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Roster Struggles; Linebackers

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Curtis Egan aka Concudan<em>
    BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <img src="http://i2.chargers.com/assets/178/33083_699w393h.jpg" title="Photo from Chargers.com" alt="Photo from Chargers.com" align="left" height="210" width="279" />In real estate the saying is Location, Location, Location. The saying for the '07 Chargers Linebackers; who have just entered their second week of training camp, seems to be Depth, Depth Depth.

    There are currently thirteen players on the training camp roster. The Linebacker position arguably is one of the top two positions in the 3-4 scheme as far as importance. I would personally rate it second only to the Nose Tackle position. In the 3-4, first employed by Bud Wilkenson devised the alignment at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1940s, there are four linebackers on the field. A strong side (outside) linebacker, who lines up off of the TE, two inside Linebackers, and a weak side (outside) linebacker; this gives the defense the ability to make more adjustments and giv the opposing offense more diverse looks that the standard 4-3 defense which employees only three linebackers on most plays.

    This greater use of the linebackers also requires that you have more of them on the roster. Last season the active roster for the San Diego Chargers held seven line backers; 3 inside linebackers Cooper, Wilhelm, and Dobbins, as well as four outside line backers, Harris, Merriman, Phillips and Polk. Polk and Dobbins saw a majority of their time on special teams, but were also used to relieve other linebackers when needed. The Chargers practice squad held no linebackers in '06 (<em>based on September signings</em>). That means that the current rosters of thirteen players are competing for possibly 9 positions between the active and practice rosters. I believe it is possible the Chargers will keep eight active linebackers and one practice squad linebacker. This will allow the team to maintain a solid backup for one of our most used and important defensive positions, while also holding on to players who could prove to be another diamond in the rough, found by the master diamond finder, General Manager AJ Smith.

    So far this years roster has four undrafted free agents on the team. Most teams this would mean that they are merely camp fodder. Players who's whole purpose is to fill a position in practice until it comes time to make the first cuts of the new season. However the Chargers have been one of the most active teams in the league recently in giving UDFA's a true shot at making the roster. The '06 active roster of line backers is evidence of that. Harris was an undrafted free agent, as was Cooper and Polk. For Harris he has already broken into the starting lineup in several games in '06, Cooper has the ability to do just that this season.

    It would not be a good idea to write off any of the linebacker UFDAs off. The Chargers will give each and every one of the a true shot. They have the defensive coaching know how to pick the best out having Ron Rivera, Ted Cottrell, and John Pagano on the defensive side of the coaching staff this season. One thing is for certain in my mind however. Draft position, tenure or star power will not lock anyone into a position with this team. Play and production are the means to make this roster in the '07 season.

    The numbers game is the question here, with so much talent, and so few roster spots, who are the shoe in's? Not an easy question with this lot.

    So who are the ‘shoe ins' for the team? Most of us know them, but you never know with the NFL, Pro-Bowl players have found themselves cut the following year in the past, as was the case recently with Hanik Milligan, who was a Pro-Bowl Special team's player in 2005, and found himself cut and playing for the Cardinals in 2006.

    We can almost count on the fact that the following players will be back, it is neigh inconceivable that they would be cut, even given the hectic and unforgiving nature of the NFL:

    <strong>CONCUDAN'S SHOE IN'S</strong>

    <strong>#51 Tim Dobbins, LB, 1 year veteran:</strong>
    The Chargers used their fifth-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft to select Tim Dobbins, a compact and powerful inside linebacker who gained valuable experience as a rookie. While his defensive reps were limited, Dobbins became one of the team's top special teams players as he racked up the third-highest tackle total on the team.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Played Weeks 1-16 and in playoff game, primarily on special teams...tied Matt Wilhelm for team lead with two special teams tackles in Week 2...led squad with two special teams stops Week 3 at Baltimore...added two more ST stops at SF Week 5...led team with pair of special teams stops at Buffalo Dec. 3...logged two special teams stops in Dec. 10 win over Denver...collected two special teams tackles Week 15 at Seattle...scored first-career touchdown when he recovered muffed punt in end zone in Dec. 31 season finale against Arizona...score gave Bolts 24-7 lead in third quarter.

