Chargers’ Brandon Staley gives honest assessment of Trey Pipkins, Storm Norton

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With starters Rashawn Slater and Bryan Bulaga sidelined for nearly the entire preseason, this has been an excellent time for their backups to prove to the coaching staff that they can be counted on, should an injury occur.

Unfortunately, while there have been plenty of opportunities to show their worths, the product on the field has not been all that positive, especially for the returners Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton.

On Sunday evening, Pipkins and Norton had no answer for the 49ers edge defenders. In particular, Pipkins was outmatched by Jordan Willis, who sacked for Easton Stick for a safety and forced him into a holding penalty.

Norton, on the other hand, didn’t play as poorly as Pipkins did but he was still far too inconsistent to be counted on during a regular-season game.

While they aren’t to blame for the complete outcome, the line still gave up five sacks, six additional tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits.

The underwhelming performances from Pipkins and Norton did not go without being brought up to head coach Brandon Staley, who had a harsh yet honest response.

“Those two guys were able to see where they’re at with their game,” coach Staley said of Norton and Pipkins following the game. “Those two guys got a really accurate picture of where they’re at.”

Prior to training camp, I mentioned that the battle of the swing tackle would be one of the most compelling position competitions and with only one game remaining to evaluate, it’s a bit concerning.

If either Slater or Bulaga went down with an injury, the team could play Matt Feiler at tackle and plug in rookie Brenden Jaimes at left guard or keep Feiler where he is at and let Jaimes protect the edges.

While it seems reasonable, it still speaks to the lack of depth at the position. Los Angeles boosted the starting five this offseason, but failed to bring in competent players behind them.

Only time will tell if the team makes any other changes to the group prior to the start of the season.