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Chargers will use all of their defensive line

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    By Kevin Acee , UNION-TRIBUNE
    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 6:51 p.m.

    Sure, if Jamal Williams could step out of a time machine and be the guy who manned the inside, taking on those double teams play after play after play …
    But General Manager A.J. Smith is playing hardball and won’t facilitate a trade for a time machine.
    So the Chargers will continue to employ a defensive line that is more by committee than in the glory days of “You can’t run!”
    They think they’ll be fine with that.
    “Misfortune last year has given us great fortune this year because we’ve got (a number of) guys in that room that you would trust on any down against any team and feel comfortable,” line coach Don Johnson said, referring to the injury-wrought rotation that worked pretty well the final three quarters of the 2009 season.
    Not much substantive can be expected in Thursday night’s preseason finale at San Francisco. The Chargers will use most of their starters just one series and by the third quarter be looking at potential practice squad players and those to which they’ll bid adieu a couple days later.
    However, while the decisions have likely all but been made about who will be kept, the defensive line is still something of a work in progress and key contributors will be on the field in the second half.
    After the Saints ran for 129 yards on Friday, including 90 in the first three quarters, head coach Norv Turner would like to see something tonight that makes him feel even a little more comfortable with his defensive front.
    “A couple of those young guys didn’t play as well against New Orleans as they did against Dallas,” Turner said. “So, I want to go out and see them play good. They took a little bit of a step back, which is normal. It is a different offense. It is on the road. It is a two-day preparation … That’s what usually happens with young guys. So, I think this game will be important for those young defensive linemen.”
    While seven seems to be the likely number, the Chargers could go with as many as eight defensive linemen, because they think they have that many good enough to help and would love the protection of depth they didn’t have in '09.
    It appears at this point that Antonio Garay has emerged as the starter at the nose. Partly because they need to keep Garay, who has battled injuries since coming into the league in 2003, healthy, and partly due to the ability of Ogemdi Nwagbuo and the promise shown by rookie Cam Thomas, Garay will probably not handle close to every snap.
    And the versatility of the group – pretty much everyone except Luis Castillo can play inside, and Castillo has lined up there in the nickel defense – allows for even more movement.
    “I think we’re finding out that there are certain situations where we’ll want to use our big guys and then other times when we want to use guys with better pass-rush ability,” Turner said.
    Turner – and any coach, for that matter - would love to have the beast that Williams was for the middle part of last decade before injuries his final three seasons eventually led the Chargers to release him in February.
    And Turner stated his preference early in training camp that players step up and force the Chargers to forgo a heavy line rotation. But he sounds now as if the ability of Martin, Alfonso Boone and Travis Johnson has the Chargers ready to shuffle more than ever. Additionally, Nwagbuo and Thomas can line up outside at times.
    “We’re not going have a situation where … last year Luis and Jacques (Cesaire) played two-thirds of the time and got 40 plays,” Turner said. “I don’t think we’ll be in that situation. We’ll roll more guys in, and I think sometimes on first down you’ll see bigger guys. We have some big guys. Vaughn Martin is 325. Cam is 335. We have some bigger guys that I think will help us defend the run, particularly some of those teams we’ve had a tough time with who’ve come in and overpowered you.
    “We’ll see the bigger guys early, then use the guys who aren’t as big in second-and-long and third – down situations. But I do believe, as I said in training camp, you want to get to situation where you understand what your guys do best. I think we’re getting a better understanding of that.”
    Turner, along with every defensive coach and player, has talked all summer about being more physical. They believe the mentality will help them come January. But they think doing as they did in ’09 could help them last that long.
    “You win 11 straight games, that has a lot to do with durability and cohesiveness of the group as a whole, guys stepping in,” Johnson said. “It was rampant throughout the team, backup guys stepping up to the plate and holding their own and keeping going.”

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