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Russell Okung Raising Joey Bosa's Game
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One is an established seven-year veteran, Super Bowl champion and former Pro Bowl left tackle entering his first season with the Chargers.
The other is a 21-year old who emerged as a dominating force in 2016, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after notching the second most sacks (10.5) by a first year player since 2011.
As expected, watching Russell Okung line up against Joey Bosa has been one of the highlights of the Chargers’ offseason. While contact is limited during OTAs and mini camps, the competition between the two has been fierce as they’ve raised the bar.
Bosa has noticed marked improvement up front across the Chargers’ entire offensive during practice as well. As a result, he feels his own game improving as well.
“You are not really going to face a better tackle than Russell,” he said. “Having a guy like that to go against (makes you better). The whole o-line it seems has made a jump this offseason, and having a guy like Russell, who I faced last year and was a tough opponent to face (was a big addition). The work the last few weeks has been awesome. I think I’ve improved a lot going against him. Having him here on our side is definitely an (upgrade).”
The Bolts made signing Okung a priority, agreeing to terms with the 6-5, 310-pound tackle on the first day of free agency. One of the top run blockers in the NFL, he is equally deft in the passing game as he allowed the second fewest sacks (20) during his first six years in the league among players with at least 70 starts.
Okung faced Bosa twice last year as a member of the Denver Broncos, and remembers being awfully impressed.
“There are tons of really talented players in this league, especially at the position he plays, but what he was able to do his first year (was incredible). I watched him his first year and played him twice. It was impressive.”
Getting an up-close look at number 99 on a daily basis has reinforced that notion.
“The guy works hard! It’s crazy. He is so young but his technique, and the way he works that hard, I’ve never seen it in a young guy like that. The sky’s the limit for him. His dedication is amazing. You can tell he takes the game very seriously with his technique. The little things he does; he is pretty savvy. It’s been interesting to see up close.”