The San Diego Chargers offseason is at minimum a five month process. There are countless hours of team bonding, learning schemes and practice repetitions devoted to preparing for the season.
However, last year
General Manager Tom Telesco has repeatedly stated he’ll do whatever it takes to up the talent level on the roster. True to his word, he dealt a conditional seventh-round draft choice in the 2015 NFL Draft to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for the versatile defensive tackle only eight days before the 2013 season began.
Thrust into action immediately, Lissemore is to be commended for how rapidly he learned a whole new system. He really began to make an impact around the quarter mark of the season. The 6-3, 303-pounder notched his first sack of the season in Week 5, and then scored the first touchdown of his career a month later in Washington when he snared a batted ball out of the air in the end zone. It took some time, but by the end of the year Lissemore was a vital cog in Defensive Coordinator John Pagano’s system. In fact, the entire organization lamented how big a loss it was when a shoulder injury sidelined him for the team’s postseason run. He finished the year with 31 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and one interception in 15 games.
“I feel like I improved mentally as the season went on,” Lissemore explained. “That takes some time and is something that happens when you get more comfortable with the defense and the coaches. You learn what they want out of you as a player. Once you understand that you can cater your training and your whole thought process to that.”
Encouraged by how he developed in such a short amount of time, Lissemore is grateful to have an entire offseason to prepare for the 2014 campaign.
“This year is a whole lot different because you can take it a little bit slower,” he said. “It isn’t going to be a crash course like it was last year. Especially in 3-4 defenses like this there is a decent amount of volume to learn. So you can slow down and pick up the smaller nuances of the defense which should help me be more successful later on in the season.”
Despite being thrown into the fire, Lissemore finished third on the defensive line in tackles behind
“Those are two great guys to be next to,” he said. “I think we have a great mentality as a group on the defensive line, and we don’t want to let each other down. We hold each other and ourselves to a high standard.”
With a talented group of linebackers playing behind them, part of that responsibility is opening up lanes to make it easier for them to do their job.
“If we can help them across the board and make their lives easier, that’s a great thing,” he said. “They are great linebackers. They are fast, explosive and physical. If we can take a little bit of the blocks off them, it makes their jobs a little easier and the defense’s job easier too.”
Overall, Lissemore’s versatility is a huge boon to the Bolts defense. He explained how Pagano plans to utilize the defensive tackle in a wide variety of ways, which makes him even more thankful to have a full offseason to prepare.
“I’ve been playing pretty much everywhere,” he said. “Wherever he needs me and wherever the team needs me, that’s where I’m going to play.”