SAN DIEGO -- Drafted in the third round last year as the possible center of the future for the Los Angeles Chargers, Max Tuerk was a healthy scratch in 2016 coming off an ACL right knee injury that cut short his final season at USC.
But now in his second NFL season, Tuerk will be given an opportunity to compete for a starting job. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said that the left guard, center and right guard spots will all be up for grabs when training camp starts at the end of July.
Tuerk spent most of the 2016 season learning behind starting center Matt Slauson but is prepared to earn a job wherever the Chargers need him. Tuerk started 18 games at center, 14 at left guard, five at left tackle and one at right tackle while at USC.
"We expect him to come in and try and win a job; that’s what you expect," general manager Tom Telesco said about expectations for Tuerk. “He played behind Slauson all last year, and Matt played very well. With Max coming off the ACL halfway through his college year, we knew it was going to be a bit of a slow process for him.
"I don’t think he missed a day of training camp, so he was ahead of schedule. But it still takes time coming back from that injury. We expect him to come in and win a job."
Added Tuerk: "I have experience playing all over. I played guard, center and tackle at USC. I’ve always been a guy that’s said wherever I can get on the field, I’ll play. It’s not up to me what position I’m playing, so it’s wherever I can get in on the field."
Tuerk played at about 290 pounds last season and had trouble gaining weight. He said he’s at about 295 to 298 right now and hopes to be above 300 once the season starts.
And the time on the practice field working with the first-unit defense and watching the Chargers’ offense helped Tuerk adjust to the NFL pace of football.
"It was definitely a good learning experience coming off the ACL injury,” Tuerk said. "I learned a lot playing behind Slauson. I got a lot of reps playing on the practice squad. I learned a lot about the offense and what it is to be a pro.
“I was really focused on trying to improve myself. Trying to improve my body and trying to improve my mind mentally watching guys like
Slauson take reps. I was trying to learn as much as possible and take as much in.”
Tuerk also said his knee feels healthy a year-and-a-half removed from surgery.
"Right now it feels good," he said. "It’s strong. I’ve been working well with cutting and in the weight room. I still need to get better. I still have areas of my game and areas of my body that I need to focus on and improve. But it does feel better."