<strong>July 31, 2005</strong>
Source: <a href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/07/31/sports/professional/chargers/22_47_567_30_05.txt">The North County Times</a>
SAN DIEGO ---- Ah, the romantic places to enjoy the bliss of a honeymoon: Hawaii, Cancun, Niagara Falls, the French Riviera, Murphy Canyon.
Say what? Igor Olshansky celebrated his one-week anniversary Saturday doing the Oklahoma drill at Chargers Park on the second day of full workouts.
Instead of being locked in the loving embrace of Liya, his new bride, the defensive end was wrestling with offensive lineman Leander Jordan.
If nothing else, being at Chargers Park is cheap and there's no need to request the nearby Holiday Inn's honeymoon suite. Olshansky's roommate, Dave Ball, would have none of that.
In fact, few teammates knew Olshansky walked down the aisle July 23, followed by a splashy reception at San Francisco's exclusive Fairmont hotel.
"Thanks for the invitation, Igor," linebacker Donnie Edwards said.
Replied Olshansky: "You don't understand, man. I had to invite my family and friends, and have you ever been to the Fairmont? It was $500 a person and I would have been losing money."
A clubhouse visitor told Olshansky to get used to it, now that he's hitched.
The Chargers love their connection with Olshansky, and what he helped do to a wobbly run defense last year as a rookie.
After being selected last year in the second round out of Oregon, the Chargers and Olshansky didn't duck from running backs. They finished with the league's No. 3 run defense ranking (81 yards per game) after tying for 25th in 2003.
"Our line is no joke," Olshansky said. "Try to run the ball on us."
Attempting to bowl over Olshansky produces few chuckles. He's every bit the 6-foot-6, 309 pounds he's listed at, and seemingly has muscles on top of his muscles.
At Oregon, he bench-pressed 505 pounds. Once, he ripped off 43 reps at 225 pounds.
"Everyone around the league knows that he's tough and strong," linebacker Steve Foley said. "He's one of the stronger guys in the league."
Olshansky's strength helps compensate for his lack of football pedigree. The Ukraine native and first player from the former Soviet Union to be drafted by the NFL remains somewhat of a novice.
He didn't play football until his junior year at San Francisco's St. Ignatius High, which was one year after meeting his future wife.
Foley was recently speaking to Olshansky about the NFL's past great defensive linemen, and Olshansky replied with a blank stare.
"He didn't know who I was talking about," Foley said.
Olshansky shrugs. So what if he's not keen on NFL history or some of the game's nuances.
"It's only football," he said. "It's not rocket science."
Olshansky wants his game to find another orbit. While pleased with a rookie year that produced 39 tackles and a sack ---- of Michael Vick, no less ---- Olshansky seeks more.
"He wants to the best defensive lineman in the league, and he has the ability and potential," Foley said. "As long as he stays on the path that he is on right now."
On game days, that trail leads to the sidelines on passing downs. While stout against the run, Olshansky is still absorbing the intricacies of pass-rush moves and using his hands to shed blockers.
"He doesn't know a lot about the game, although he is playing it at the highest level," Foley said. "There's still a learning factor for him."
Olshansky requires an education, on and off the field.
"My wife is great, but she nags me," he said, as his married teammates arched their eyebrows. "She is always nagging me, but don't all wives do that?"
Not really. Except those asked to delay a post-wedding tradition
"Hey man," Edwards stressed, "take your wife on a honeymoon."
Olshansky's NFL honeymoon is over. With year two at the altar, the Chargers hope he remains a San Francisco treat.
CHARGERS NOTES -- Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates' agent, Andre Colona, was waiting to hear back from the Chargers after negotiations picked up steam on Saturday. "I guess I'm encouraged because we are exchanging proposals," Colona said. Chargers GM A.J. Smith confirmed the parties are talking. It's believed Gates seeks a deal averaging between $4 million-$5 million per year. ... On the Shawne Merriman front, the player drafted in front of him at No. 11 (DE Demarcus Ware of Troy State) and the two players drafted after him at Nos. 13 (OT Jammal Brown from Oklahoma) and 14 (FS Thomas Davis of Georgia) have signed, which could accelerate talks with the missing rookie linebacker. ... The Oklahoma drill was the highlight of the two practices on Saturday. The drill, matching two players in a restricted area, makes for some violent clashes. And there's few, if any, rules that come attached to it. LB Steve Foley drew OL Kris Dielman for his battle. "Dielman is one of the dirtiest players on this team," Foley said. "He'll grab you and throw dirt in your face." ... Those missing part of the practices included: DEs Dave Ball (back), Adrian Dingle (knee) and Adell Duckett (knee); LBs Ben Leber (foot) and Randall Godfrey (soreness); WRs Reche Caldwell (hamstring) and Malcom Floyd (calf); TE Ryan Krause (foot); DT Jamal Williams (ankle); and LT Roman Oben (knee). ... The team practices today at 2:30 p.m. at Chargers Park.