    <strong>#54 Stephen Cooper, LB, 4 year veteran:</strong>
    An undrafted free agent in 2003, Stephen Cooper was a long shot to make the team. But now a starting spot at inside linebacker is within reach.

    Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith had a feeling that Stephen Cooper was on the fast track to a breakout season when the Bolts inked "Coop" to a new five-year deal last year before the season even started.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Played Weeks 1-16...started against Cleveland, Denver, at Seattle and vs. Arizona for Randall Godfrey...closed out 27-0 win at Oakland with late fourth-quarter six-yard sack of Andrew Walter...Week 3 at Baltimore, tackled Daniel Wilcox at one-yard line and forced fumble to prevent potential score...ball was recovered by Donnie Edwards...tallied season-high eight tackles and tied team-high with two special teams stops in Nov. 12 win at Cincinnati...turned in stellar performance against Denver Dec. 10 while starting for injured Godfrey...led team with nine tackles, including eight-yard sack, and made two spectacular pass breakups in open field...both pass breakups occurred during same second-quarter drive when Chargers led 21-3 and they helped force Denver to punt...after punt, Bolts put together 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with touchdown for 28-3 lead...collected half-sack and tied for team high with 11 stops at Seattle Dec. 24...shared five-yard sack with Donnie Edwards on second-and-seven play in third quarter...collected lone stop for one-yard loss late in fourth quarter of AFC Playoff game vs. New England.

