COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Korey Toomer started his NFL career as fifth-round selection for the Seattle Seahawks in 2012, so he's intimately familiar playing in Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator's Gus Bradley's system.
Toomer's teammate Nick Dzubnar spent his entire college career playing in a similar 4-3 defensive scheme at Cal-Poly.
Both will get an opportunity to replace injured teammate Denzel Perryman for the starting middle linebacker job, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said.
Perryman suffered a left ankle injury that required surgery against the Seahawks in the preseason opener last week. He will miss at least two months, which means the Miami product will not be available when the regular season starts in September.
Toomer played in 13 games, starting in eight of those at inside linebacker last season for the Chargers in departed defensive coordinator John Pagano's scheme. He totaled 75 tackles, three forced fumbles and a sack, so Toomer's game tested.
"It's still preseason," Toomer said. "It's still a battle at that position. It's not just handed to me. It was never handed to me in the beginning when I got here last year. I've still got to go out and earn a spot. I've got to put the work in."
Dzubnar led the Chargers in special teams tackle two years ago as an undrafted rookie with 13 but suffered an ACL injury in his right knee that required surgery last season. He missed the final 12 games.
Dzubnar said rehabbing with former teammate Danny Woodhead, who also suffered an ACL knee injury last season, helped him get healthy ahead of schedule so that he was ready to start offseason work in May.
"This is what you prepare for, I guess," Dzubnar said. "Football is such a next-guy-up type of thing. You can't be happy about it because Denzel is a great guy, a good friend of mine, and it's really unfortunate he went down.
"But we can't let the defense skip a beat because Denzel is not in. Whether we have to elevate our play to keep playing the way we are on the first team, it's up to us to compete our butts off and see how it goes."
Toomer and Dzubnar split reps in practice with the first group, and Lynn said both players will get a shot to earn the starting job.
"He's a tough kid," Lynn said about Dzubnar. "He can tackle in space. He has an opportunity. He hadn't had an opportunity, and now he'll get one. He has a real good feel for the defense.
"Toomer's strength is he may be a little better athlete in the passing game. We'll see, it's a competition there right now."