San Diego Chargers fans didn’t have to wait long to witness another NFL Rookie of the Week honoree as D.J. Fluker was crowned the title a week after Keenan Allen, shaking up the offensive line by filling in at left tackle once King Dunlap went down with a concussion.
The Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week was introduced in 2002 and until recently, only one San Diego Chargers player had won this honor. Shawne Merriman recorded two sacks against the Buffalo Bills in Week 11 of the 2005 season and captured the award.
Since then, the Chargers have been deprived of another Rookie of the Week until Allen snapped an eight-year drought for his Week 6 performance this season, gaining 107 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Allen, the 76th overall pick in the 2013 draft, currently holds the most receiving yards per game amongst all rookies, averaging 66.5 yards per game. Only Terrance Williams from the Dallas Cowboys (55.5 ypg, 444 yards in eight games) and DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans (59.4 ypg, 416 yards in seven games) have more receiving yards than Allen (399 yards, six games).
Five offensive tackles were taken in the first round of the 2013 draft, three left and two right tackles. Fluker and Justin Pugh of the New York Giants are the only natural right tackles, while Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson played left tackle at the college level. Since entering the NFL all five athletes have been playing right tackle until Fluker swung over to the left for one game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fluker’s versatility to swing over to the left side of the line helped his team record a win and gain the confidence from his coaches that he can be trusted when called upon.
General manager Tom Telesco completed an impressive draft and the fruits of his labor are beginning to show. The contributing rookies on the Chargers’ roster are not only limited to Allen and Fluker. Manti Te’o and Jahleel Addae have made huge strides to the new make-up of the team.
What has been far more impressive from this rookie class is the display of leadership and the desire to make an impact with the team. It wasn’t long ago when Allen was wearing the wrong attire or that Te’o was being mocked by the media about his girlfriend hoax.
Since then, Allen has been vocal about becoming the go-to guy and has made good on his word. While Te’o, in the absence of Donald Butler due to a hamstring injury has been calling the plays in the front of the defense. Maturity has been key. Fluker is most remembered for body slamming Oakland Raiders linebacker Sio Moore and not so much for, when first drafted, voicing his plans to be the next leader on the offensive line. Nevertheless, the body slam is a display of his aggressiveness and passion for his position.
Telesco did a fine job in his first draft and if he continues to find talented young players, the San Diego Chargers will be more a consistent football team for years to come.
Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
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