    <strong>#56 Shawne Merriman, OLB, 2 year veteran:</strong>
    Shawne Merriman turned the "Lights Out" on the opposition in 2006. Merriman wreaked havoc on the NFL, leading the league with a career-high 17 sacks. He had at least one sack in nine different games, including a career-high 3.5 at Seattle on Dec. 24, and three against both Oakland on Sept. 11 and St. Louis on Oct. 29. Merriman capped off this stellar season with his second-straight Pro Bowl selection.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Selected as starter in 2007 Pro Bowl...named first-team All-Pro by Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, USA Today Sports Weekly, Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Football Writers of America (also earning All-AFC honors from PFW &amp; PFWA) and ESPN.com...voted by teammates to receive David Griggs Memorial Award as team's 2006 Defensive Player of Year...named to NFL.com's All-Interview Team...led NFL and team with 17 sacks, tied for second-most in season in team history...led squad with 21 quarterback hits...tied for team lead with four forced fumbles...started Weeks 1-7...Chargers Alumni Player of Week after leading team with three sacks and six tackles, including one for loss, in Sept. 11 season opener at Oakland...tackled LaMont Jordan for four-yard loss in first quarter and after defense held to force punt, offense drove five plays for touchdown and 10-0 lead on ensuing possession...started Oakland's next series with eight-yard sack against Aaron Brooks on first play of drive...after forcing thee-and-out, Bolts offense drove for field goal and 13-0 edge on following drive...sacked Brooks again for another eight-yard loss on third-and-17 play right before two-minute warning in second quarter...logged final sack of night, this one for three yards, on first down play at end of third quarter...once again, defense forced three-and-out and offense answered with touchdown for 20-0 advantage on next possession...logged his first-career interception Week 2 against Tennessee...pick and 10-yard return led to field goal and 26-0 lead on ensuing drive...also tied for team lead with two passes defensed against Titans...collected five-yard sack and led team with two quarterback hits Week 3 at Baltimore...credited with sack against Ravens on final play of third quarter as Steve McNair fell while pulling away from center and Merriman was first to make contact...collected half-sack and tackle for loss in Sunday Night Football victory over Pittsburgh Oct. 8 despite facing barrage of double teams...shared eight-yard sack with Derrick Robinson in second quarter and tackled Willie Parker for three-yard loss in fourth quarter...delivered another big game with sack, tackle for loss and six stops at San Francisco Oct. 15...had six-yard sack on third-down play to force three-and-out on San Francisco's first possession of third quarter...Bolts kicked field goal on next drive to stretch lead to 38-19...on first play of 49ers next drive, tackled running back Frank Gore for one-yard loss and he hit Gore so hard that his own helmet came off...of course he followed hit with his patented "Lights Out" celebration...collected tackle for loss among seven stops at Kansas City Oct. 22...named Defensive Player of Week by USA Today and SportsIllustrated.com after matching career high with three sacks Oct. 29 against St. Louis...first sack of day, seven-yard sack against Marc Bulger on Rams first offensive series of game, helped force three-and-out and Chargers scored touchdown on ensuing drive to go up 14-0 in first quarter...later ended St. Louis' first drive of third quarter with five-yard sack on third down...also ended late third-quarter drive with pressure on Bulger to force incompletion...Bolts scored touchdown on ensuing drive to take 31-10 lead...suspended Weeks 8-11 after testing positive for banned substance in violation of NFL's substance abuse policy...returned to starting lineup Weeks 12-16...in first game back Dec. 3 at Buffalo, racked