COSTA MESA — Korey Toomer is at the top of the depth chart again, but there’s still a fight ahead of him.
The veteran linebacker will be the only Chargers starter on offense or defense to play in Thursday’s preseason finale, Coach Anthony Lynn said. The title is still nominal. The 28-year-old has pulled ahead of teammate Nick Dzubnar in the competition at middle linebacker, but the competition is by no means over.
Ankle surgery has sidelined former second-round pick Denzel Perryman for at least two months, and his absence has pitted Toomer against Dzubnar for a spot in the middle of the Chargers’ first-string defense. Earlier this month, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley described Dzubnar as a leader who is “rarely out of position.”
But in a preseason loss to the Saints earlier this month, Dzubnar was largely responsible for giving up a 50-yard touchdown run to rookie Alvin Kamara.
SAINTS TOUCHDOWN: @a_kamara6 gets things rolling early!
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) August 21, 2017
Toomer, who began his career with Bradley in Seattle, brings more athleticism and range to the position. He started ahead of Dzubnar in Saturday’s win over the Rams.
“They’re thinking a lot,” Lynn said of the pair. “I’d like to see those guys free up and play — just turn it loose, play faster.”
Toomer is eager for the opportunity. Since becoming a fifth-round pick out of Idaho in 2012, the Las Vegas native has led a transient career. Playing mostly on special teams — or on practice squads — Toomer moved from Seattle to Dallas, from St. Louis to Oakland. He signed with the Chargers last September after Manti Te’o’s season-ending injury, and got the first eight starts of his career.
“I’ve bounced around,” Toomer said. “I’m blessed to be here right now, because I could’ve been out of the league.”
LYNN THINKS OF HOUSTON
Lynn opened his Monday news conference by offering his thoughts and prayers to victims of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in South Texas last Friday as a Category 4 storm. The hurricane has killed at least 14 people and caused widespread flooding, and will likely rank among the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
Lynn did not realize the extent of the devastation until he watched the news Sunday night. A native of Celina — roughly 40 miles north of Dallas — the 48-year-old has family and friends in the Houston area, including former…