Chargers offensive lineman Forrest Lamp ready for his shot

COSTA MESA, Calif. — The best is yet to come for Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Forrest Lamp.

Just ask him.

“I’m excited to have a full offseason to really train, get back at it and show what I can do hopefully,” Lamp said during locker room cleanout last month.

After he was a second-round selection by the Chargers in the 2017 draft, last season served as a redshirt year for Lamp as he went through the process of returning from an ACL injury suffered during training camp of his rookie season.

Lamp also had a cleanup procedure to the same surgically repaired right knee in May, two months before the team’s 2018 training camp.

With Lamp still working his way back, Michael Schofield earned the starting right guard job to open the regular season.

Overall, the offensive line was productive, with the Chargers averaging 4.7 yards per carry (No. 7 in the NFL) and protecting Philip Rivers well enough to field the No. 8 passing offense in the league on their way to finishing 12-4.

However, the Chargers struggled to run the football and protect Rivers in the team’s AFC divisional-round playoff loss to the New England Patriots, finishing with just 19 rushing yards and forcing head coach Anthony Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco to take a closer look at improving the team’s offensive-line play.

Lamp appeared in just two games for the Chargers in 2018, playing 16 snaps on offense. Lamp said he’s healthy and ready to compete for a starting job in 2019.

Considered by several draft analysts to be one of the best offensive linemen in the 2017 draft, the addition of the Western Kentucky product to an already solid line could improve things up front for the Chargers.

“Obviously, I wanted to play,” Lamp said. “I really wasn’t ready until Week 7 or Week 8, right after that bye week. And by then it’s just too late — that’s what Coach Lynn told me. You have an O-line that’s been playing together since April 16, when OTAs started, and they’ve been together for three or four months, so you’re not going to break that up.”

Lamp said he’s fully healthy and was cleared by doctors during his exit physical, so he’s good to go. The plan as it stands now is for Lamp to compete for a starting job once offseason work begins April 15.

While he was out, Lamp was an active observer on the sidelines, saying he learned a lot from veterans like Mike Pouncey and Russell Okung.

“Everybody that’s here has been waiting for this their whole life: Everybody wants to play, or else you wouldn’t be here,” he said. “So missing my rookie year and then not really playing this year, even though I was practicing and whatnot, it’s hard because you just want to play. That’s why you’re here.”

The oldest of four brothers, Lamp said his youngest brother, Hunter, always sends him stuff from social media that serves as motivation, particularly from game days, when he regularly appeared on the inactive list.

“People are always talking s— on there, so it is what it is,” Lamp said.

Lamp said he’ll stay in Southern California full time to continue his training as he works toward the beginning of the offseason program in April.

Telesco compared this offseason for Lamp to what Mike Williams went through in 2018, which led to a breakout season for the second-year wide receiver. Telesco said the expectation is that Lamp will compete for a starting job at right guard.

“He’ll be right in the mix next season, I know that,” Telesco said. “As far as evaluating him, it’s really just watching him practice this year. At least we know he’s back on the field, he’s healthy and playing. That’s good to know. He’ll have a full offseason this year, which he didn’t have last year.”

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