up two sacks, two forced fumbles and pass broken up at line of scrimmage en route to earning honors as Defensive Player of Week by SportsIllustrated.com...also had quarterback pressure which led to interception by Quentin Jammer on first series of game...midway through second quarter, sacked JP Losman for seven-yard sack and forced fumble which Igor Olshansky recovered on third-and-10 play...on last play of first half, stripped Roscoe Parrish after catch and had fumble recovered by Clinton Hart...then in fourth quarter, sacked Losman again for 12-yard loss on first-and-10 play...recorded two sacks against Denver Dec. 10...was second straight game with two sacks and fourth multi-sack game of year...late in first quarter, sacked Jay Cutler and forced fumble on third-and-14 play at Denver's 14-yard line...after Broncos recovered and punted, Chargers drove 54 yards for TD and 14-0 lead...had even bigger sack on his second go-around...late in fourth quarter, sacked Cutler again and forced another fumble which he recovered by himself at Broncos' own seven-yard line...on very next play, LT scored his record-breaking 29th touchdown of season on seven-yard run...he also ended another early fourth-quarter drive by breaking up pass at line of scrimmage on fourth-and-two play...Chargers converted stop into field goal that allowed them to take 34-20 lead...AFC Defensive Player of Week after racking up career-high 3.5-sacks in 27-20 win at Seattle Dec. 24...was his fifth-multi sack and third three-sack game of season, moving him into league lead with 16 sacks on season...Chargers improved to 5-0 this season and 8-0 in his career when Merriman has more than one sack in game...sacked Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck for four-yard loss on first play of game, sacked him for five-yard loss during second series of game, shared six-yard sack with Jacques Cesaire on third-and-10 play in second quarter and added one for no yards on Seahawks' last series of fourth quarter...his 16 sacks are second-most in season in team history...also comes up with two key passes defensed in Seattle game...closes out season Dec. 31 against Arizona with 17th sack of season to put away NFL sack title...10-yard sack on third-down play in third quarter forced three-and-out by Cardinals at time when Bolts led 24-7...on drive after Cards punted, Bolts added another field goal to stretch lead to 27-7...later in the contest with Chargers up 27-17, Merriman broke up pass on third-and-goal play at two-yard line to force field goal try instead of a potential touchdown...started AFC Playoff game vs. New England and ended their second offensive series with pressure and quarterback hit on third down play to force incompletion and three-and-out...later collected sack for no yards on third down play in fourth quarter...recorded four tackles and forced fumble in Pro Bowl.

    <strong>#57 Matt Wilhelm, LB, 4 year veteran:</strong>
    The Chargers believe that Matt Wilhelm has a bright future ahead of him as a starting inside linebacker. That's why the Bolts inked the former Ohio State Buckeye to a five-year contract extension last December. Now the Chargers have him locked up through the 2011 season.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Played Weeks 1-16 &amp; divisional playoff game on defense and special teams...tied for team high with two special teams tackles Sept. 17 against Tennessee...second on squad with two special teams tackles against Pittsburgh Oct. 8 and he and Clinton Hart combined to tackle Bryant McFadden for two-yard loss on fake punt attempt in first quarter...had big hand in Bolts' 21-14 win over Oakland Nov. 26 by tipping pass at line of scrimmage that was intercepted by Drayton Florence on first play after two-minute warning in fourth quarter...interception came on fourth-and-13 play and Chargers ran out clock for win...also tied for team high with two special teams stops against Raiders...collected pair of special teams tackles in Dec. 24 game at Seattle.

