Orlando Franklin on the mend, looks to finish strong for Chargers

SAN DIEGO -- Before he signed with the San Diego Chargers in free agency this year, guard Orlando Franklin had missed one game in four seasons, playing an average of 1,037 snaps per season.

But this season a high-ankle sprain and MCL knee sprain forced the usually durable Franklin to miss five games. As a result, Franklin has played a total of just 211 snaps for the Chargers.

With the help of the bye week, Franklin hopes to return to the field Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Franklin participated in individual work during practice Monday and said his knee continues to get stronger.

“I’m definitely a bit closer than I was a week and a half ago,” Franklin said. “I feel the bye week did me good. I was able to go out there and do an individual today, and it felt good. So hopefully it just progresses along during the week.”

Franklin was San Diego’s top free-agent signing during the offseason, inking a five-year, $36.5 million deal that included $20 million guaranteed money. The plan was for Franklin to pair with left tackle King Dunlap to give San Diego a power side to lean on in the running game and pass protection.

But so far, Franklin and Dunlap have started just four games together, and the Chargers are 1-3 in those contests. Dunlap signed a four-year, $28 million deal to stay with the Chargers as the long-term answer at left tackle. The two combined are making $19 million in 2015.

San Diego’s brass would like to get both Franklin and Dunlap together on the field for an extended period of time to see how the two can impact the running game and the team’s overall efficiency on offense.

“What I’m looking forward to for the most part is just being consistent these next seven weeks out of myself and just being on the field and helping out my teammates,” Franklin said. “I feel like I’ve been here going through OTAs, minicamp and training camp -- stuff like that. But as far as being on the football field, I’ve missed five games, and that’s crazy. I’ve missed one game in my career since I’ve been here (in the NFL).

“So it’s definitely been a frustrating year. And I definitely look forward to these next seven weeks, being able to be consistent and take every snap on offense.”

Even at 2-7, the Chargers are three games back from the final AFC wild-card spot. Franklin believes there’s still time to make a push for the postseason.

“The good thing is it’s Week 10 and we just came off of the bye,” Franklin said. “There’s a lot of great football left and we have a lot of division games. We have an opportunity ahead of us, so it’s not like we’re eliminated.”