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Opportunities arise for young linemen

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Casey Pearce
    Posted Aug 26, 2009

    Three young defensive linemen have seen their workload and their opportunity increase in the last few days, and Andre Coleman, Keith Grennan and Ogemdi Nwagbuo will do whatever it takes to take advantage of it.

    Chargers defensive end Andre Coleman hung his helmet in his locker Wednesday afternoon after practice, took a deep breath and sat there for a moment.

    “Yesterday there was six of us,” Coleman said. “It was a lot tougher today, but it was really good for us. We had to work on the look squad and do team stuff with the defense. I’m just trying to push it and encourage those other guys.”

    With Jacques Cesaire, Ryon Bingham and Vaughn Martinout with injuries and Jamal Williams and Ian Scott resting Wednesday, the Chargers dressed just five defensive linemen Wednesday, and Luis Castillo was the only one of the group that has played in a regular-season game.

    That meant a lot of reps for Coleman, Keith Grennan, Ogemdi Nwagbuo and Rashad Jackson, but it was practice time that Head Coach Norv Turner believes will be very beneficial for the youngsters.

    “Those young guys need the work,” Turner said. “We’ve got two more preseason games to play so they’re going to get a lot of reps. They’re going to get a chance to show what they can do in these next two games.”

    Coleman, Grennan and Nwagbuo have all spent time on the Chargers’ practice squad. Jackson is an undrafted rookie free agent. Williams and Scott will both play Saturday night when the Chargers travel to Atlanta, but the quartet of youngsters are sure to get plenty of on-the-job training.

    “It’s exciting,” Nwagbuo said. “This is the kind of chance you wait for. It’s going to be tough, but I’m ready for the challenge.”

    Nwagbuo, Coleman and Grennan have played extensively in each of the Chargers’ first two preseason games, and they know the work they receive against the starting offenses both in practice and games have helped them get better.

    “It’s a higher level of competition and you can’t help but get better against those first-team guys,” Nwagbuo said. “They really push you. It’s great.”

    Turner has told his starters to be ready to play up to three quarters Saturday, but a few of the young linemen could see action in all four. It’s a unique situation for the young players, but it’s one each of them will embrace.

    “Opportunity is here and we have to take full advantage of it,” Coleman said. “We all know what we need to do.”

    Gregory returns

    Safety Steve Gregory was back on the field Wednesday after missing some time with a stomach virus. Along with Williams and Scott, tight end Antonio Gates was given the day off to rest.

    “He’s gone so darn hard and has not missed a snap,” Turner said of Gates. “He’s going to be fine.”
    Linebacker Shawne Merriman was also back on the field Tuesday after resting his sore knee Tuesday.

    Another test

    Between the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in Matt Ryan, a Pro Bowler in running back Michael Turner and offensive weapons like Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White, Atlanta’s explosive offense is certain to give the Chargers a great tune up for the regular season. Turner believes Mike Smith’s attacking defense will do the same.

    “They’re a very physical running team,” Turner said. “They’re an explosive passing team that will test our defense much like we had last week. I think this defense is similar to Arizona. They’re very quick, so it’s a great challenge for our guys.”

    Homecoming Kings

    The Chargers have several players on their roster with ties to Atlanta, including Marcus McNeill, Paul Oliver, Charlie Whitehurst, Mike Tolbert and Rodgeriqus Smith.
     

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