    <strong>#95 Shaun Phillips, LB, 3 year veteran:</strong>
    Shaun "The Other Guy" Phillips exploded onto the NFL scene in 2006. Thrust into the starting lineup after Steve Foley was lost for the season, Phillips excelled in his new starting role and racked up a career-high 11.5 sacks, earning himself a nod as a second-alternate to the AFC Pro Bowl squad. Phillips made big plays throughout the season, including a game-changing sack and forced fumble in Cincinnati that helped the Chargers erase a 21-point deficit and take their first lead of the day in a game they would go on to win, 49-41. He did it again a week later in Denver, racking up a sack and forced fumble against Jake Plummer late in the game that allowed the clock to run out and the Bolts to escape the Mile High City with only their second win since 1994. The Chargers rewarded Phillips for his outstanding play with a new six-year contract in February that will run through 2012.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Second-alternate for AFC Pro Bowl squad...selected to USA Today's All-Joe Team...started Weeks 1-6, inactive Weeks 7-8 with calf injury and back in starting 11 Weeks 9-16 and AFC Playoff game...delivered in big way with 2.0 sacks, five tackles and pair of passes defensed in Sept. 11 season opener at Oakland...teamed with Luis Castillo to sack Aaron Brooks for three-yard loss on third-and-nine play in second quarter...on ensuing drive, Bolts kicked field goal for 13-0 lead...later in second quarter, teamed with Donnie Edwards for seven-yard sack of Brooks...in fourth quarter, sacked Andrew Walter for five-yard loss on third-and-15 play to force Raiders punt...had solid all-around game Week 3 at Baltimore with seven stops, three-yard sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery...collected five-yard sack and forced fumble against Steve McNair on second-and-13 play in second quarter...ball was recovered by Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and only netted three-yard sack for Phillips...in fourth quarter recovered fumble after Donnie Edwards was stripped while returning interception...had perhaps biggest game of his life on NBC's Sunday Night Football against Pittsburgh Oct. 8, finishing game with sack, three tackles for loss and quarterback pressure which led to interception that helped seal victory...had three-yard tackle for loss and sack for no yards on second and third down during opening series of game to force punt...biggest stop may have been when he and Igor Olshansky teamed to stop Najeh Davenport for one-yard loss on a third-and-one play in second quarter...it was his second tackle for loss on that drive and forced Steelers to kick 39-yard field goal after they had begun to move ball at will and appeared headed toward end zone for 14-0 lead...instead, they only went up 10-0 and Chargers scored touchdown on their next possession to trim lead to 10-7...following that drive, Steelers only scored three points rest of night...in fourth quarter with Chargers up 20-13, pressured Ben Roethlisberger into throwing errant pass which was intercepted by Marlon McCree...Bolts offense drove and kicked field goal with 1:05 left in fourth quarter to take 10 point lead and seal victory...recorded fifth and sixth sacks of season Oct. 15 at San Francisco...first sack of game came on third-and-four play with the Bolts up 21-10 in second quarter, sacking Alex Smith for eight-yard loss while forcing fumble at same time...Niners recovered and punted, but San Diego tacked on touchdown on next drive to take 28-10 lead...later in quarter on first play after safety had enabled S.F. to get back within nine points, Phillips tipped Smith pass at line of scrimmage that was then intercepted by Luis Castillo...nine plays later, Bolts tacked on their fifth touchdown of half to go up 35-19...Phillips closed out his day with five-yard sack during San Francisco's final offensive possession of game...left Kansas City game Oct. 22 with calf injury in second quarter and did not return...inactive Weeks 7-8 due to calf injury...turned in outstanding individual defensive effort against Cincinnati in Chargers' 49-41 win Nov. 12...in first game back after sitting out last two with calf injury, made biggest play of game early in fourth quarter when he sacked Carson Palmer and at same time stole ball from him for turnover on Bengals' first play after Chargers had scored touchdown to get within 38-35...on very next play after turnover, LT scored touchdown on nine-yard run and Bolts took lead for first time, 42-38, helping erase 21-point first-half deficit...also finished game with two tackles for loss, tied with Carlos Polk for team high...in second quarter, his three-yard tackle for loss against Rudi Johnson turned second-and-four into third-and-seven...after incomplete pass, Bengals attempted and missed 51-yard field goal try while leading 21-0...Chargers then scored their first touchdown of game on ensuing possession to cut Cincinnati's lead to 21-7...in middle of fourth quarter, Phillips and Marques Harris teamed to stop Chris Perry for another three-yard loss on shovel pass on third-and-six play...it ended Cincinnati drive and forced another field goal that prevented Bengals from re-taking lead late in game, holding score at 42-41...Bolts then drove and scored on their next possession to help seal victory...came up with game-clinching sack in Chargers' 35-27 win at Denver Nov. 19...after Chargers scored to go up 35-27, Broncos got ball back with 1:14 to play...aided by couple of passes and two penalties, Broncos moved to Chargers' 32-yard line with 24 seconds left, but on first-and-five play, Phillips put victory on ice when he sacked Jake Plummer for 14-yard loss and stripped ball from Denver QB...Broncos recovered fumble but as they scrambled to line of scrimmage, time ran out on clock...racked up 1.5 sacks to take over team lead with 9.5 in 21-14 win over Oakland Nov. 26...tallied 3.5 total sacks in two games against Raiders...sacked Aaron Brooks for five-yard loss late in second quarter...then had hand, literally, in one of biggest plays of game...with Oakland up 14-7 and driving early in fourth quarter, he and Ryon Bingham combined to sack Brooks for five-yard loss...then two plays later, with Raiders facing third-and-15 at San Diego's 25-yard line, tipped pass at line of scrimmage that was intercepted by Quentin Jammer and returned 35 yards to Raiders' 48...eight plays later, LT threw 19-yard TD pass to Antonio Gates and Bolts tied game at 14-14...tallied sack and tackle for loss among six-stop effort at Buffalo Dec. 3...combined with Jamal Williams to stop Willis McGahee for two-yard loss on second play of game and collected two-yard sack midway through second quarter...collected six-yard sack and pair of passes defensed in Dec. 17 win over K.C....sacked Trent Green for six-yard loss on first-down play in second quarter and then broke up pass on second down to help force punt...Chargers Alumni Player of Week after Dec. 31 regular-season finale vs. Arizona...sacked Tom Brady for seven-yard loss and forced fumble on third-and-13 play in third quarter of divisional playoff game against New England, however Patriots recovered ball to retain possession.

