Trey Pipkins III or Storm Norton? Chargers nearing decision on starting right tackle

Early Monday afternoon, coach Brandon Staley said the Chargers were “getting closer” to making a decision on a starting right tackle.

A short time later, Trey Pipkins III took all the first-team practice reps.

Pipkins and Storm Norton had been splitting snaps equally throughout training camp and the first two preseason games.

Entering his fourth year, Pipkins has been considered the likely front-runner throughout the summer. The Chargers aren’t obligated to announce any of their starters before their Sept. 11 season opener against Las Vegas.

“It’s been great for both guys to compete and to come to practice every day with a real healthy competition,” Staley said before the Chargers’ workout. “There’s a healthy respect for one another.

“I think there’s the respect that they know that we have for them, too, that we didn’t have to go outside of our team to address our right tackle because we think that both of those guys are quality players.”

The Chargers signed 12 free agents to contracts worth up to $151 million total in rebuilding their roster. They also traded for edge rusher Khalil Mack and drafted Zion Johnson to be their starter at right guard.

The one position they didn’t touch was right tackle, where Norton started 15 games last season following Bryan Bulaga’s season-ending injury.

Norton is entering his third year with the Chargers after joining the team as a free agent in 2020. Before that, he most recently had played in the XFL.

Pipkins was a third-round pick in 2019 out of Sioux Falls, the Chargers drafting him as a longer-term project. He has started 10 games, including two in 2021, over his three NFL seasons.

Staley said since both players are at “similar junctures” in their careers, he believed the Chargers could make a more precise evaluation of how the two compare.

“I think with these two guys, we’re going to be able to make an accurate decision,” he said. “Then we’re going to be able to know that that person earned it. All we want is that person to be able to go out there and play to his full potential, get with the other four guys that he’s going to be with and really establish that strong chemistry …

“Whoever wins the starting job is going to be our starter. There’s not going to be like any rotation or anything like that. Whoever wins this race is going to be the guy out there. I want to make sure that everyone knows that.”

Pipkins started the preseason opener and Norton started the second game. Both played 20 snaps Saturday against Dallas.

J.C. Jackson injured

Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson stretches to make a catch in practice on June 1.

(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Cornerback J.C. Jackson was not on the practice field Monday because of an undisclosed injury.

Since Staley was made available to the media before the workout, he was not asked about Jackson. The Chargers declined to offer any additional details afterward.

Jackson was the team’s No. 1 free-agent addition, agreeing to a five-year contract worth up to $82.5 million, $40 million of which is guaranteed.

Undrafted coming out of Maryland in 2018, he spent his first four seasons with New England, earning his first Pro Bowl trip last season. Jackson’s 25 interceptions since he entered the league lead the NFL.

Joshua Palmer dealing with concussion

Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer sustained a concussion Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer sustained a concussion Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Joshua Palmer is in concussion protocol after being hurt against the Cowboys, Staley said.

Heading into his second season, Palmer has established himself this summer as the Chargers’ No. 3 wide receiver. He had three catches for 75 yards and a touchdown Saturday.

Rookie running back Isaiah Spiller suffered an ankle injury against Dallas and is “kind of week-to-week,” Staley said. Staley added that there’s a chance Spiller won’t be ready for the start of the regular season.

Spiller has been competing with Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III to be the primary backup to Austin Ekeler.

Kenneth Murray Jr. activated

Inside linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. was activated off the physically unable to perform list and practiced for the first time since last season. He had ankle surgery in April.

Staley said he believes Murray could still start the season on time.

“I think he can be ready for Week 1,” Staley said, “but to what extent and how much? I think that remains to be seen. But we’re really excited. I know he’s worked really hard to get back.”

Murray had 17 tackles over the first two games in 2021 but only 14 more the rest of the season as he missed significant time because of injury.

His return opens the possibility of the Chargers playing Kyle Van Noy at both linebacker and edge rusher, something he has done in the past. In Murray’s absence, Van Noy has been playing exclusively inside.


Staley said safeties Alohi Gilman (undisclosed) and Mark Webb Jr. (calf) and cornerback Deane Leonard (hamstring) are unlikely to play Friday in the Chargers’ preseason finale at New Orleans.

Tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring), edge rusher Ty Shelby (leg) and cornerback Tevaughn Campbell (knee) also remain out.

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