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Chargers notebook: Rookies make impact

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.pe.com/sports/football/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_chargers_notes_31.12a9dc3d.html" target="_blank">Press-Enterprise</a>

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/therookies01.jpg" alt="Merriman and Castillo" />

    SAN DIEGO - Yep, the kids are all right.

    When the Chargers drafted for defense last April, picking linebacker Shawne Merriman with the 12th selection and defensive end Luis Castillo with the 28th, it was uncertain how much immediate help they would provide. It was even less certain, in Merriman's case, when he missed both mini-camps and arrived in training camp late while his contract was being negotiated.

    By the middle point of the season, this much is certain. Both are impact players on a defense that probably needed some fresh blood.

    The two cracked the starting lineup last week in Philadelphia, and both made big plays in Sunday's 28-20 victory over Kansas City. Merriman forced Trent Green to fumble to end one Chiefs excursion into the red zone, and Castillo sacked Green to help derail another.

    "What they added was that element of explosion and big play (capability) that we needed last year," linebacker Shaun Phillips said. "We made plays last year, but we need big plays all the time.

    "Shawne is so explosive, and Luis is just so quick -- 300 pounds and he can shake people any which way, and he's strong."

    Added nose tackle Jamal Williams: "This was awesome. They did a great job .... And I just can't imagine what (Merriman) is going to be. He's just going to get better."

    Merriman finished with five tackles, four unassisted, and two sacks. Castillo had five tackles, three unassisted, and 1"½ sacks.

    "Castillo has a motor that never stops," Merriman said. "He and the rest of our defensive line just create a great tempo for our defense."

    No Hat, No Problem

    Merriman plowed on even after losing his helmet on his sack/forced fumble against Green in the third quarter. It has happened before.

    "Yeah, in college," he said. "I almost knocked myself out. But you can't stop playing because you don't have the helmet."

    Offense's Job Not Done

    There were reasons for frown lines on the offensive side of the ball. After taking a 21-3 first-half lead, the Chargers were limited to one second-half touchdown, and quarterback Drew Brees remained concerned about the lack of strong finishes.

    "Our defense played championship football today," Brees said. "The offense played winning football, but we didn't play championship football.

    "We scored 21 points in the first half and then came out and did what we did in the third quarter" -- two ineffective possessions and a third ended by an interception.

    "We can't do that. We need to play better and help our defense out ... we can't give the other team an opportunity when we're up 21-3."

    Added to the concern: Tackle Roman Oben was helped off and later left the stadium on crutches, with an injury to his left foot that is possibly related to plantar fasciitis.

    A Difficult Task

    Kansas City quarterback Green played three days after the passing of his father.

    "I just wanted to talk about it with my family" before deciding, he said. "You know, there was no hesitation on anybody's part because that's how he would have wanted it. He supported me and had been to every game when he could. I know he loved football and loved watching me play ...

    "I thought about him all day. It made it difficult waking up, knowing he wasn't going to be watching the game. It's going to be difficult next week. It will be the first home game without him. They're season-ticket holders, and I'm hoping to get my mom there. It will be difficult on her, sitting there without him."
     

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