1. Welcome to San Diego Chargers NFL Football Podcast and Forum!

    Bolt Talk is one of the largest online communities for the San Diego Chargers. We host a regular Chargers podcast during the season. You are currently viewing our community forums as a guest user.

    Create an Account or

    Having an account grants you additional privileges, such as creating and participating in discussions. Furthermore, we hide most of the ads once you register as a member!
    Dismiss Notice

Position Preview: Linebackers

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    Messages:
    23,310
    Ratings:
    +1,703
    By Christopher Smith, Chargers.com
    Posted 5 hours ago
    7-23-2010


    San Diego’s linebackers will continue to capitalize on the team’s 3-4 defense as well as provide crucial support for the special teams coverage units.

    SAN DIEGO – San Diego’s linebackers present an interesting dichotomy. Part rock star and part stage crew, their work is both lauded in the mainstream and appreciated only by the hardcore.
    Beneficiaries of the 3-4 defense, they collect sacks and tackles like fountain looters nab handfuls of loose change. The big bodies on the defensive line control the point of attack to allow the linebackers to swallow running backs or rip quarterbacks to the ground.
    And many of the Chargers’ contingent of linebackers play prominent roles on the team’s kick coverage units as well.
    There’s plenty of wealth to distribute among the group.
    Of the window display variety, outside linebackers Shaun Phillips[​IMG] and Shawne Merriman[​IMG] combined for 11 sacks last year. Phillips led the NFL with seven forced fumbles and tied Larry English[​IMG] for the team lead with 16 quarterback hits. Merriman recorded 20 quarterback pressures, most on the team.
    Stephen Cooper[​IMG] led San Diego in tackles for the third consecutive season with 102 and played 940 snaps in the middle of the Chargers’ defense. Kevin Burnett[​IMG] made a career-high 49 tackles inside after he spent the first four seasons of his career in Dallas. Brandon Siler[​IMG] became one of the breakout defensive players of the AFC West, making 67 tackles and two sacks.
    Some of the team’s special teams standouts were hurt a year ago. Injuries forced Antwan Applewhite[​IMG], Jyles Tucker[​IMG] and James Holt[​IMG] to miss time.
    “We’ll get back to being an elite special teams (group),” Turner said. “We weren’t as good last year and it wasn’t because of a lack of effort. It wasn’t that we coached it different. We just had so many changes through the year (due to injuries).”
    Last year’s first-round pick English and this year’s third-round selection Donald Butler[​IMG] will add to the pool of linebackers chasing opposing returners

    "We want to get off the field and get the ball in our offense’s hands." - Stephen Cooper

    English started two games and played in all 17. He set career records at Northern Illinois with 31.5 sacks and 63 tackles for loss. That skill set will translate well, especially when he becomes comfortable enough to play with instinct, Turner said Thursday.
    English feels more acclimated after his first offseason.
    “In comparison with this time last year, it’s a lot different,” he said. “You’re coming in not knowing anything as a rookie and it’s tough getting adjusted. I’m not quite a vet yet, but I do feel a lot better and more comfortable.”
    As part of the defenses’ directive to be more assertive this season and dictate what opposing offenses do, the linebackers want to make sure quarterbacks don’t have time to throw and anyone roaming the middle of the field has to worry about securing the football.
    “We want to get off the field and get the ball in our offense’s hands,” Cooper said. “We want to get a lot more turnovers, a lot more sacks and I think our game plan this year is looking real bright and we’re going to get after the quarterback and make a lot of plays.”
    Said Butler: “Competition brings out the best. We have a great group of guys, all who are hard workers and can make plays out there on the field.
    “As a young rookie coming in, that’s just going to help me that much more, because not only do you get that competition aspect from those older guys, but you also want to learn from it, and that’s going to help me out tenfold.”
     
  2. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    Messages:
    23,310
    Ratings:
    +1,703
    LINEBACKERS AT A GLANCE

    [​IMG]
    SHAWNE MERRIMAN
    Size:
    6-4, 265
    Exp.: 6
    Career GP: 57

    Returned to the field last season after major knee surgery, but fought through foot and groin problems as well as double teams to record four sacks … Made 39.5 sacks from 2005-07 … Selected as All-Pro and chosen for the Pro Bowl in each of those three seasons … Hopes to recapture old form this season with a return to health.


