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D-line is young, but growing together

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Blue Bolt, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

    Oct 28, 2009
    Bolts' D line has bright future but short history
    By Kevin Acee
    7:12 P.M. AUG. 1, 2013

    Practice was over Wednesday afternoon when Corey Liuget was approached by a group of rookies and asked if he would help them with their technique.

    Liuget obliged, commencing an on-field clinic for undrafted rookies Byron Jerideau, Brandon Moore and Kwame Geathers. Cam Thomas, who had been tending to another obligation, showed up after a while to offer additional wisdom.

    Before the players returned to the locker room, they knelt together in prayer, something the group has been doing after every practice since before any of the current defensive lineman arrived.

    Jacques Cesaire, Luis Castillo, Antonio Garay, et al, are gone. But they are not forgotten – in the form of what they passed down to Liuget and Thomas being paid forward.

    “We’re a new generation right now,” Liuget said. “But we still keep the tradition of what those guys brought to the Chargers organization and what they mean and how they just structured that role … Cam is stepping up, and myself also. Cam is still showing me the ropes. He was with those guys longer. For me to be able to help a young guy and show them what it takes to make the team is very good because I’m helping this team out overall.”

    “You never know, our D-line is young, and I may go down or Cam may go down, one of us may go down, and we need someone to step up and be able to fill that role.”

    Good looking out. And good thing.

    Because this defensive line may well be long on potential, but it is definitely short on experience.
    While we’re accustomed to obsessing over the state of the Chargers offensive line, the other line presently is a concern as well.

    With Liuget and Kendall Reyes both showing in the second half of last season that they will make us rethink what a defensive end in a 3-4 defense is capable of and Thomas developing slowly but surely at nose tackle, the line has an immense upside. But, as a whole, its depth is thin enough to see through and relatively young enough to breast feed.

    Thomas is entering his fourth season, Liuget his third and Reyes his second. Jarius Wynn, signed in April, is entering his fifth season, though he has started just four games.

    As for experience, that’s pretty much it.

    With Wynn appearing on track to make the roster, that leaves a likely two spots that, barring a veteran free agent signing, would be filled by undrafted rookies or Damik Scafe, who has played a total of 14 defensive snaps.

    Not since 2004 has there been this much flux in the unit going into a season. Of all the changes at Chargers Park, perhaps no shift has been as dramatic as on the defensive line, which for so long was long on experience.

    When Liuget was a rookie in 2011, Cam Thomas and Vaughn Martin were entering their third season. The other defensive linemen to begin that season with the Chargers were Luis Castillo (in his seventh season), Jacques Cesaire (ninth season) and Antonio Garay (sixth season).

    Thomas’ rookie year, he got to learn from 12-year veteran Jamal Williams in training camp, and ninth-year man Alfonso Boone joined the team in September.

    “I was in the backseat just listening, observing everything, learning,” Thomas said. “Now it’s like ‘Okay, it’s your turn to sit in the front seat now.’ Now it’s like everything they instilled in me, I’m going to instill in (the young) guys.”

    In that the Chargers have used fewer than six different starters on the defensive line just once in the past four seasons, that could well prove beneficial.

    In praising Liuget, Reyes and Thomas for their willingness to share information, Geathers said something that will take some getting used to:

    “They’re older, they’re veterans.”

    On this unit this year, yes they are.
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