Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chargers Defensive Line Starting 2009: B

In any discussion of the d-line, we must begin with the great Jamal Williams. He is one of my favorite Chargers, bringing a swagger and confidence to the whole team. His powerful presence allows the linebackers to run around and make plays. Watch how he consistently pushes double-teams into the back-field. His age and his knees are the only thing to worry about as the season goes on. Reports from camp say he is doing better this summer than last and should be set to have a good, and full, season.

At left end is the hard to figure out Luis Castillo. He had a promising rookie season a few years ago, but was slowed by recurring ankle injuries for two years after that. Last year he was healthy, but didn't seem to have that same spark and play making ability he once did. The 3-4 defense is hard on ends, as they absorb a lot of double-teams. Is he better suited to play outside in the 4-3 defense? The Chargers like his team spirit and work ethic, but this is a pivotal year for Castillo. He needs to show a bit more or the team may be looking in another direction. A great year from him could be a pivotal factor in San Diego reaching the Super Bowl.

The right end position seems to be a bit of mystery going into the season. Jaques Cesaire was slotted to start early on, but he has been injured for most of camp and didn't play in any preseason games. He did start last year as Ron Rivera favored him over the disappearing Igor Olshansky (now with Dallas). Cesaire has been announced as the official starter next week against the Raiders, but can he really be ready to go?
Ryon Bingham was supposed to be the experienced back-up, but he was recently put on injured reserve with a torn triceps. The Chargers also drafted rookie Vaughn Martin out of Canada. He's an amazing athlete with great potential, but needs more experience before he's ready.

Recently, San Diego gave up a sixth round pick to the Houston Texans to pick up DE Travis Johnson. The Texans were going to cut him, frustrated because he seemed to always be injured. He currently has a sports hernia and there's some question as to whether he will be ready to go Sunday. If he can heal and regain the form that made him a high draft pick years ago, he could be a surprising steal for the Chargers and end up starting.

So overall, this is a group with a ton of potential but some significant question marks. We'll have to watch closely the first few games to see how it all pans out.

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