Sports Out West

Danario Alexander injury impacts first Chargers depth chart

Photo Credit: Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers issued their first depth chart of the season on Monday — it lasted about 24 hours before undergoing a major shakeup.

Danario Alexander was initially listed as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver alongside Malcom Floyd, but the injury plagued Alexander suffered another unfortunate setback. A torn ACL in his right knee is likely to sideline Alexander for the duration of the 2013 season, NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus reports.

Alexander’s absence opens the door for Eddie Royal to establish himself as a primary target for Philip Rivers. A new addition in 2012, Royal failed to make much of an impression with 23 receptions in 10 games.

Rivers and Royal have shown a rhythm in training camp workouts. Thursday’s preseason match-up against the Seattle Seahawks will provide the first insight into how that practice rhythm translates to game situations. The Seahawks ranked No. 6 in the NFL in pass defense a season ago, allowing just 203.1 yards per game.

Rookie Keenan Allen should see more repetitions with the first string as a result of Alexander’s absence. A standout at Cal, Allen is listed behind Royal on the current depth chart.

Replacing Alexander’s size will prove challenging for offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. At 6-foot-5, Alexander is the tallest target in the receiving corps and a dangerous red zone complement to tight end Antonio Gates.

Vincent Brown‘s return to practice on Tuesday offered some relief for the Charger passing offense.

Other noteworthy items from the initial depth chart include free agent acquisition King Dunlap‘s slotting at left tackle, while first round draft pick D.J. Fluker is set at right. Fluker started the entire 2011 and 2012 BCS championship runs of the Alabama Crimson Tide on the right side.

Dunlap beat out former Steeler Max Starks for the first string left tackle nod. The position has been one of the franchise’s biggest question marks since health issues forced Marcus McNeill into retirement, and the Jared Gaither experiment went bust.

The inside linebacker tandem of Donald Butler and rookie Manti Te’o is San Diego’s most intriguing first string pairing, save the Dunlap-Fluker tackle combination. The promising young pair of Butler and Te’o both enter 2013 with much to prove. Injuries slowed Butler late last season, as he missed four of the Chargers’ final five games.

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Kyle Kensing

Kyle Kensing is the editor and founder of SaturdayBlitz.com, and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. His credits include CBS Sports, ESPN.com and Yahoo! Sports, and is a columnist on the Rivals network. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.