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Applewhite learning all the time as his role continues to grow

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 10, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Thursday, October 9, 2008
    On a play last week in Miami, Chargers linebacker Antwan Applewhite was on the turf, literally crawling, and he still got his hands on Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington.

    The effort showed his tenacity, but it also provided a graphic illustration of Applewhite's current situation: He's learning to crawl, then walk, then run as a suddenly key component in the San Diego defense.

    “He's a young player learning how to play in this league,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said. “He's had good plays and he's had bad plays, which is what you'd expect. We're asking a lot of him.”

    What they are demanding is that Applewhite go from being just another faceless guy on the practice squad six weeks ago to working as an integral part of a linebacking unit significantly altered by injury.

    Applewhite figured to be mostly a special teams contributor when he was promoted to the big roster after the first game when Shawne Merriman went on injured reserve. But his playing time has steadily increased, and Applewhite got his most significant work last week following the hamstring injury to Merriman's replacement, Jyles Tucker, who has been ruled out for Sunday night's game against New England.

    As he did in the loss to the Dolphins, Applewhite will split time with outside linebacker Marques Harris.

    “It's going all right. I feel like I'm getting better,” Applewhite said. “Some guys are banged up, and I'm just trying to take advantage of my shot.”

    Applewhite has never had this kind of opportunity. A former All-MWC first-team performer at San Diego State, the 6-foot-3, 246-pounder entered the NFL draft after his junior year but went unpicked. The Chargers signed him as a free agent in 2007, cut him after training camp and then signed him to be on the practice squad for the second half of last season.

    It has been an eye-opening experience being in games that count.

    “He was kind of excited his first couple of plays (last week),” Chargers defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said. “He was kind of nervous, but he settled in pretty well. He got heat on the quarterback.”

    Said Applewhite, who was credited with 1.5 knockdowns against Pennington: “There's no room for error in this league. Every mistake you make is a big one. You take the good with the bad and you learn from all of it.”

    RODNEY'S RETURN

    The Chargers have played the Patriots four times since safety Rodney Harrison was released by San Diego after the 2002 season. But Sunday will be the first time Harrison, 35, has entered Qualcomm Stadium as a playing foe. In his only other opportunity, Harrison missed the playoff game in San Diego after the 2006 season with a knee injury.

    “Being that I'm playing my first time
    back there, it is going to be a special moment because I started my career there,” Harrison said on a conference call. “I get a chance to go back and play in front of a lot of family and friends. It should be a fun time.”

    Harrison is in his sixth season with the Patriots after playing nine years for the Chargers, who named him their Defensive Player of the Year three times. He ranked second on the team in tackles in 2002, but was let go. The next year, Harrison played all 19 games and was the leading tackler in the Patriots' Super Bowl win over Carolina. He won another ring the next season.

    “Initially, as a young person not understanding the business side of it, you get really ticked off and become a little bitter,” Harrison said of the Chargers' decision not to keep him. “After sitting back looking at the situation, you understand that it is a business and there is nothing you can do about it. I took advantage of my opportunity here and some great things happened for me here.”

    INJURY UPDATE

    With receiver Chris Chambers still not able to participate in practice, the Chargers also were missing their other starting wideout, Vincent Jackson. The team's receptions leader with 17, Jackson slipped and banged his knee on the ground in Wednesday's workout. It continued to hurt, Jackson said, and he was held out yesterday as a precaution.

    Chambers, who leads the Chargers with five touchdowns, could not say with certainty how he might feel Sunday or if he could play on the sore left ankle that was mashed on a tackle against Miami.

    “Hopefully, I can make gradual improvement,” Chambers said. “If I have a chance, I definitely want to be out there with my teammates. But I don't think it's worth rushing it in October to get back on the field if I'm not all the way healthy.”

    The Chargers said Tomlinson (toe), cornerback Antonio Cromartie (hip) and fullback Mike Tolbert (ankle) were limited in practice.

    UT
     
  2. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    the injury bug is killing us. Sure hope VJ is good to go on Sunday.

    Back on topic - I like Applewhite & think he's going to develop into a good player. Hungry is the attitude that we need on this squad right now.
     
  3. ntman68

    ntman68 Well-Known Member

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    I like Applewhite. When he's in there, he always seems to be near the ball. I think he has a bright future with us.
     
  4. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

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    Applewhite needs time to be assimilated into the system; I'm willing to give him that time, although the growing pains may be ugly for awhile.

    And based on his comments, I think Chambers is ou this weekend.
     
  5. Harley

    Harley BoltTalker

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    i dunno, i saw him dogg'in it on a couple o' plays last week. i dunno if he was try'in to make a read or what but he wasn't hussl'in when it was an obvious drop back by the qb.
    hopefully he kicks some butt this week...
     
  6. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    :icon_shrug::icon_huh:
     
  7. Harley

    Harley BoltTalker

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    powerful stuff right there...gonna be ponder'in the mental calculus in that post for a long, long time.
     
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  8. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    The pattern recognition jells all of a sudden. There will be a game, soon, when he comes of age.
     
  9. Zeus

    Zeus BoltTalker

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    Applewhite has shown some ability in special teams and in that game he did put pressure on the QB and did a comparable job to Harris.

    This all being his first live NFL game at that position. I hope to see him improve it is an underdog story.
     
  10. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    Isn't Mr. Applewhite a FA rook?? I don't see how he can play like a seasoned veteran in his first game but then that's just me.
     
  11. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

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    Second season in the NFL, last year and beginning of this year he was on the practice squad. He's got a lot of potential - I loved what he showed in preseason too. He will only continue to improve IMHO.

    PLUS he's a SDSU alumn :icon_banana:
     
  12. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    Thanks for clearing that up. I was to lazy to look it up.:tup:
     
  13. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    We're going to find out if we are as deep as we've been thinking we are.
     
  14. Zeus

    Zeus BoltTalker

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    Applewhite came out of college too early. He was projected as a 2nd day pick, but was never drafted. He did well in the Mountain West conference as a DE, however he is undersized. He moved from a DE to an OLB.

    His first year he was cut, just barely. This year he stayed on and has shown some abilities. I hope he does well, like everyone says he has a lot of potential and given that we will be thin at OLB I think he is a good backup for us.
     

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