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Tra Thomas Retires: San Diego Chargers Missing Marcus McNeill

Dan Bodner@KYHoopsBuzzCorrespondent IAugust 22, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 20:  Tra Thomas of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during the preseason NFL game on August 20, 2004 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Eagles defeated the Ravens 26-17.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

After 12 seasons, offensive tackle Tra Thomas has finally decided to call it quits.

The San Diego Chargers signed Tra Thomas in June to provide depth at left tackle in the absence of All-Pro Marcus McNeill. Unfortunately, the veteran was forced to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery early in training camp and was unable to return to practice until this past week.

Thomas was projected to be the backup to second-year offensive lineman Brandyn Dombrowski, but found himself quickly sliding down the depth chart due to his inability to get on the field.

Tra Thomas is best-known for being a key cog in the Philadelphia Eagles' offense, starting 168 games in 10 years. During this span, Thomas made the Pro Bowl a total of three times and was an All-Pro selection in 2002.

The Chargers, who were already thin at left tackle because of Marcus McNeill's holdout, now will have to overcome a plethora of inexperience at the position. Brandyn Dombrowski, who is currently first on the team depth chart, has only nine career starts, none of which have come at left tackle.

With the departure of Thomas, second-year offensive lineman Tyronne Green will assume the role of primary backup at left tackle. Green, who was drafted as an offensive guard in 2009, first began playing left tackle two weeks ago after having been moved from offensive guard to right tackle in June.

The retirement of Tra Thomas is not the only bad news the Chargers received this week.

On Friday evening, left tackle Marcus McNeill and wide receiver Vincent Jackson were officially placed on the roster exempt list. This means that even if Marcus McNeill does end up signing, he will be forced to serve a three-game suspension.

With an extended absence of McNeill now a certainty, the Chargers will be forced to either roll the dice with a couple of second-year players at left tackle or scramble to find another veteran through trade or free agency.

Expect the Chargers to add a more experienced tackle in September once teams begin to trim their rosters down to the 53-man limit.

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