the Chargers win over the Detroit Lions. DJ Fluker, bigger than an Oak tree, collapsed in searing pain, when two players, rolled onto the back of his left leg on a running play at the line of scrimmage.
Fluker, all 6-5, 339-pounds of him, went down like a felled tree, clutching his left leg. His own running back Danny Woodhead, and a defensive tackle, both rolled onto the back of his leg, while he was fully extended blocking on a running play. He was down on the field for 5-minutes, unable to walk, nor stand, carted off.
It looked bad, and could have been bad. Your fears, broken ankle, or ruptured Achilles tendon. Not so, but a high ankle sprain, is pretty significant, especially for someone so huge, with such weight pressure on his legs.
You thought ‘Groundhog Day’ all over again. Fluker went down weeks after fellow guard Johnny Troutman broke his forearm.
Last year the Chargers went thru five different starting offensive centers, enroute to a non playoff season. 2014- started with the career-ending stinger problems with center Nick Hardwick, and it was downhill from there.
In 2013, hip ailments eroded away the career of right tackle Jeromey Clary.
In 2012, the scary concussion and Gran Mal seizure incident finished off the promising career of guard Kris Dielman.
In 2011, neck stenosis and continued back problems ended the pro career of left tackle Marcus McNeill.
As the Chargers go to Cincinnati this weekend, they will have used 22-different starting offensive lineman since opening day in 2013. That’s a stunning stat, and a slap in the face of continuity. 10-different lineman started last year. 9-the year prior. And the Bolts will have 3-new OL starters by kickoff vs the Bengals.
The once proud offensive line, that was the unsung hero, in the era of Rivers and Tomlinson, are all gone. The only one playing now is Louis Vasquez, who was allowed to go to the Denver Broncos as a free agent.
It’s been a patchwork quilt group of players since then. Some good, like King Dunlop, some awful like Jared Gaither. Some fill-ins like Chad Rinehart. Most all now out of the league.
Fluker was the beginning of the rebuilding effort, and now he he is hurt, luckily for a shorter time, with likely no long-term effects.
We were spoiled for such a chunk of time with all those quality lineman, who managed to stay healthy. Those guys in the trenches are so important to every other facet of the offense.
Hoping no more-fearing it’s not over. “Deja-Vu all over again.”