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Chargers counting on young DL

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Defensive lineman Alfonso Boone, the newest Charger

    Casey Pearce
    Posted Sep 22, 2009

    Chargers veterans are challenging their young defensive linemen to step up.

    For the first four years of his career, Stephen Cooper[​IMG] was a special teams player and a backup linebacker. When he finally got a chance to be a starter, Cooper elevated his game and became one of the Chargers’ top defensive playmakers.

    In the wake of the Chargers losing defensive tackle Jamal Williams[​IMG] to a triceps injury, Cooper, one of the team’s defensive captains, is challenging some of his young teammates to follow his lead.

    “It’s part of this league,” Cooper said. “Guys have to be ready to play. I was a backup at one point and when my number was called, I stepped up. That’s what we’ve got to have guys do.”

    With Williams out, first-year player Ogemdi Nwagbuo[​IMG] earned his first career start Sunday against Baltimore and rookie Vaughn Martin[​IMG] saw time at nose tackle and end.

    According to Head Coach Norv Turner, the play of his young defensive linemen was strong at times and at others showed that they’re still learning.

    “I think what you’re going to get from young guys is a mixed bag,” Turner said. “I thought we got good play. I thought we got some times where things just happened faster than you’re used to having them happen. The more time they get in there, the more reps they get, the better they’re going to handle it.”

    On Tuesday, the Chargers signed nine-year veteran Alfonso Boone[​IMG] to help in the rotation. Still, young players are going to have to rise to the occasion, and they understand what’s at stake.

    “It’s a big opportunity for all of us and we have to rise to the occasion,” Nwagbuo said. “This team is counting on us. You can’t try to be Jamal Williams. You just have to try to get better every week.”

    Defensive end Luis Castillo[​IMG] knows that losing a key figure like Williams will test the defense as a whole, but his message to his team is to rise to the occasion and make the best of it.

    “When you get a situation like this, it can go two ways: you can look at it as a negative or you can accept the challenge,” Castillo said. “We’ve got some young guys who we believe in and who we believe are going to give us a chance. Every day, every game, they’re continuing to show improvement. That’s only going to get better day in and day out.”

    Last week against Baltimore, the Chargers allowed 84 rushing yards in the first half but only 46 in the second. Cooper hopes that the tale of Sunday’s two halves is a precursor for the season.

    “We struggled a little bit early, but guys made adjustments, stepped up and got better,” Cooper said. “That’s going to have to be the way it is for the rest of the season.

    Regardless of what’s happening, we’ve still got a job to do and we’re going to get it done together.”

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