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Rebuilt O-line seeking cohesion

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    CHARGERS: Rebuilt offensive line seeks cohesion


    SAN DIEGO — Continuity was king along the Chargers' offensive line for years, with a group of starters and reserves who knew each other well. The bond among the players was as strong as any, built over time by its core members.

    Last season, injuries tore it to the ground. Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman and Scott Mruczkowski went on injured reserve. Guards Tyronne Green and Louis Vasquez were hurt for short stretches.

    The depth chart was decimated, forcing young linemen to play out of position and the personnel department to sign guys off the street. Tony Moll started two games shortly after earning his keep as a bartender. Jared Gaither had an uncertain NFL future when he was brought in.

    All told, 11 linemen started games in 2011. But things went from bad to much, much worse in mid-November when four linemen got hurt in a two-week span. That was after Dielman was lost for the season with a concussion, which temporarily left the Chargers reeling.

    Injuries up front were a major factor in a disappointing an 8-8 season, although the unit's ability to regroup spawned a late-season push for the playoffs.

    That trying experience has not been forgotten by the 2012 offensive line, and has become a credo during training camp. Whether you're a starter or a third-string reserve, you must be ready to play at any time.

    "It's a lesson we all learned," said center Nick Hardwick, who started every game last season and is the line's undisputed leader. "You have to be ready to step in at a moment's notice, and you have to be ready to step in and put a winning performance on the field."

    Some returning linemen went through the trials of 2011. Some did not come back. McNeill was released, Dielman retired, Mruczkowski was not retained, and longtime reserve Brandyn Dombrowski will be out for an extended period (possibly the season) with a foot injury.

    Starting jobs on the left side will go to tackle Gaither and guard Green, who assumed those roles because of injuries last season. The bench was stocked with guard Rex Hadnot and tackle Mario Henderson, veteran players signed in the offseason.

    The turnover, more than in any season in years, means that the line has work to do to be able to operate as one.

    "It's important to work together, communicate and be disciplined every day we practice or sit in a meeting room," Hardwick said. "The communication is the biggest thing. I need to know where a guy's going to react and exactly what he's thinking on every play. That line of communication must be open on the inside between me, (Louis) and (Tyronne) and on out to the tackles. You need to share a brain during live drills, so you're ready to go when it really counts."

    The Chargers aren't just focused on preparing a starting five. They want to find 8-10 players who can carry the offensive line through an entire season, and the injuries that accompany it. There is optimism that the pieces are in place to do so.

    "I believe this group has the qualifications to be superb, but it will only if we stay disciplined," Hardwick said. "It can't be a one-day-on, one-day-off attitude now. We need complete focus on each task, while keeping the end goal in sight. If we sustain that work ethic throughout camp, we could be pretty good."

    The linemen are bringing a blue-collar attitude to training camp practices, and have clearly bought into what Hardwick and line coaches Hal Hunter and Mike Sullivan are preaching.

    The players already appear to be a unified front, hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.

    "There's a heightened level of maturity in this group, and a desire to be great," right tackle Jeromey Clary said. "We know it doesn't happen overnight.

    Everybody understands the importance of this camp and the work left to be done."
     
  2. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

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    IMO these guys will be the key to our season. Rivers is a known quantity, the recievers may be the most well balanced group we've had in years, Gates is healthy, Matthews is talented and if he goes down then I'm sure one of his replacements will be serviceable. If Rivers is upright it should be fun to watch.

    And I like the look of our defense. With a pass rush (fingers crossed) and a maturing/upgraded D-Line our secondary should be fine... as long and the new D coordinator doesn't **** the bed like Manusky.

    To tell you the truth, at the end of last season, I thought the team was in trouble as far as personnel went. But I'm actually pretty happy with what happenned in the off season.

    Still... best laid plans...
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
  3. boltfanatik

    boltfanatik Toxic Minority Member

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    Cohesion with Clary in there?:rolleyes:
     
  4. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Cohesion and Clary-ty. ;)
     
  5. boltfanatik

    boltfanatik Toxic Minority Member

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    Did you mean Clary-try?:laugh: ....False start!
     
  6. HEXEDBOLT

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

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    If they can stay healthy through camp the chances of them growing together into a solid unit exist. But the bug can bite at any time and they do have a couple other big bodies in camp. Just hoping for the best right now.
     

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