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A Gamble worth taking

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. Blue Bolt
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    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Gamble could be worth it
    Written by Tim Sullivan

    [​IMG]
    Chargers linebacker #49 Darryl Gamble tackles Seahawks quarterback #7 Tarvaris Jackson for a loss late in the first quarter. — John R. McCutchen

    Darryl Gamble found a seam with a head of steam, weaving his way through the congestion with the nimble tread of a 250-pound tightrope walker.

    Cutting a purposeful path through the tangled bodies, the rookie linebacker was almost in the clear Thursday night when he paused to pull a piece of tape from the bottom of his bare left foot. Behind the Chargers’ main dressing room at Qualcomm Stadium, in the crowded alcove where rookies congregate around shared cubicles, Gamble walked with his shoes in his hand, a gray backpack strapped to his shoulders, and a head full of happy thoughts.

    Only the troublesome tape had succeeded in stopping him in his tracks.

    Undrafted and largely unheralded, dismissed as too slow for the National Football League, Gamble nonetheless made an immediate impact during his debut in Thursday’s 24-17 preseason loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Competing primarily against other eager extras, Gamble looked like a force rather than cannon fodder. He was credited with a team-leading eight tackles, including a quarterback sack and another stop behind the line of scrimmage, and was deprived of a second sack by a teammate’s nullifying penalty.

    Gamble provided the kind of outside pass rush the Chargers have been looking to find from Larry English. True, he did it against a lot of guys who will be looking for work in coming weeks, but he did it emphatically enough to merit more opportunities against stronger competition.

    “What we see is a guy stepping up and showing us something every day,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said Friday. “We see it in practice; Gamble has jumped out for the coaches and I think he’s jumped out to the other players. They say, ‘This guy’s a good pass-rusher,’ or ‘This guy’s this.’ . . .

    “(But) when it’s really nice is when it shows up in a game.”

    In a training camp condensed by a lockout of labor, coaches are eager to identify newcomers who can learn, progress and perform without excessive hand-holding. Shifted from inside to outside linebacker in the last week of spring practice preceding his senior year at the University of Georgia, Gamble has demonstrated the ability to adapt and, Thursday night, the capacity to create havoc.

    “I probably blitzed more today than I did my whole senior year,” Gamble said Thursday night. “They knew I was capable of it. Coach (Todd) Grantham at Georgia, he knew that I could do it, and he sort of went back and forth with the coaches here and told them I was a good player. I guess they’ve seen it now.”

    Preseason openers sometimes conceal as much as they reveal. Coaches rarely play their regulars long enough to develop a good grass stain, and their playbooks are generally variations on vanilla. They use these games to evaluate talent and improve timing while withholding many of their tactical wrinkles until the regular season.

    So it’s easy to be misled, to read too much into a dress rehearsal staged primarily for the purpose of determining which actors are expendable. It’s risky to attach too much importance to plays made against third- or fourth-string competition and it’s worth noting that the Chargers’ leading tackler in their 2010 preseason opener was another undrafted linebacker, Darry Beckwith, who spent two years as a member of the Chargers’ practice squad and amassed one assisted tackle.

    Still, Turner saw enough of Gamble Thursday night to make him want to see more. He said special teams coach Rich Bisaccia was eager to make use of Gamble in kick coverage. Turner acted as if this free agent was another “find” deserving of development, like so many core Chargers; as if Gamble’s play Thursday night had not only opened eyes, but opened doors.

    “It has more meaning to this organization than some places,” Turner said of Gamble’s showing. “As I told our guys the night before the game, all you’ve got to do is look around the room and look at the number of guys who came in here and were . . . at some point the bottom 30 guys on your roster.

    “You’re talking about Malcom Floyd. You’re talking about Jacques Cesaire. You’re talking about Antonio Gates. You’re talking about Mike Tolbert. I can keep going. There were a number of guys who were Gamble when they got here.”

    Football coaches can be callous, but most of them are suckers for a Cinderella story, particularly if Cinderella shows a knack for crushing quarterbacks and creating turnovers. As a Georgia sophomore, Gamble demonstrated his big-play potential by returning two interceptions for touchdowns in one game at LSU.

    The framed certificate Gamble earned that evening as college football’s Defensive Player of the Week now hangs in his mother’s bedroom back home in Georgia. Leaving the Chargers’ locker room Thursday night, Gamble was eager to phone home with more good news.

    He had not made the team, but he had made a mighty favorable first impression, and he knew it. Asked to assess his chances of cracking the Chargers’ roster, Gamble said, “I think pretty good.”

    “There’s not much depth at the linebacker position,” he said. “I just want to show them that I can play, be resilient throughout the season, try to show my talents on special teams, try to do whatever I can to help the team.”

