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Diggs, others add experience at LB

Posted Sep 5, 2011

The Chargers hope the combination of young talent and experienced veterans at linebacker will translate to production on the field.

SAN DIEGO – Na’il Diggs hasn’t been in Southern California for long.

Monday marked his second practice in a Chargers uniform less than a week before the start of the regular season. Diggs, a 12th-year veteran with 139 career starts at linebacker, is confident he can  assimilate defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s scheme quickly.

Diggs started Week 1 of his rookie season for Green Bay as a fourth-round pick in ’00.

“I’m not a doctor or a Ph.D,” Diggs said. “But football-wise, maybe that’s my talent, picking things up real fast and being able to carry it over to the field on game day and execute it well.”

San Diego has done its best to counteract inexperience at linebacker by adding Diggs and Takeo Spikes as well as retaining Stephen Cooper.

“The biggest concern we have at the linebacker position is our youth,” Turner said. “We like our guys but we’ve had a couple guys nicked already.”

Diggs feels comfortable in the NFL and can focus on learning the terminology without having to deal with the adjustment from college.

“I feel like I can play in any situation. Rain, sleet, hail or snow, any defense, any team,” Diggs said. “(Young players) are trying to pick up the speed of the game. They’re learning basics from a college to a pro level. It’s a big difference on the field. I know the speed. I’ve seen a lot of snaps. It’s more or less an Xs and Os thing coming here.”

St. Louis signed Diggs last season. The Rams, one season removed from 1-15, showed development, but the veteran gets a different vibe from the Chargers.

“Coming into an environment like this makes you more cognizant, more aware of your play in practice and on Sundays. Nobody wants to be the weak link,” Diggs said. “It makes you up your game and keep your expectations high.”

OK WITH SIX: Head Coach Norv Turner reiterated his respect for Ogemdi Nwagbuo on a personal level Monday but said he’s comfortable with the Chargers entering Sunday with six defensive linemen.

“We have made sure with the linebackers and defensive backs that we’re going to be good in the kicking game,” Turner said. “If at some point we need to add a defensive lineman as we move through the season we’re capable of doing that, but right now all six guys are healthy and we can go with that number.”

Turner also called the position group a strength of the team and said the defensive linemen are as close to each other as any group of players he’s been around during his 27-year NFL career.

SWITCHING COLORS: Charlie Bryant, signed to the practice squad Sunday, found a different color jersey hanging in his locker Monday, which was in a different corner of the locker room.

Bryant, a defensive tackle from Memphis, exchanged his blue practice jersey for the white of the offense, practicing with the players he competed against all camp.

“He doesn’t have a lot of background on offense so we’re just going to do some stuff to get him up to speed (for practice squad purposes),” Turner said. “If he’s good it could end up being a permanent deal.”

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