After making the NFL All-Rookie team last season, offensive tackle D.J. Fluker wants to go to the Pro Bowl in his second season with the San Diego Chargers. And he’s willing to fight to get there – or, at least, take up a boxing workout as part of his offseason workout regime.
Fluker has been working with boxing coach Dale Soliven at the House of Boxing in San Diego this summer. After a Chargers practice last week, the 6-foot-5, 339-pounder explained the benefit.
“Cardio,” Fluker told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I’m not tired on that field like I used to be.”
Soliven said boxing should be a natural fit for an offensive lineman. The footwork, leverage, balance and hand power needed for pass protection fits the boxing profile.
“He’s learning,” Soliven said. “The good thing about him is he’s super motivated to do it.”
Fluker played at Alabama after being at prep standout at McGill-Toolen and Foley.
As an NFL rookie, Fluker started at right offensive tackle, although he had to shift in several games to left tackle when King Dunlap was injured. He helped pave the way for Ryan Mathews to run for 1,255 yards. But Fluker expects to be better in the 2014 season.
“I want to get to the Pro Bowl this year,” Fluker said. “That’s one of my goals. Coach D (offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris) and I talk about it. I have a lot of potential to do all the right things. … I said, ‘They haven’t seen my best yet.’ What I meant by that was I had a full year under my belt. I understood the game speed. I understood how good I really can be. Now it’s a lot easier. The game is slowing down.”
One place the Chargers would like to get better is in the red zone, an emphasis for the offense in OTAs last week. San Diego’s offense led the NFL in time of possession and third-down conversions and finished fifth in yards per game. Yet the Chargers ranked 12th in the league in scoring.
“The key to the red zone is refusing to be denied,” Fluker said. “You have to make the most of your opportunity because it takes a lot of work to get down there. We took the ball and moved it down near the end zone, so we have to make the most of the opportunity we gave ourselves. Let’s go do it! Let’s score! Give it everything you’ve got!”
That kind of rah-rah out of a rookie surprised some of the San Diego veterans last season, and Fluker came back for OTAs with the same enthusiasm.
“All you need is somebody to give you a little more impact, a little more enthusiasm, a little more fire,” Fluker said. “Then you’ll be good. Somebody lights that torch in you, that ‘You can do it,’ you start buying into it. You start building that bond with yourself that, ‘Hey, I can do this. I believe in it. I’m going to die for it. This is what I’m going to do.’”
The Chargers have practices scheduled for Monday through Thursday before mandatory minicamp June 17-19.