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Left side of O-line lauded
SAN DIEGO – There’s only one offensive lineman in the AFC West better than the entire left side of the Chargers’ group, according to an ESPN blog item.
Ranking the top O-linemen in the division, ESPN’s AFC West blogger ranked Denver’s Ryan Clady No. 1, followed by Nick Hardwick, Kris Dielman and Marcus McNeill.
Louis Vasquez (9th) and Jeromey Clary (11th) also made the list. Kansas City, the only other team with five linemen in the rankings, claimed three of the top seven.
“Cagey, tough veteran is the anchor of a strong line,” Bill Williamson wrote of Hardwick.
Said Williamson of Dielman: “Big, tough Pro Bowler who is a lot to handle for defensive tackles.”
McNeill got this description: “There’s a reason why the Chargers gave him a long-term deal. He solidifies this line.”
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Asked by The Sporting News to name a player that could have a breakout season in 2011, Head Coach Norv Turner mentioned Larry English and Vaughn Martin.
English, a third-year outside linebacker out of Northern Illinois, managed three sacks last season but missed eight games due to injury.
“Larry English has been a very productive player when healthy,” Turner said. “We feel that the procedure that was done on him in the offseason will help him stay healthy and be at full speed throughout the year. We feel that if he can stay healthy he can be a big factor in our defensive front.”
Martin, a fourth-round choice in ’09, played in the final 10 games last season off the bench. Martin made one sack and 12 tackles.
“He’s made great strides since being drafted out of Canada two years ago,” Turner said.
UNDERRATED: Esteemed NFL writer John Clayton included two Bolts in his 22-player All-Underrated Team.
“This isn’t the next group of breakout players – these are good players performing under the radar who deserve recognition,” Clayton wrote.
Defensive tackle Antonio Garay and outside linebacker Shaun Phillips represented San Diego on the list.
“(Garay) came out of nowhere to become a force at nose tackle for the San Diego Chargers,” Clayton wrote.
Phillips appeared on the list despite appearing in the 2011 Pro Bowl following his second career season with double-digit sacks (11.0 in ’10).
LIKEABLE STAR: Dirk Nowitski celebrated his first NBA Championship as a member of the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
An NFL.com reporter parlayed the event into a story about the six NFL players he’d most like to see get their first Lombardi Trophy.
No. 1 on the list? San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers.
“The reason for this one is simple,” NFL.com’s Adam Rank wrote. “Rivers gets his ring and those people who make the cockamamie argument that Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are better quarterbacks have nothing to talk about. Rivers will get his chances, but that first ring can’t come soon enough.”