    [​IMG] SHAUN PHILLIPS
    Size: 6-3, 250
    Exp.: 7
    Career GP: 92
    Led the NFL last year with seven forced fumbles … Also led San Diego with seven sacks … Tied Larry English for the team lead with 16 quarterback hits … Missed only three games in the last four season … Has recorded at least seven sacks every year since 2005.

    [​IMG]
    STEPHEN COOPER
    Size:
    6-1, 235
    Exp.: 8
    Career GP: 108

    Played 940 snaps last season, most of any member of the Chargers … His 102 tackles led the team for the third consecutive season … Overcame odds as an undrafted player out of the University of Maine to become consistent NFL linebacker … Reached 100 tackles in two of the last three seasons.

    [​IMG]
    KEVIN BURNETT
    Size:
    6-3, 240
    Exp.: 6
    Career GP: 72

    Recorded a season-high 14 tackles Sept. 27 against Miami in one of his first games with San Diego … Spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys … Has made 164 tackles and 6.5 sacks during his career … Races remote-controlled cars competitively and has a track built in his back yard.

    [​IMG]
    LARRY ENGLISH
    Size:
    6-2, 255
    Exp.: 2
    Career GP: 16

    Last year’s first-round pick made 36 tackles and two sacks as a rookie … Played 539 snaps and tied for the team lead with 16 quarterback hits … Twice won the Vern Smith Leadership Award as the top player in the Mid-American Conference while at Northern Illinois … Made 31.5 sacks in college, most all-time in UNI history.



    [​IMG]
    BRANDON SILER
    Size:
    6-2, 239
    Exp.: 4
    Career GP: 46

    Played in all 16 games last season, starting seven … Made 67 tackles, two sacks, two passes defensed and one interception … Named one of the NFL’s most sure tacklers by Football Outsiders … Continues to be one of the team’s top special teams players after making 21 tackles there as a rookie in 2007.



    [​IMG]
    DONALD BUTLER
    Size:
    6-1, 248
    Exp.: R
    Career GP: 0

    Selected in the third round after San Diego made a trade with San Francisco to move up 12 spots … Bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times at the NFL Combine, most among linebackers … Expected to make major special teams contributions and compete for time at linebacker … Made 94 tackles as a senior at Washington.



    [​IMG]
    ANTWAN APPLEWHITE
    Size:
    6-3, 258
    Exp.: 3
    Career GP: 15

    Made 20 tackles and a half-sack as a rookie in 2008 … Hamstring injury nearly cost him the entire season last year … Kept the Chargers from playoff elimination in ’08 by forcing a fumble on an onside kick against the Kansas City Chiefs in mid-December … Made first-team All-MWC as a junior at San Diego State.



    [​IMG]
    JYLES TUCKER
    Size:
    6-3, 258
    Exp.: 4
    Career GP: 26

    Recovered from a left ankle injury that forced him to miss season opener last year to play in the next seven games … Injured his right ankle while covering a punt Nov. 8 against the New York Giants … Recorded nine sacks in ’07 and ’08.



    [​IMG]
    JAMES HOLT
    Size:
    6-2, 223
    Exp.: 2
    Career GP: 9

    Made 10 tackles on defense last season as a rookie, but also contributed on special teams … Placed on Reserve-Injured on Jan. 6 after a shoulder injury Week 17 against Washington … Named All-Big 12 as a senior at Kansas … Finished senior year with 105 tackles, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception.
     
  3. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    Messages:
    23,310
    Ratings:
    +1,703
    [​IMG]
    DARRY BECKWITH
    Size:
    6-0, 242
    Exp.: 1
    Career GP: 0

    Spent last season on the Chargers practice squad after San Diego signed him as an undrafted free agent out of LSU … Finished his college career with 188 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions ... Twice named second-team All-SEC.



