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Mruczkowski going home

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Casey Pearce
    Posted Dec 3, 2009
    It appears that center Scott Mruczkowski will get to start Sunday against the team he grew up cheering for, but Nick Hardwick will likely see playing time as well.

    Chargers center Scott Mruczkowski[​IMG] has known for weeks that the day would come when he’d step back and relinquish the starting role he’s held since Nick Hardwick[​IMG] suffered an ankle injury in Week 1.
    “You never lose your job to an injury, so I’ve always been anticipating when Nick (Hardwick) is coming back,” Mruczkowski said. “I haven’t known exactly when that’s going to be, so I’ve just continued to prepare to start and enjoy the opportunity I’ve had this season.”
    It appears as if Mruczkowski will get to enjoy it a little more, and this one will be a little special. “Mooch” is a Cleveland native and he’ll be on the field against the team he grew up cheering for.
    “This is definitely one I’d like to be able to start in and play in,” Mruczkowski said. “I was obviously looking forward to it, playing where I grew up and playing in front of my family. As a kid I loved Bernie Kosar and ‘Touchdown’ Tommy Vardell and Ernest Byner and all of those guys. It’ll be a little special.”
    According to Head Coach Norv Turner, Hardwick is expected to play some Sunday barring setback later this week, but Mruczkowski “will start and play most of the game.” Hardwick and Mruczkowski split snaps with the first team Wednesday.
    Mruczkowski admits he’s been in a bit of an unusual situation the last few weeks. Hardwick began practicing on a limited basis five weeks ago. He had a little setback but has now slowly amped things up and is about to return. Throughout the process, Mruczkowski has kept his focus while not really knowing when he’d step aside.
    “The last couple of weeks, I haven’t known exactly how it’s going to play out,” Mruczkowski said. “It’s not great being in limbo, but you prepare like you’re starting and get ready to go play.”
    The “limbo” stage certainly hasn’t affected Mruczkowski’s play. He’s anchored an offensive line that hasn’t allowed a sack in each of their last two games and has given up just five in the team’s last 174 passing attempts. Three of the Chargers’ top five rushing performances of the season have come in the last three weeks, including a 203-yard effort two weeks ago in Denver.
    “Scott has been outstanding,” Turner said.
    Added running back LaDainian Tomlinson[​IMG]: “It’s always a concern when you lose your center and have a new center come in. You worry about protections and the run game, getting the blocks, but Mooch has done an unbelievable job. He’s a pro.”
    In his first four years with the Chargers, Mruczkowski started twice at guard, but when he entered the team’s season opener at Oakland, it was the first time he’d played center since his college days. He’s seen himself grow immensely over the last 10 weeks, and it’s shown in his play.
    “The game slows down,” Mruczkowski said. “The more and more reps I get, I know where guys are going to be. I can see their moves before I make it. As far as calls and anticipation, everything is slowing down a notch.”
    He’s also taken advantage of the valuable resource he’s had in Hardwick.
    “He’s got a great mind for the game and studies it a lot,” Mruczkowski said. “Every week I ask him for pointers on how to play guys and what he thinks about my game plan going in against the guy I’m playing against. We compare notes and he’s helped me out a lot.
    Mruczkowski has had a blast the last 10 weeks preparing and playing on a consistent basis. When the time comes, he’ll be the team player he is and quietly return to his reserve role, but he’s going to appreciate having time on center stage.
    “When Nick’s ready, he’ll be back out there,” Mruczkowski said. “Getting to be a part of this run we’re on as a team has been so much fun, but I understand my role and what I’m here for.”
  2. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

    Nov 11, 2007
    I've been impressed with how quickly Mooch improved these past few weeks - another thing to consider, we haven't had a single bad snap while he's been filling in for Nick. That's HUGE.
  3. IFiredCHart

    IFiredCHart Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2009
    Last game, it was almost scary how much better of a center Mruz was than the (supposedly) full-timer for the Chiefs.

    The depth of the Chargers has been sustaining this team amidst injuries for 3 years now, and this is the year where the key starters (LT, Gates, McNeill, and Rivers) are finally getting healthy in their own right. But it all starts and ends with the depth, the ability to plug in a capable starter in the absence of a star.
  4. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    Him gelling seems to parallel gradual improvement of LT's numbers and the uptick in red zone effectiveness. Don't have the stats, but that is my impression. PR seems to be spending more time on his feet, too, since Mooch gelled. If Runyan plays well and can be coaxed into one more year, with Mooch and him on the squad, we might not have to press the fat boys we need to draft into starting too fast. I will be watching Runyan Sunday.

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