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English makes strides as heir to Lights Out

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Thursday, December 31, 2009

    SAN DIEGO – Romo. Yeah, that’s the one.
    Of all the many near-misses — well, near-hits — that’s the open shot Larry English wants back the most. The waist-high fastball.
    The logo on the Dallas Cowboys helmet worn by Tony Romo might as well have been a guiding star for English, so clear was the Chargers rookie linebacker’s path to the quarterback in that game of Dec. 13. The sheer exhilaration from the possibility of the sack wasn’t due to the big stage — the new Cowboys Stadium, the national-television audience, a statement game for the Chargers — as much as the seemingly sure thing at hand.
    “I beat the tackle clean with an inside move and had a clean rush, a clean angle to (Romo),” said English yesterday. “I stayed on his upfield shoulder because he likes to spin out a lot of times.”
    Describing how he was about to wrap up the quarterback, English suddenly pretended to be Romo, bowing at the waist and twisting his torso.
    “He felt me and was able to duck under me, like this,” said English, still bent over. “Just as I got to him, he ducked, and he got away clean.”
    Still, English has shown the ability to “bring the heat,” in the words of General Manager A.J. Smith, explaining on draft day why he used the Chargers’ No. 1 pick and the league’s 16th overall selection on English. Never mind that English primarily was a defensive end at Northern Illinois who’d be playing mostly outside linebacker with San Diego.
    The Chargers have veterans Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips on the outside, so English’s time on the field has been far more limited than he might’ve gotten with other teams. But he’s managed to show signs of why he appealed so much to Smith. With Merriman in the last year of his contract, coming off knee surgery that sidelined him virtually all of 2008 and battling plantar fasciitis throughout much of this season, English is the successor apparent to the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker who lockers right next to him.
    English has two sacks — recorded in back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Denver — to Merriman’s four. Compared to Merriman’s 71/2 quarterback knockdowns and four hurries, English has nine knockdowns and four hurries.
    “Larry’s done great,” said head coach Norv Turner. “You know, it’s a transition, from being a hand-to-ground pass rusher to outside linebacker, but he’s really made progress and is understanding of what we’re asking him to do. He’s been close to making big plays. When you’re as close as he’s been with consistency, they’re gonna come.”
    Turner said the difference between the close plays and the made plays is the NFL. English agrees, to a point, recalling his transition from high school to college ball and the fact that he only had one sack his freshman year at Northern Illinois. As a sophomore, he had a dozen sacks en route to a career total of 311/2.
    “The assumption is that sacks come with time,” said English. “Sacks are funny in that they seem to come in bunches. There’ve been a couple that I should’ve had, guys I could’ve had and should’ve put away, like Romo. It’s a matter of being a bit quicker, coming off the edge tighter, your technique being a little bit better, taking the angle a little bit faster.”
    In other words, the improvement that comes with experience and consistency. Even as a top draft choice, English said he came to the Chargers with no expectations of being plugged directly into the 3-4 defense, especially one that’s become so dependent on overall depth at the linebacker position.
    English’s one start came in the game at Cleveland, where Merriman was deactivated to allow his foot injury to calm down, but logic would indicate the possibility of another start Sunday. The regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins, followed by next weekend’s first-round bye in the playoffs, affords the Chargers the opportunity to let some of their more battered players heal.
    “When I first came here, I knew that they had two really good players I could learn a lot from, and I knew I’d be getting my chances,” said English. “I feel like I’ve made some progress. This is something that’s new for me, especially coming from D-end, constantly learning.
    “It’s up to me and the work ethic I put forth to get everything down. I think I’m moving forward.”
  2. IFiredCHart

    IFiredCHart Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2009
    English always seems to make his way into the backfield but misses the sack...but the fundamentals are definitely there to develop into a solid OLB in this league.

    You want to look at the picture of a 1st-round OLB bust? Go to donkey nation and ask the fans how much they like Robert Ayers. :lol:
  3. RipTheJacker

    RipTheJacker Well-Known Member

    May 31, 2006
    This was my biggest knock on Jyles Tucker last year, and really wished English would do a better job at that

    But, hes still young, and should improve in time, and give us a great pass rusher opposite Phillips if merriman does leave, or a great 3rd rusher if Merriman stays, im still holding on hope on the latter
  4. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Aug 17, 2006
    I hope somehow we can keep merriman one or two more years with the mess up of the union thing. Along with an improving english and having phillips we would have some studs coming off the edge.

    merriman has been hurt all this year. We all know that. I'm guessing next year he'll be back to normal. Which is the best pass rusher in the league.:yes:
  5. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

    Aug 14, 2006
    If we can't keep Merriman, theres a good guy named English coming up in this next draft too! Auston English, 6'3 260lb pass rushing DE/OLB from Oaklahoma. Also surprisingly good in coverage as he used to play saftey. Projected 3-4th round.

    Wouldn't that be ironic and confusing.

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