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Chargers make upgrades on both lines and secondary

NFL Dallas
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COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP)The Los Angeles Chargers had an active start on the first day of the new league year despite missing out on Tom Brady.

The Chargers upgraded their offensive line with the acquisition of right guard Trai Turner from Carolina for tackle Russell Okung as well as agreeing to a three-year deal with right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

On defense, they have agreed to a contract with Chris Harris Jr., who was considered one of the top cornerbacks available, as well as adding a run stopper in defensive tackle Linval Joseph.

Los Angeles has not announced the additions of Bulaga, Harris Jr. and Joseph because they are pending passing physicals.

The addition of Harris Jr. is one of the more surprising considering the secondary wasn’t thought to be a point of emphasis. He joins a unit that has fellow cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Desmond King Jr. as well as safety Derwin James.

Harris Jr. has spent the past nine seasons with AFC West rival Denver and made four Pro Bowl appearances. He built his reputation as one of the top slot corners in the league but played exclusively on the outside last season.

Cornerback A.J. Bouye, who signed with Denver and had done offseason training with Harris Jr., hoped to be on the same team, but now will be on opposing sidelines.

”They’ve been making some great moves. … He’s going to a great situation. I’m looking forward to going against him in L.A. two times a year,” Bouye said during a Broncos conference call.

Turner said during a conference call on Wednesday that he was shocked when he first learned about the trade a couple of weeks ago, but that he feels as if it could rejuvenate his career. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Turner will be going into his seventh season and is one of only four offensive linemen to make the Pro Bowl each of the past five seasons.

”I’m excited about it. I want to go out, show improvement and show that the Chargers made the right decision,” Turner said.

Turner and Bulaga will upgrade an offensive line that struggled last season because of inexperience and injuries. Pro Football Focus rated the Chargers line as the second-worst unit in the league on pass blocking.

Guard Michael Schofield and center/guard Dan Feeney were the only ones to start all 16 games while center Mike Pouncey was lost after five games because of a neck injury. Okung – who leaves Los Angeles after three seasons – played in only six games last year because of blood clots and a late-season groin injury.

The 6-foot-5, 335-pound Bulaga spent the past 10 seasons with Green Bay. He will turn 31 on Saturday and will be reunited with James Campen, who was Bulaga’s line coach at Green Bay for nine seasons. Campen was with Cleveland last season before being hired by the Chargers.

General manager Tom Telesco has said since the end of last season that upgrading the line would be a priority.

”It’s a little bit of a work in progress. James has a huge say on what he thinks fits. … It will be good to have a new set of fresh eyes in that room,” Telesco said during the NFL combine.

The upgrades should benefit whomever lines up under center after the Chargers decided to move on from Philip Rivers. Tyrod Taylor, who remains under contract for another season and has 46 starts, is expected to be the starter, but Los Angeles also has the No. 6 pick in next month’s draft and could select a quarterback.

Joseph has agreed to a two-year contract worth $17 million, but it could go as high as $19 million with additional incentives.

Joseph will be entering his 11th season. He spent the past six years with Minnesota, but was released last week in a salary cap move.

Joseph’s forte is run stopping and he should pair well with defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Los Angeles was in the market for a defensive tackle after releasing Brandon Mebane last week.

AP Sports Writer Patrick Graham in Denver contributed to this story.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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