    [​IMG]
    BRANDON LANG
    Size:
    6-3, 266
    Exp.: R
    Career GP: 0

    Made 18 sacks as a junior and senior at Troy University while playing defensive end in a 4-3 formation … Began his college career at Hargrave Military Academy … Feels natural rushing the quarterback as an outside linebacker but must work to refine the other portions of the position.



    [​IMG]
    KION WILSON
    Size:
    6-0, 240
    Exp.: R
    Career GP: 0

    Made 93 tackles, intercepted a pass and sacked one quarterback as a senior at South Florida … Sprints to the locker room after each practice as a tribute to his murdered brothers … Ran a 5K in under 18 minutes in high school despite weighing 210 pounds … Conditioning and energy are among his biggest attributes.



    [​IMG]
    MIKE NIXON
    Size:
    6-3, 232
    Exp.: R
    Career GP: 0

    Made honorable mention All-Pac-10 as a weakside linebacker at Arizona State … Led the conference with five interceptions in 2008 … Spent five years as a catcher in the Dodgers minor league system before enrolling in college … Reached AAA with the Las Vegas 51s … Hit .267 with 11 home runs and a .991 fielding percentage.
    Week 1 starting linebackers, 2000-09:

    2000: Gerald Dixon, Orlando Ruff, Junior Seau.
    2001: Gerald Dixon, Orlando Ruff, Junior Seau.
    2002: Ben Leber, Donnie Edwards, Junior Seau.
    2003: Ben Leber, Zeke Moreno, Donnie Edwards.
    2004: Ben Leber, Donnie Edwards, Randall Godfrey, Steve Foley.
    2005: Ben Leber, Donnie Edwards, Randall Godfrey, Steve Foley.
    2006: Shawne Merriman, Randall Godfrey, Donnie Edwards, Shaun Phillips.
    2007: Shaun Phillips, Stephen Cooper, Matt Wilhelm, Shawne Merriman.
    2008: Shaun Phillips, Derek Smith, Matt Wilhelm, Shawne Merriman.
    2009: Shaun Phillips, Stephen Cooper, Kevin Burnett, Shawne Merriman.

    Week 1 linebackers on roster, 2000-09:

    2000: Gerald Dixon, Orlando Ruff, Junior Seau, Deon Humphrey, John Reeves, Steve Tovar, Shannon Taylor.
    2001: Gerald Dixon, Orlando Ruff, Junior Seau, Deon Humphrey, Zeke Moreno, Sam Rogers, Carlos Polk.
    2002: Ben Leber, Donnie Edwards, Junior Seau, Zeke Moreno, Carlos Polk, Orlando Ruff.
    2003: Ben Leber, Zeke Moreno, Donnie Edwards, Carlos Polk, Stephen Cooper, Matt Wilhelm.
    2004: Ben Leber, Donnie Edwards, Randall Godfrey, Steve Foley, Shaun Phillips, Zeke Moreno, Stephen Cooper, Matt Wilhelm, Carlos Polk.
    2005: Ben Leber, Donnie Edwards, Randall Godfrey, Steve Foley, Stephen Cooper, Matt Wilhelm, Shaun Phillips, Marques Harris.
    2006: Shawne Merriman, Randall Godfrey, Donnie Edwards, Shaun Phillips, Tim Dobbins, Carlos Polk, Stephen Cooper, Matt Wilhelm, Marques Harris.
    2007: Shaun Phillips, Stephen Cooper, Matt Wilhelm, Shawne Merriman, Tim Dobbins, Carlos Polk, Marques Harris, Anthony Waters.
    2008: Shaun Phillips, Derek Smith, Matt Wilhelm, Shawne Merriman, Tim Dobbins, Brandon Siler, Marques Harris, Anthony Waters.
    2009: Shaun Phillips, Stephen Cooper, Kevin Burnett, Shawne Merriman, Tim Dobbins, Larry English, Brandon Siler, Antwan Applewhite, Jyles Tucker.
     
  4. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Ratings:
    +408
    Butler needs to take Cooper's job away from him - period.
     
