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Bolt draftee: Can he clog the middle?

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, May 7, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    [​IMG]

    At 330 pounds, Thomas is a load; his consistency has been questioned


    By Kevin Acee, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
    Friday, May 7, 2010


    The Chargers drafted another former basketball player last month.

    He hails from a small town pretty much smack in the middle of North Carolina. The kid knows his hoops, can handle the rock and is not afraid to say so.

    “Big boys can play ball,” Cam Thomas said, not at all braggadocios but more country confident. “I can prove the nonbelievers wrong about playing basketball. … I be out there dunking. I just dunked the other day. I can show you if you want me to.”

    Guaranteed, the Chargers’ cadre of ballers will want to see what the 6-foot-4, 330-pound rookie from Robbins, N.C., can do on the court.

    But the team as a whole will be much more interested in what Thomas does in confined space.

    After biding their time as long as they could, having considered spending an earlier pick on him, the Chargers traded up 13 spots in the fifth round to take Thomas.

    They did so with the belief he can develop into a reasonable facsimile of what they once had at nose tackle.

    Thomas and the team’s other rookies are in town this weekend for a two-day rookie orientation that begins this morning at Chargers Park. (It is closed to the public.)

    While first-round pick Ryan Mathews is taking over for a legend at running back, Thomas won’t face that kind of unaccompanied pressure. But he is expected to be part of a rotation that is moving a franchise away from an era, replacing a defense’s cornerstone.

    The Chargers may never again have a Jamal Williams. And while there is no accounting for external expectations, the team won’t be asking Thomas to be Williams.

    “There are very few guys that have been drafted over the last 10 years that I’d compare to Jamal Williams, so I wouldn’t do that to anybody,” head coach Norv Turner said the day the Chargers drafted Thomas. “You get around a guy like Jamal once every 10, 15 years in this league. … I wouldn’t do that to (Thomas), but we’re excited to have him and I think he can be a real good football player for us.”

    Thomas will be part of a rotation expected to include Antonio Garay and Ogemdi Nwagbuo. How soon and how much Thomas plays is dependent on the health and continued development of Garay and Nwagbuo, as well as Thomas’ own progress.

    Cautions Thomas’ college coach: “I don’t care who you are — (Ndamukong) Suh, Gerald McCoy, anyone — defensive line is one of the most difficult transitions of any positions, going from college to the NFL.”

    That’s Butch Davis, the Cleveland Browns’ head coach from 2001 to ’04 and also a defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys in the early ’90s and the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator in 1993 and ’94. Davis took over the University of North Carolina program before Thomas’ sophomore season and wishes his staff had Thomas for another year or two — for everyone’s sake.

    “He has a little bit of untapped potential,” Davis said.

    Tar Heels defensive line coach John Blake, also on the Cowboys’ staff when that franchise won two Super Bowls in three years in the early ’90s, concurs.
    “His future, his upside is great,” Blake said. “He’s got to put the complete package together.”

    As there were on pretty much every player entering the draft, there were knocks on Thomas.

    The biggest was inconsistency, something the Chargers acknowledged as a factor in how they were able to get a player in the fifth round that some had projected as going as high as the second round.

    “I think that’s common with big men like him,” said John Spanos, the Chargers’ director of college scouting. “Guys with that size tend to wear down a little easier. … That’s something our coaches will work with him on. He has some other things, as well, he can improve on technically in terms of consistency.”

    Davis and Blake have been blunt with Thomas about that fact, warning him the majority of the offensive linemen he saw in college will be selling insurance soon and he’ll be facing guys as big as he is and way more crafty than he ever imagined.

    “I’ve got to be more consistent,” Thomas said this week. “They said I’ve got to work on that once I get to the league. … I’ve got to try to look at everybody like they’re the All-Pro and make my intensity better.”

    Blake said he had to challenge the affable Thomas, who doesn’t seem to go more than a few seconds at a time without a laugh, to “not worry about hurting nobody. Turn that 320 pounds loose.”

    Said Blake: “He’s a lot of fun. He’s not naturally a mean guy.”

    Thomas played both tackle positions in the 4-3 defense the Tar Heels run. Scouts who visited Chapel Hill were most impressed with his versatility, but Thomas’ size and immense strength made him particularly intriguing as a nose tackle in a 3-4.

    For Thomas’ seemingly nonstop joking, Davis said, “I know his heart is in the right place. He’s going to work extremely hard to become a good player in the NFL.”

    The Chargers would be happy if he developed into a player who can clog the middle on first and second (running) downs. He believes he’s up for playing what is routinely acknowledged as the most brutal job in the Chargers’ type of defense, taking on two blockers in order to disrupt an offense’s running attack.

    “I can hold my own,” Thomas said. “I’m not going to let anybody punk me around. … My potential, everything goes right, it can be scary.”

    And that basketball ability may not be wasted here, even if the Chargers discourage he get involved in pickup games with Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson.
    “He has more (athleticism) than you realize,” Blake said.

    “At nose tackle, they’re not going to ask him to do a tremendous amount of this, but he has the skills to be a better pass rusher than we showcased him as,” Davis said. “He’s got the ability to collapse the pocket, maybe make a quick move to get the quarterback off his mark.”

    Spanish radio deal

    The Chargers announced a deal with Uniradio that will keep their Spanish-language broadcasts on XHFG-FM (107.3) for the next three years.
     