    He is, so far, a Gamble worth taking.
  2. Cheapseats
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    Cheapseats Loud, proud Charger fan

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    As I mentioned in another thread, he really got my attention at the game...hadn't heard of him prior to that. If he keeps performing like this he has an excellent shot at making the roster as a special teams beast and at least some spot duty at OLB as he learns how to play consistantly at the NFL level. Looking forward to seeing him get some reps against the Cowboys on Sunday.
  3. Buck Melanoma
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    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    He'll stick if he can excel on ST. Otherwise, likely PS.
  4. Pointyearedog
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    Pointyearedog BoltTalker

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    I kept on looking at our defense during the game and asking my neighbor, who is that guy??!! Bird was in the game for a while too. Gamble and Bird were all over those plays, doing exactly that, creating havoc.
  5. Chargerfn909
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    Chargerfn909 High and tight kid, high and tight!

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    Entirrrrrrrrely too early. He had one good PS game against the Seahawks.. -Brandon Lang looked decent in PS last year for a game of two as well.

    I'll give this kid a grade in 3 weeks.
  6. CoronaDoug
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    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    If he can be consistent then I am all aboard the Gamble express. We will see in the next few games. He had a good start though.
  7. 1 COOL GUY 13x world Chmp
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    1 COOL GUY 13x world Chmp Jesus gives wisdom if you pray for it! Banned

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    So far Gamble stands out more than anyone else new TBH.
  8. Brundlefly
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    Brundlefly Well-Known Member

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    Kid sure has made a hell of a name for himself. Seems to be the talk of the first game. It's his spot to lose right now.
  9. ntman68
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    ntman68 Well-Known Member

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    Cosigned.
  10. AnteaterCharger
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    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    He did well vs Seahawks, now show me you can do it again
  11. matilack
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    matilack #therealagent47

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    He better be good, cuz just as I predicted it looks like Merriman is making his comeback.
  12. Blue Bolt
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    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    How does that affect us exactly?

    The Chargers weren't about to pay Merriman another season's salary to rehab on IR like the Bills did. He was given plenty of time to show if he could contribute...... he couldn't. End of story.
  13. charger1993
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    charger1993 bad motherfucker

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    god i hope Gamble is like merriman when merriman was still good
  14. HEXEDBOLT
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    HEXEDBOLT Well-Known Member

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    Every camp has it's "feel good stories" the guy that should have made the team but the numbers caught up with him. Some folks in here want to win the Lombardi last year, and now are leaning on the hope of an unknown rook for the keys to the promise land. I'm all for finding that diamond in the rough but asking this guy to be like Merriman is on a whole different dimension.
  15. matilack
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    matilack #therealagent47

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    Well it sure doesn't seem like he's on the IR right now does it? He is only 26, and playing for the league minimum I believe.......which is more than we can say for his supposed replacement.

    So you can pretend it doesn't affect us, but i sure wish we had gotten something for him or at least shown some loyalty.

    http://bolttalk.com/threads/where-could-shawne-merriman-go.19816/page-2#post-631105
  16. Blue Bolt
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    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Loyalty?........ they paid him while he was recovering, but he couldn't get on the field. Get something for him?........ he was damaged goods.Who would give anything for an injured player?

    You could say the same for Bob Sanders....... the Colts paid him a lot of money and he barely played the last 3 years. Can you blame them for moving on? Sure, Sanders may stay healthy this year and make a big contribution to the Chargers (I'm certainly hoping he does), but a team can't wait around forever for a guy to get healthy when he's being paid good money.
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  17. matilack
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    matilack #therealagent47

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    The Colts made a mistake with Sanders, we made a mistake with Merriman, both teams will regret it.
  18. Blue Bolt
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    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    No one has a crystal ball........ players have to be able to contribute in a reasonable amount of time.

    Merriman essentially missed 3 seasons for us, while still getting paid handsomely. His decision to delay the surgery (against the team's advice) only prolonged his recovery. The Chargers showed plenty of patience with him. His first year with the Bills he didn't play at all. They paid him $2 million to rehab.

    Sorry, but your contention that the Chargers made a "mistake" is just silly. If Merriman has finally recovered enough to participate, good for him. He's certainly made enough money watching football the last few years....... about time he earned his money. It's a long season, will he hold up?....... we'll see.
  19. boltmanbz
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    boltmanbz Well-Known Member

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    I like the kid,I hope he shows us more this week,if he does we will all be excited... James Harrison #2 lol
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  20. matilack
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    matilack #therealagent47

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    Blah blah blah. Watch the Bills/Bears game again and tell me you're not skeptical. Merriman looked like his 2006 self.

