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Gilchrist Impressing Coaches, Teammates
For the second week in a row, head coach Norv Turner made sure to point out the play of second-year cornerback Marcus Gilchrist.
It’s easy to see why.
“Gilchrist had his best game as a Charger,” Turner said on Monday. “He had impact plays and was consistent with big plays.”
The second-year cornerback made his presence felt early on Sunday. In the first quarter, he made a strong play near the line of scrimmage, leaping to tip a quick pass from Peyton Manning high in the air. The ball was caught by Eric Weddle, who ran 23-yards for the touchdown. Later, Gilchrist read Manning’s eyes once again and nearly had a pick-six. Instead he settled for a big pass breakup.
“I noticed that was one of the things he liked to do when someone is coming off the slot blitzing,” he explained. “He likes to do a kind of hot read. It was something I looked at on film and I was able to capitalize on.”
For the season, the 5-foot-10, 193-yard defensive back has made 34 tackles in 10 games, the exact same number he had in 14 matches last year. On Sunday, he had a career-high six tackles. Still, Gilchrist says there is no rhyme or reason why he’s played his best games of late as he’s been preparing the same way he’s done all season.
“I’ve just been doing the same thing I’ve been doing all year,” he said. “I’ve abided by the game plan and played within the system. Things have been coming together for me lately, so it feels good.”
Gilchrist has lined up predominately as the nickel corner this season; a position he feels comfortable in and enjoys playing.
“I love playing the slot position,” he said. “It’s like a combination of being a safety and a corner. Like a safety you have to be able to tackle and play in the box, and like a corner you need to be able to cover.”
An All-Pro in the secondary, Weddle knows what it takes to be a standout defensive back. He too has been impressed by Gilchrist’s play as of late, as well as how far he’s come in just one year.
“Gilly has made the improvement you hope young guys make,” said Weddle. “From year to year you want to get better and keep improving. He’s done that and the last couple weeks, he’s played outstanding. He looks like he’s comfortable with what he’s doing and what he’s been asked to do. He’s playing at a high level, and that’s what we expect out of him.”
According to Gilchrist, his improved play is a result of getting more experience as well as having veterans he can rely upon for advice.
“My game’s improved a great bit because I understand the defense more,” he explained. “I know where the other players are and it allows me to play better. It also helps to have a guy like Quentin Jammer around. I spend a great deal of time with him. I talk to him every day. I like to come to the sideline and talk to him about what’s going on out there. And then during the week we spend a lot of time in the classroom looking at film. He has so many years of experience that it’s very helpful”
Watching the game every Sunday, it’s apparent just how much Gilchrist has grown from his rookie to his sophomore year. As he continues his growth, it looks like the Chargers have a young keeper in their secondary for years to come. Read