  2. Rainman

    Rainman BoltTalker

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    How do you say "Everybody into the pattern!" in Spanish? :lol:
     
  3. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

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    "Donde esta el Bano...." :lol:
     
  4. Cheapseats

    Cheapseats Loud, proud Charger fan

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    Isn't that where Lee "butterknife" Hamilton gets his exclusives from an anonymous source?
     
  5. in_a_days

    in_a_days dgaf

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    Hmmm... that article really doesn't give me a great deal of confidence in Thomas. The transition from CFB to the NFL is about taking things seriously not cracking jokes and trying to have a laugh every two seconds. Hope he learns to get serious in the very near future.
     
  6. ThunderHorse17

    ThunderHorse17 Lone Wolf

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    Good read thanx for posting it.

    Its not so bad its a balance they are trying to acheive between nice guys and nasty guys. So far we got Nasty last year and this year is lookin like some Nice guys.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Rainman

    Rainman BoltTalker

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    "Ahorita!!!" :lol:
     
  8. Rainman

    Rainman BoltTalker

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    Wouldn't doubt it!

    "This just in of the High Speed Outhouse Line..."
     
  9. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

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    Heck, WE have better Charger insights than Butterknife! :lol:
     
  10. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    Todos en el modelo. I like that. I think I'll add it to the family crest.
     
  11. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    I agree. On Kevin Acee's mailbag, he was asked which DL will make the team since there are 11 on the roster, his answer was Castillo, Garay, OG, Martin, Thomas, and Cesaire, and is they go with 7 throw in Johnson, Boone, or Bingham.

    What scares me is that 3 of the 6 he speculates are young and VERY raw! I understand having raw project type players, but 3 of the 6 at a positions? Then 2 others are career backup/role player type guys. Neither are legit NFL startersThat leaves me concerned.

    Just go dump Garay, and bring in Henderson and I would be less concerned, but I know it isn't happening
     
  12. ETicket

    ETicket Well-Known Member

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    Hmmmm.... a guy cracks jokes in an interview and that equates to not playing good football?

    Big Mac and I disagree.
     
  13. ETicket

    ETicket Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    See. he knows where the ball is. :lol:
     
  14. in_a_days

    in_a_days dgaf

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    Nah it's not just crackin' jokes, I don't like his quote either.

    I don't even know what that last sentence means, but if it's supposed to read "(if) everything goes right" then I like it even less. In English class I suppose you'd call it passive voice vs active voice. The sentiment is "if this thing happens" rather than "if I do this thing." I wish he had the confidence and ego to say "it's going to be scary when I'm out there at my full potential," rather than talking about what can happen if he feels like working hard. I know I'm in over-analytical land, but it's a pet peeve I guess... tells you a lot about how a person thinks.
     
  15. SD Native WY

    SD Native WY Well-Known Member

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    I don't know I think you are bein pretty hard on dude. He hasn't even played yet. i am goin to give him a chance.
     
  16. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    I am definitly going to give him a shot. I just don't like the idea of going into the season with 2 very raw young guys rotating at NT with the 3rd part of the rotation being a 30 year old career backup 4-3 DT, who has 16 total games played.

    I don't expect the team to go get Haynesworth or any other big money guy like that, but can we get a proven vet like Henderson to act as a stop gap until Thomas and OG are ready to take over the job full time?
     
  17. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    For someone who nearly every fan on every forum has salivated over, Henderson's been pretty much "out of sight, out of mind" the last several weeks. He was supposed to meet with several teams, but cancelled those.

    Dude's MIA. His next visit will be on the side of a milk carton.
     
  18. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    I was just throwing out a name. I don't know who is available, nor who has been available all off season. I also don't know why he has canceled his meetings. Maybe he would just rather retire than play for a crappy team. He isn't old.

    But it does disturb me that we are going into the season with probably only 6 or 7 defensive linemen, 3 of which are young, raw, and will likely not make a big impact this year (Although they will all 3 probably be better in the next year or 2).

    This team has way more expectation from players who have never shown they can meet the expectations. To me, this "rotation" is no different than when the Padres were "platooning" crappy players in the OF rather than getting one quality player to be the full time starter
     
  19. in_a_days

    in_a_days dgaf

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    I know, I am being hard on him. Really I want nothing but success for the guy. I, personally, put high premiums on work ethic and smarts and have a slightly negative disposition towards Cam based on his reputation. I realize I'm looking for a reason to knock the guy. But really... I will be as happy as anyone if he steps up and plays like an All Pro. :yes:
     
  20. Alpenbolt

    Alpenbolt BoltTalker

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    This.

    Dude, the guy is a nose tackle. They eat, fart, and tackle. I am happy he can string a couple sentences together.
     
  21. in_a_days

    in_a_days dgaf

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    touche :lol:
     
  22. SD Native WY

    SD Native WY Well-Known Member

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    Good thought..... and true!

    If Cam can bring some humor and some work ethic maybe our D will have a different fun attitude and kick some ***.
     
  23. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Although I do think he will be good, I don't expect him to have much impact this year. Same goes for Martin and OG. I just see our line struggling again while the kids develope, and it resulting in a lack of pass rush again, poor run defense, and a secondary that struggles.

    All our defensive issues have been the result of the NT being a weak spot for the last few years since Jamal has been injured.

    In a year or 2, I think our line will rock. But this year, I think it will struggle again.
     
  24. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    They might struggle some early, but not as much as last year, and I would expect them to gel by the time they get several games under their belts. I haven't heard much about progress in the off season conditioning programs.
     

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