    We'll see how it goes as the season moves along, but id bet you 1,000,000,000 dollars (boltcash) that Merriman gets 10+ sacks.
  21. Blue Bolt
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    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Blah Blah Blah is right........ it's not your money of roster space Merriman was sucking up the last few years. I wouldn't anoint him as his 2006 self based on one preseason game. Maybe Merriman will hold up, and maybe he won't. Doesn't change the fact that the Chargers were justified in releasing him.

    The Chargers were tied for 2nd in sacks last year, even without a quality bookend to Phillips. I don't see any reason to think the Chargers can't improve on their sack totals from last year. LaBoy and English, with the possible addition of Gamble, should generate some sacks this year. Phillips and Barnes should continue to create pressure on their side, so I wouldn't be too concerned about the pass rush. If Liuget can create some inside rush, we'll be in good shape.
  22. Concudan
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    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    C'mon... You complain about players the Chargers sign, so you in fact are complaining about players sucking up roster spots. So if you are going to complain about who the Chargers spend money on, how can you sit there and bag on someone else for complaining they didn't spend money on a player?
  23. matilack
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    matilack #therealagent47

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    Justified...probably.
    Smart...probably not. The guy was only 26yrs old, and his decline started after the knee injury 18 months after the suspension, not before.
    As for the money, he was still on his rookie contract, and now I believe he re-signed for the league minimum.
    As for the roster spot, name one good player we were forced to cut in the 2 years we kept the injured Merriman on our roster. Did any of them even have the upside of a guy like him? Heck no, we're talking about scrubs like Jermain Race, Cory Lekerkerkerkerkerkerrrrr, and the guy from the Cannon Commericals who wears #16....:)

    Point is, to get absolutely nothing for a former 1st round pick who was a once DOMINANT pass rusher seems stupid to me. I'd have definitly given him a 2 or 3 year small contract to be depth if nothing else.
  24. Blue Bolt
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    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    The problem was, he followed the knee injury with an Achilles injury. To many people, it looked like Merriman's body just wasn't going to hold up. Frankly, nobody but him knows what he put into his body in the past. If he did use steroids, then his breakdown wouldn't be too surprising. The simple fact is that you can't get anything in trade for an injured player.

    The point is, Merriman took a very long time to recovery to his current playable condition. The Chargers had no reasonable expectation that he would regain his prior form, so why continue to pay the guy for not playing. The Bills were a bad team, and could afford to gamble on the future, the Chargers were intent on winning now.

    I wouldn't go too crazy on Merriman just yet. You've seen him in exactly one preseason game against a terrible Bears O-line. The Bears allowed 56 sacks last year, and they let their center Olin Kreutz go. Not exactly the toughest test in the world.
  25. Brundlefly
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    Brundlefly Well-Known Member

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    N0b0dy wanted to keep him around when he actually was here though. Hell I had as much faith and was as big of a fan as anybody but he just didn't have it. I mean I'll obviously admit I was wrong if he has a monster season in Buffalo, but it looks rather likely that he was just going through the motions here. He didn't want to be here. It takes two to tango so to speak so whether we wanted him or not, he didn't want to be here. If he does have a monster year, well hindsight huh.
  26. Retired Catholic
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    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    How long can you stash a guy on the roster who isn't healthy enough to play without finding someone who can to occupy that spot? I fairly sure we know how Sanders will play this year if he stays healthy. Merriman is still an open question. I suspect he may only be an adequate back up at this point.
  27. charger1993
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    charger1993 bad motherfucker

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    im a huge merriman fan, i actually got his autograph in person. But it was a pre season games against the Bears, they let up a total up 8 sacks, merriman only had 2, and so did some random white guy ive never heard of
  28. Savage Lizard
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    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    Who knows what A.J. tried to do with Merriman? Perhaps he called every team in the NFL trying to get something for him, but was unable to drum up any interest. It's not like Merriman had showcased his skills for awhile. Just because we feel like we should get something for him, that doesn't mean other teams have to give us something.
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  29. Concudan
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    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    I liked a healthy Merriman. I did not like the unhealthy Merriman. I am not bent on the Chargers letting him go, it made sense for the team IMHO. I wish him the best except when he is playing us. If he returns to form, the Buffalo got a steal... Good for them.

    Same goes for LT. I look forward to him retiring as a Charger. Until then, good luck except when you play the Bolts.
  30. Chargerfn909
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    Chargerfn909 High and tight kid, high and tight!

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    The Bolts didn't keep the guy around because he can't stay healthy, we all know he can play ball. Even in Rivera's scheme where he didn;t get to pin his ears back as much, he still was very valuable in the run game (WHEN healthy).

    Perhaps with the lockout (and no drug testing) he got his self back up to speed lol. I wish him the best but I do not blame our FO ONE bit for not keeping this guy on the roster.

    Also, I think its WAY too early to say he's making a comeback. It was the Bear O line, which will probably give up the most sacks in the league, and its preseason.

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