New Era in LT Woes: Left Tackle Marcus McNeill Holding Out

Randy VillarbaContributor IAugust 3, 2010

The San Diego Chargers are still experiencing LT nightmares.

Not from the running back in New York, but their attempts to replace the left tackle Chargers holdout Marcus McNeill.

In training camp this week, Larry English repeatedly sped past General Manager A.J. Smith's attempts to replace McNeill.

Brandyn Dombrowski was made a fool of by Larry English in the Chargers' full 11-on-11 drills.

The first-round pick in 2009 looked like a game changer... or the absence of McNeill at left tackle is a weak spot that has defensive coordinators salivating.

Smith has been making moves, but it might not be enough.

English looked like a one man highlight reel finding his way to Rivers multiple times. Not to knock English's work ethic, but San Diego is in trouble if McNeill's starting replacement isn't up to the task.

Smith's signing of three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle William Tra Thomas was one move to cover the Chargers' left tackle predicament with a 6'7", 317-pound veteran.

"Tra is a talented player with a wealth of starting experience," GM Smith said.

"He will be added to the mix as we move forward in preparation for the upcoming season. It’s my understanding we have lost the services of both Marcus and Vincent for a considerable length of time. I certainly am taking them at their word. Therefore, I felt it was in our best interest to act quickly and secure a veteran left tackle."

The Chargers are also giving Nick Richmond, a 6'8", 309-pound undrafted rookie some reps at left tackle. The kid only had one starting season at TCU however.

Coach Norv Turner is over talking about McNeill and the other players that have been hogging the pages with their contract issues.

"I'm not going to address the three guys (McNeill, Shawne Merriman and Vincent Jackson) who aren't here after today.

"I'm not going to speak of it and our guys aren't going to spend a lot of time talking about it either. They would all like those guys to be here, but this group has handled change and distraction as well as any I've been around. I don't think it creates distraction in our building. There are a bunch of guys getting an opportunity to play, and I believe our team has confidence that they'll get the job done."

McNeill was offered a one-year contract tenders at around $3 million, but desired a long-term deal. When he failed to sign, the Chargers dropped their offer a little, resulting in a loss of about $2.5 million.

If English is the rebirth of the Chargers dominating defense, then there is no concern at left tackle for the Chargers without McNeill.

If Smith's replacements are not up to the task of protecting Philip Rivers and creating holes for new signing Ryan Mathews (or even teeny tiny ones for Darren Sproles), the Chargers begin a new era in LT woes.

This time Sans Ladainian Tomlinson.