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Trade Travis Benjamin? Chargers need his playmaking ability

SAN DIEGO – The second week of organized team activities begins for the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday, as the team heads down the backstretch of offseason work.

Focal points for me during a reporters-only day of availability on Tuesday will continue to be offensive line rotations and what players are working in the defensive backfield.

In terms of the young offensive linemen, veteran Matt Slauson had good things to say about rookies Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney when talking to reporters last week.

“A lot of things about them flashed today for me,” Slauson said. “The way they use their hands and the way they attacked the practice, it was exciting to see. And didn’t get to watch Forrest as much as I watched Dan, but Dan impressed me a lot with his hands, his punch and his feet.”

For now, Russell Okung continues to work at left tackle with the starters, with Slauson at left guard, Spencer Pulley at center, Kenny Wiggins at right guard and Joe Barksdale at right tackle. We’ll see how things change with the first two groups up front this week.

That said, let’s get to this week’s mailbag:

@eric_d_williams: It’s a fair question, particularly because the Chargers drafting Mike Williams in the first round certainly improved the depth at receiver. But in my view, Travis Benjamin brings something unique, something that’s different from other receivers on the roster.

First, when healthy, Benjamin is the fastest receiver on the field. And that speed creates plays not only for Benjamin but for other players on the field because opposing defenses have to respect Benjamin’s ability to take the top off the defense.

An example of that is how Benjamin’s holds the safety, freeing up Tyrell Williams for this 38-yard reception against the Atlanta Falcons last year. And when healthy, Williams still has the talent to make spectacular catches like this one.

The Chargers also plan to get Benjamin involved again as a punt returner this season. The University of Miami product was slowed by a PCL knee sprain the second half of last season, but still finished tied for the league lead with six receptions of 40-plus yards last season.

Benjamin is only 27 years old, and with as many injuries as the Chargers experienced at receiver over the last two years, the team needs to keep as many explosive playmakers as it can on the roster.

@eric_d_williams: Right now, Craig Mager, Trovon Reed and Trevor Williams are vying for that spot as the third cornerback in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme.

Reed has an advantage because he spent time with the Seattle Seahawks, so he has an intimate understanding of Bradley’s Cover 3 scheme. Mager has played the most of the three players for the Chargers, both as a slot defender and on the perimeter, so that gives the Texas State product an edge in terms of game experience. Williams provides versatility because he can play outside and inside. His five pass breakups were tied for third among Chargers defensive backs last season.

You can also throw fifth-round draft pick Desmond King in the mix, as he will compete for time at slot defender along with free safety.

What player wins the battle for the starting slot defender job will be an interesting one to watch during training camp.