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Mouton working his way back

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Blue Bolt, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

    Oct 28, 2009
    Chargers' Mouton working way back
    Written by


    Hours after Chargers practice ends, linebackers coach Joe Barry sits in an office, watching film, when his cell phone sounds an alert.

    No surprise.

    It's Jonas Mouton.

    As a rookie last year, football was stripped from the inside linebacker when a preseason shoulder injury forced him to injured reserve. This offseason, the former second-round pick is fighting to take the game back.

    Tuesday marks the latest opportunity.

    After wrapping up 10 days of organized team activities (OTAs) last week, the Chargers will begin a three-day, five-practice minicamp where attendance, for the first time in their nine-week workout program, is mandatory.

    Mouton, 24, has a long road to travel.

    But so far, he's sent the right message.

    “When you get a text from a guy, asking you questions four hours after practice,” Barry said, “it's like, 'OK, this guy is thinking about it when he's out of the building. … Still, he's a rookie. I'm looking at him, and I don't know what the NFLPA classifies him, but I classify him as a rookie.”

    In 2011, Mouton, due to the lockout, didn't have the offseason this year's rookies are having.

    There were no OTAs. There was no minicamp.

    More recently, his prodigal return began on a slow foot, as he was hampered by a hamstring strain early in the workout program.

    Things shaped up at OTAs, where he was a full participant over the three weeks.

    “I think the OTAs have been good for him,” coach Norv Turner said after they ended last Thursday. “I think minicamp will be outstanding for him because we start over with everything that we're doing. He gets to start at square one again, and he gets a chance to be better at it.”

    The Chargers, no doubt, missed Mouton last year.

    His absence shook up their designed rotation at inside linebacker. Takeo Spikes, 35, helped pick up the slack, playing 947 snaps, second most on the defense.

    The team looks is to curtail that figure by developing Mouton for a rotational role. Demorrio Williams, a veteran reserve signed in March, has impressed this offseason and should also see sufficient snaps.

    Mouton went through the motions in 2011, studying in the film room and watching his teammates from the sideline.

    “You've got to actually do it with some of the fastest guys walking the earth,” Mouton said. “It's a lot different, but it's still football. I feel like I'm progressing every day. I'm getting better every day. I'm feeling pretty good about it.

    “I'm just trying to be the player I know I can be. Everybody tells me I have potential. It'll take a little time.”

    The toughest aspect of last season, Mouton said, was to simply not play. Chargers inside linebacker Donald Butler can relate.

    Butler, a third-round pick in 2010, missed his rookie season with a torn Achilles' suffered in training camp. He made a strong return last season, registering 98 tackles, two sacks, and an interception with two forced fumbles.

    Before the season, Mouton asked Butler for advice.

    "He was like, 'Help me,'" Butler said. "'What should I expect? What do I need to do? How did you get through it?' I helped him out as much as I could.

    “The biggest thing is that it's a long process. The rehab, day in and day out, it's going to get frustrating. But you know, stick with it, and your time will come.”

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