  5. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    Messages:
    23,310
    Ratings:
    +1,703
    I just hope one of these Linebackers can do a back flip... :lol:
     
  6. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Messages:
    17,098
    Ratings:
    +3,551
    I want to see English beat out Merriman. Nothing would be more damaging to Merriman's ego or his leverage in negotiations than losing his starting spot in a contract year.

    On the other hand, I'd love to see SM blow up into a superstar again, and then trade him for a kings ransom before the deadline.
     
  7. charger1993

    charger1993 bad motherfucker

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,910
    Ratings:
    +162
    nah man i want SM to be his old self make the d better
     
  8. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,980
    Ratings:
    +200
    Personally I think we now have the best linebacking corp in the league. If butler gets adjusted fast to the nfl we will have the best linebacking corp.

    D-line should be more solid. d-backfield should be more solid.

    defense should be better. That should get us our first lombardi.
     
  9. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Messages:
    17,098
    Ratings:
    +3,551
    There are too many IFs involved. Siler needs to keep getting better, Merriman needs to rebound, English needs to learn another pass rush move, Butler needs to steal Coopers job etc...

    I'd put us in the top 10 but not 1st.
     
  10. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Ratings:
    +408
    Why so down on Merriman? Did he steal your GF? :icon_tease:
     
  11. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,980
    Ratings:
    +1,394
    Got to agree with matilack there. Our unit has a lot of potential to be really great at all levels (Wilson reminds me a lot of Siler when we first drafted him... a smaller, fireplug-type who will out-effort practically everyone else on the field).

    However, until at the very least Shawne shows he's able to replicate at least 85-90% of his pre knee-injury form or English does that for him (something I still think LE is another season minimum away from doing because he's simply not the physical/athletic freak that SM was when he came into the league)... we're not in that echelon of LB units that have both polish and potential like Pittsburgh (yes, they're aging but they're still some of the best in the business), Dallas (and they've started reloading the interior), and Seattle.
     
  12. foober

    foober BoltTalker

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,980
    Ratings:
    +200
    I'm just figuring our linebackers will be healthy and motivated this year. And if our d-line can stay healthy this year. I got hopes for our defense this year.
     
  13. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Messages:
    19,108
    Ratings:
    +2,928
    Pittsburgh is aging very rapidly and has their own issue with a top flight pass rusher (Woodley), beyond that they're very old and running down. Seattle is in ok shape, Dallas is good as well. We have lots of options however I expect this to be no worse then a middle of hte pack LB corps. THIS isn't detroit or oakland or whatnot, we do have solid LBs even if we are waiting for the best to rise to the top
     
  14. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Ratings:
    +408
    We need to get English & Butler on the juice - stat!!!! :icon_toast:

    Also, put some gunpowder in Cam Thomas's meals - he's too damn nice. :icon_twisted:
     
  15. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Messages:
    5,482
    Ratings:
    +629
    I would much rather him beat out that punk Phillips
     
  16. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Messages:
    17,098
    Ratings:
    +3,551
    I'd be ok with that, but Phillips (like it or not) is better in coverage and playing in space than both Merriman and English. SM and LE are pure pass rushers, I like SP because we can flip him to ILB without missing a beat.
     
  17. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Messages:
    14,279
    Ratings:
    +1,886
    The potential is there in the group of guy's already assembled. They have to want it, the coaches can give them the best scheme in the world but they have to execute. If Merriman can step up and be a true leader maybe it will happen. It's time someone on that team took off the kiddie gloves and kicked some ***. I don't care if Cro was a teammate he was also a coward as viewed by millions of people. Don't be afraid to hurt someones feelings if they're not getting the job done. They are being paid like men so they need to act like men. I don't care to hear about them just being poor stupid college boy's, save that for the next Vet you meet from Iraq.
     
  18. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Messages:
    7,894
    Ratings:
    +347
    Jamal lived around the corner from me. He was rather affable off the field, too.
     
  19. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Ratings:
    +408
    That may well be, but Cam Thomas is a long way from being a Jamal.

    Jamal turned it on on the field. I hope Thomas does too, but I didn't see much aggression in his play at UNC. Certainly not on any consistent level.
     

Share This Page