PHOENIX -- With Philip Rivers entering his 14th NFL season, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters at the AFC coaches breakfast that it’s time for his team to bring in an eventual replacement for his veteran signal-caller.
Rivers turns 36 at the end of the year, and his backup, Kellen Clemens, is 33.
"I think we do have to get a young quarterback on campus and start to develop someone, because we have two veteran quarterbacks and both of them are long in the tooth," Lynn said. "I think they have some good years left in them, don’t get me wrong, but you have to start thinking about down the line, too.
"I would love for a young quarterback to get in here and learn from Philip. Philip is the ultimate pro in my opinion, so it would be a good situation for a young quarterback that doesn’t have to come in and play right now, but can sit, watch and learn."
The Chargers already have been doing their work on this year’s draft. Along with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen, Lynn attended a private workout in Lubbock, Texas, for Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The Chargers have selected just one quarterback in the draft under general manager Tom Telesco -- Brad Sorensen in the seventh round of the 2013 draft.
"He has the talent to play at the next level," Lynn said about Mahomes. "He’s a very skillful young man. He’s raw a little bit, like most college quarterbacks, but he’s definitely one that you want waiting on the runway.
"The things that you heard about him -- it didn’t matter if you talked to the intern, the trainer, the athletic director or the head coach -- you heard heart, work ethic and compete. They all said those things about him, and that’s what you look for in a quarterback."
Lynn said the most important characteristics he values in a quarterback are accuracy, leadership and taking care of the football. Rivers totaled a career-high 21 interceptions last season, but said one of his goals for 2017 is curbing turnovers.
"Philip is the type of guy I think we’re eventually going to have to run off," Lynn said. "I don’t think he’s going to ever retire. He’s the ultimate competitor. And that’s how you like it. Guys that start talking about they want to play one or two more years, those aren’t the type of guys I want to coach. I want to coach the ones that want to play forever."
Keenan Allen making progress: Lynn said Allen is making progress from an ACL knee injury that the Cal product suffered in the season opener last year against the Kansas City Chiefs. Lynn said he doesn’t know if Allen will be full-go once the team’s offseason program begins next week. It’s been only been seven months since Allen’s surgery. "He’s doing good," Lynn said. "He’s working every day. I see him down in the weight room all of the time and out on the field. He’s doing well."
Offensive line competition: Lynn said the addition of Russell Okung should improve the play up front along the offensive line. However, Lynn said there will be competition at the guards and center, with the possibility of Matt Slauson moving to his more natural guard position. Second-year pros Max Tuerk and Spencer Pulley will get an opportunity to compete for starting jobs, along with incumbents Orlando Franklin at left guard and Slauson at center. The Chargers' starting right guard is vacant because D.J. Fluker joined the New York Giants in free agency.
"Pulley and Tuerk are two interesting, young and developing guys," Lynn said. "I’m interested to see how they come along, because that could change the whole dynamic of that line. Slauson could go to guard, his natural position. One of those guys could take over at center. We just don’t know yet."
Andre Williams could make an impact: One the practice squad for most of last season, Boston College product Williams rushed for 79 yards filling in for Melvin Gordon in the Chargers' last game of the 2016 season against the Chiefs. The Chargers brought back Williams in free agency, and Lynn will give him a chance to compete for the backup job behind Gordon. Lynn said he liked Williams coming out of Boston College and wants to teach Williams some stuff in the receiving game so he can get more touches. Williams has 19 career receptions in three NFL seasons. "It’s harder to teach a guy that during the season," Lynn said about pass-catching for running backs. "Now is when you teach him. So we’ll work at that this offseason very hard. ... Receiving is a skill. It’s like a golf swing, something that can be developed. So there’s no excuse for not being able to catch the ball."