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Bleesed Be The BEEF - McNeill

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Trumpet_Man, Aug 24, 2007.

  1. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006

    How can McNeill top Pro Bowl rookie year?

    Left tackle says he's still growing into job

    By Jay Posner

    August 23, 2007

    Marcus McNeill won accolades for his play after stepping in as the Chargers' left tackle, but he hasn't let it turn his head.

    JOHN GASTALDO / Union-Tribune

    Marcus McNeill won accolades for his play after stepping in as the Chargers' left tackle, but he hasn't let it turn his head.

    In the days before his NFL debut last year, Marcus McNeill had what seemed to be a reasonable goal, especially for a second-round draft pick playing one of the game's most difficult positions.
    “I want people to say, 'This guy here doesn't play like a rookie,' ” McNeill said then.

    In that the Chargers really had no choice but to entrust the vital left tackle spot to the rookie, they were hoping the same thing.

    In retrospect, McNeill and the club were aiming low. Subterranean, even.

    By the end of his first season, McNeill not only wasn't playing like a rookie, he wasn't playing like most veterans. He was better.

    He started all 16 games for a team that had the league's best record, allowed just two sacks, never was penalized for holding and wound up starting in the Pro Bowl. According to Elias Sports Bureau, just two rookie offensive linemen before McNeill even played in the Pro Bowl, Chris Hinton (1983 season) and Richmond Webb (1990).

    “I definitely felt good” about the season, McNeill said after a recent training camp practice. “I had a big chip on my shoulder last year because I felt like I was a real good commodity and I felt like I was going to play well on this level, but then when I kind of slid throughout the draft I was kind of disappointed. But I took that disappointment and put a chip on my shoulder and just wore it the whole year.”

    Whatever he did worked. According to Pro Football Prospectus 2007, McNeill last season “established himself as the best player in the league at the most important line position.”

    Informed of that opinion, McNeill backpedaled as if Shawne Merriman were coming at him in a training camp drill.

    “It's way too soon for that,” he said. “Hopefully in a couple years . . . a few years . . . the end of this year.”

    McNeill was smiling by the time he finished.

    “I'm still growing,” he said. “I'm growing like an infant now. When you're younger you grow faster than you ever do your whole life. That's how I feel like I'm growing right now. Mentally and physically.”

    By growing physically, the 6-foot-7 McNeill means he is getting smaller, at least in terms of weight and body fat. He said he has dropped about 15 pounds since last season, taking him from the 340-pound range down to about 325 but without a corresponding reduction in strength.

    It's all about producing a positive answer to the question: After all he accomplished as a rookie who didn't turn 23 until halfway through the season and played at times with two broken hands, where does he go from here?

    “I looked at last year during the spring,” McNeill said, “and said, 'OK, you did pretty well.' But I've got to put all that behind me because I'm starting all over again. Everybody's used to having the sophomore slump, so I'm trying to stay away from that.

    “No matter how good people might say I am or how much potential they might say I have, I've got to go out with the mind-set that I want to be the best ever. The best tackle, period. I know I've got a lot of growing to do.

    “There are so many good tackles out there right now, and I just have potential. So now I've got to take that potential that everybody says I have and turn it into product.”

    He doesn't think he's displayed a little product already?

    “I've got a little product on the shelf,” he said, smiling again, “but I'm trying to be like an iPhone or an iPod.”

    It's that kind of attitude, offensive line coach Hal Hunter said, that will allow McNeill to continue improving. Hunter said McNeill has been working on his setup and his hand placement.

    “The first thing is realizing he's still got a long way to go,” Hunter said. “He's the first one that admits he's not even scratching the surface. He's light-years ahead of where he was at this time last year, but he still needs to get better and improve.”

    The authors of PFP 2007 said if last year was any indication, McNeill would have a “truly great career.” Hunter wouldn't disagree.

    .......click on pinche linky for more

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