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Applewhite still making most of his “chance”

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, May 19, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    [​IMG]

    Casey Pearce
    Posted May 19, 2009

    In his third NFL offseason, Antwan Applewhite is taking reps with the starters and feeling good about the opportunity he’s receiving.

    When Antwan Applewhite[​IMG] went undrafted two years ago after leaving San Diego State a year early, he voiced no regrets over his decision, saying he simply wanted a shot at an NFL roster.

    While his path to the NFL may have taken him a little longer than he initially planned, Applewhite can hardly complain about how things have turned out.

    “I guess things never go exactly the way you want them to go, but like I said a couple of years ago when I signed here, all I really wanted was a chance,” Applewhite said. “Unfortunately (Shawne Merriman[​IMG]) went down last year and that sparked my chance. I worked as hard as I could and basically never looked back.”

    Applewhite received his big break last September when Merriman underwent season-ending knee surgery. The former San Diego State Aztec, who spent 11 weeks on the practice squad in 2007 and one more in 2008, joined the Chargers’ 53-man roster a game into last season. He played in 15 games as well as two playoff contests and was a regular in the rotation at outside linebacker.

    “It was nice to see that patience pay off,” Applewhite said. “After training camp last year, I felt like things clicked for me a little bit. I’d make a play in practice and say to myself, ‘I can do this. I belong here.’ I was able to carry that over into the season once I got my shot.”

    Applewhite found different ways to contribute in his first NFL season. He recorded nine tackles in the kicking game and was a core special teams player. He also recorded 19 tackles on defense as coaches found unique ways to use him.

    “The ways they used me last year showed that they have a little bit of faith in me,” Applewhite said. “They gave me the freedom to do some different things, to spy quarterbacks or come off the edge. It gave me a little bit of confidence in games. I loved it.”

    This summer, Applewhite is receiving his chance to continue to grow. As Merriman continues his rehab, Applewhite is taking most of the first-team reps at the “Sam” (strong) linebacker spot during OCS’s.

    The circumstances are a little different than those he faced the last two years when he was simply fighting for a roster spot, but Applewhite’s attitude hasn’t changed much since he joined the Chargers as an undrafted rookie free agent.

    “Being a free agent, you carry that chip on your shoulder,” Applewhite said. “I’m still at the bottom of the totem pole. I’m still fighting. I think that’s the approach you have to have to be successful in this league, especially for a guy like me.”

    With Merriman’s scheduled return as well as the addition of first-round draft pick Larry English[​IMG], Applewhite isn’t quite sure what his role will be in 2009, but he’s also not thinking much about it.

    “Wherever they fit me in, I just try to make plays,” Applewhite said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m only playing on certain downs or whatever. If it’s special teams, I’ll give you everything I’ve got on every kickoff. I just try to shine in that one play that they give me.”

    Working with the first team this week has gotten Applewhite “into a little rhythm.” He believes he’s benefitting a great deal from taking reps with the first-team defense while defending the Chargers’ offensive starters.

    “I’m just trying to make myself a better player,” Applewhite said. “I just want to be prepared so, just like last year when I get my shot, I’m able to do it perfectly. Whether that be coverage, whether it be rushing, whatever it is. I was ready last year when I got my name called and I want to be even more prepared this year.”
     
  2. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

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    I like Applewhite and he's definitely a solid backup or role player we need on this team. Hard worker, team player and good guy. AJ and Turner should find a role for him, but man, our LB roster is just STACKED now. The competition is going to be fierce and deep at many positions, esp. LB.
     
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  3. Rainman

    Rainman BoltTalker

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    Me too. :yes:

    The guy has made the most of the opportunities he's had. Glad to see him get more opportunity.
     
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  4. MONDO.

    MONDO. Well-Known Member

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    :yes:

    This my friend; is one high-class problem.

    With his familiarity of the defense and knack for making plays I see Applewhite sticking around for quite a while. Who knows we may have a few of the UDFA that end up fighting their way onto the team too..

    Can't wait for the season! CHARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGERS! :bolt:
     
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  5. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Matt Wilhelm is gone... :wave:
     

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