    Those are the five linebackers who will not see the dreaded Turk this season. They have experience in the system and have shown their abilities. So who is left?

    <strong>ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN</strong>

    <strong>#47 Jyles Tucker, LB, UFDA out of Wake Forest:</strong>
    <strong>COLLEGE:</strong> Honorable mention All-ACC as senior-named ACC Rookie of Week after first career start vs. Clemson during which he stripped QB Charlie Whitehurst of ball and returned it 12 yards for touchdown-finished career with 85 tackles, nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss-played at Wake Forest from 2003-07-majored in religion.

    <strong>#48 Nick Roachh, LB, UFDA out of Northwestern:</strong>
    <strong>COLLEGE:</strong> Academic All-Big Ten choice and team co-MVP as senior-starting outside linebacker had senior season cut short by broken right leg in game vs. Michigan State-as junior, returned first-career interception 35 yards for touchdown against UCLA in 2005 Sun Bowl-earned NGN Defensive Newcomer of Year Award in 2004-finished career with 241 tackles, nine sacks, 16 tackles for loss and two interceptions-played at Northwestern from 2003-06-earned degree in art.

    <strong>#49 Antwan Applewhite, LB, UFDA out of SDSU:</strong>
    <strong>COLLEGE:</strong> First-team All-Mountain West Conference as junior after leading league with seven sacks-honorable mention all-conference as sophomore-had biggest game of career as redshirt freshman in 2004 against 17th-ranked Michigan, intercepting first-career pass and returning it 75 yards to set up touchdown, while also adding sack-finished career with 126 tackles, 17 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss-left school following junior season to enter NFL Draft-redshirted in 2003 and named scout team defensive player of year-played at San Diego State from 2003-2006-criminal justice major.

    <strong>#52 Carlos Polk, LB, 6 year veteran:</strong>
    After missing the entire 2005 season and all but one game of the 2004 season due to Achilles and shoulder injuries, Polk returned with a vengeance in 2006. He appeared in all 16 games and saw the most significant action of his career on both defense and special teams.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Recipient of Ed Block Courage Award for displaying commitment to principles of courage and sportsmanship while serving as inspiration inside locker room...came back after missing most of last two seasons with injury and played Weeks 1-16 and in AFC playoffs, primarily on special teams...racked up career-high four special teams stops to lead team in Sept. 11 season opener at Oakland...racked up then-career-high five tackles as reserve linebacker against Tennessee Week 2...spelled injured Shaun Phillips Week 6 at Kansas City, collecting three tackles...started first career game in place of Phillips Oct. 29 vs. St. Louis...tied for team high with two special teams tackles against Cleveland Nov. 5...started Nov. 12 at Cincinnati, collecting sack and tackle for loss among five stops...also tied team-high with two stops on special teams...dropped Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer for four-yard loss in second quarter...started Week 10 on Sunday Night Football at Denver and led linebacking corps with two QB pressures...also started Week 11 vs. Oakland and racked up season-high six tackles...collected one-yard sack against Trent Green late in second quarter and paced squad with two stops on special teams Dec. 17 vs. Kansas City...also made very good special teams play against Chiefs, downing Mike Scifres punt at four-yard line in first quarter...led team with three special teams stops at Seattle Dec. 24 and with two against Arizona Dec. 31.

    <strong>#53 Anthony Waters, LB, 3rd round choice out of Clemson:</strong>
    Anthony Waters has been overcoming long odds his entire life. To get to San Diego he had to overcome a potentially career-ending knee injury in the first game of his senior season at Clemson. He also had to overcome a tough upbringing, one in which he was raised in a house with eight brothers and sisters by a single-parent, his mother Lynette, and one that also saw two of his older brothers spend time in jail. His oldest brother is still incarcerated and facing a potential life sentence. Lynette works at Anthony's alma mater, Lake View High School, and even with nine children, still finds time to volunteer at a local nursing home.

    <strong>COLLEGE:</strong> Sat out almost entire senior season after injuring knee in third quarter of season opener against Florida Atlantic...honorable mention All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection as junior after leading team with 109 tackles and leading ACC with 74 solo stops...recipient of team's Solid Rock Award in 2005, given by coaches to squad's outstanding linebacker...during junior season, named team's player of game following outings vs. Maryland, N.C. State and Duke...redshirted in 2002...played at Clemson from 2002-06...graduated in December 2006 with degree in sports management.

    <strong>#58 Zach Latimer, LB, UDFA out of Oklahoma:</strong>
    <strong>College:</strong>: All-Big 12 honorable mention (AP) ... Ranked second on the team for tackles ... made a season-high 15 tackles in his first start against TCU ... came back with 12 stops and a fumble recovery against Texas ... seven tackles against Oregon in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl ... credited with two sacks for 19 yards in losses and a fumble forced against Oklahoma State ... also forced a fumble in the Tulsa game.

    <strong>#59 Brandon Siler, LB, 7th round choice out of Florida:</strong>
    A three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection, the Chargers may have made the steal of the 2007 NFL Draft with their selection of University of Florida linebacker Brandon Siler in the seventh round. A member of the Gators' 2007 BCS national championship team, Siler elected to leave school early and make himself available for the NFL Draft following his junior season. An academic honoree as well for his work in the classroom, Siler studied criminology in Gainesville.

    <strong>COLLEGE:</strong> Second-team All-SEC by league's coaches and Associated Press as junior...earned third-team honors from coaches as sophomore...Academic All-District III choice in 2005...named SEC Freshman of Year by coaches in 2004 after leading Gators with 77 tackles...was only second true freshman to lead squad in tackles...also named to Scripps/Football Writers of America and Sporting News' Freshman All-America first team...also named to SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll...only second true...played at Florida from 2004-06...criminology major.

    <strong>#92 Marques Harris, LB, 2 year veteran:</strong>
    Marques Harris has been a solid contributor for the Chargers. A former undrafted free agent, Marques became a regular in the Bolts' defensive rotation in 2006 after spending most of his rookie season as a contributor on special teams. Last season, Harris had a hand in several big defensive plays, and following each he celebrated with a back-handspring that gained national notoriety on sports shows across the country, including ESPN's SportsCenter.

    <strong>2006:</strong> Marques Harris saw action Weeks 1-13 &amp; 15-16...recorded fourth-quarter fumble recovery in season opener at Oakland's nine-yard line after quarterback Andrew Walter put ball on ground...three plays after recovering fumble, Michael Turner scored one-yard touchdown run for final points in 27-0 win...logged extensive time for injured Shaun Phillips Week 6 at Kansas City...helped force three-and-out on Chiefs' first drive of third quarter when he pressured quarterback Damon Huard and broke up pass on Chiefs' third-down play...Eric Parker returned resulting punt career-long 50 yards to set up touchdown that allowed Bolts to get back within seven points at 20-13...then, midway through fourth quarter, Harris sacked Huard for nine-yard loss on third-and-five play and also forced fumble by Chiefs' quarterback...Luis Castillo recovered ball at Chiefs' 23-yard line and five plays later Chargers scored touchdown to tie game at 27-27...started Week 8 for injured Phillips...scored first career touchdown Nov. 5 against Cleveland when he recovered football in end zone after Randall Godfrey sacked Charlie Frye and forced fumble...score gave Chargers 10-6 lead in game...later collected sack for no yards in fourth quarter against Frye...in middle of fourth quarter of Nov. 12 game at Cincinnati, teamed with Shaun Phillips to stop Chris Perry for three-yard loss on shovel pass on third-and-six play...it ended Cincinnati drive and forced field goal that prevented Bengals from re-taking lead late in game, holding score at 42-41...Bolts then drove and scored on their next possession to help seal victory...made one of biggest defensive plays of night in Chargers 35-27 Sunday Night Football win at Denver Nov. 19...made great read and tackled running back Damien Nash for six-yard loss late in fourth quarter with Chargers leading 28-27...it forced Broncos to go for it three plays later on fourth-and-four from their own 38-yard line...Jake Plummer's fourth down pass was in turn intercepted by Drayton Florence and returned to 23-yard line...it led to one-yard touchdown run by Tomlinson on following drive that gave Bolts 35-27 lead and essentially put game away...Nov. 26 against Oakland with game tied 14-14 late in fourth quarter, closed out three-and-out by Raiders with three-yard sack against Aaron Brooks on third-and-20 play...after punt, San Diego drove 67 yards in six plays to claim 21-14 lead and defense made final stand to seal victory...inactive for Week 14 Kansas City game while recovering from hamstring injury...returned to action Weeks 15-16...inactive for divisional playoff game vs. New England.

    I know some of you are probably asking why Harris is not on the shoe is's list. It was a dificult choice, but the numbers game edged him out.

    The remaining four or fewer spots will be a true camp struggle. Players will compete for their professional lives here. Some will be looking to live the life long dream, if only for one season. Others will look to continue with a San Diego team that has a true chance at having a truly special year. They will have various reasons to want to be here, but the bottom line is they will have to fight to be here. That is good for us, the fans. That is good for our team, the Chargers.

    That is my opinion, what is yours?

    <em>Note: Player information source: <a href="http://chargers.com" target="_blank">Chargers.com</a></em>

    <em><strong><a href="http://bolttalk.com/wp-admin/Note:%20Player%20information%20source:%20Chargers.com" target="_blank">Discuss the article.</a></strong></em>

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