SAN DIEGO – Offensive line coach Hal Hunter can stand at the front of his position’s meeting room and point to where every player congregates.
That’s because the same offensive linemen have inhabited the Chargers’ meeting room for years.
“Kris (Dielman) and Marcus (McNeill) sit up there. They sit next to each other. This is going on their sixth year sitting next to each other,” Hunter said. “Nick (Hardwick) sits back here with
Sure, sixth-round draft pick
Offensive linemen have perhaps the highest potential for development at the NFL level because of the importance of technique, and the Chargers have a collection of young linemen they’ll try to bring along.
But last year’s starting five and several key backups have stayed together since 2009, a significant factor within a positional group defined by collective play.
“We’re to the point now where we’re coaching things that we wouldn’t normally coach in a first- or second-year player. It’s like the advanced course,” Hunter said. “The least-experienced guys,
“It’s a real thing of continuity. They know what I’m going to say before I say it. We couldn’t physically (play a game), but mentally we could go play a game Sunday if we had to because that’s the level they’re used to operating together. With free agency, to keep the nuts and bolts of the offense together like we’ve been able to do is really, really hard.”
“We need continuity because those five guys work as one,” offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon said. “Dombrowski, Green and Mruczkowski (have) played a considerable amount of time when injuries rear their head.
“The continuity helps us not only in the run game but in the passing game because that unit requires a ton of communication. The more the guys play together the better they get.”
Unlike the group of young linemen on the roster, the developmental curve for San Diego’s starters isn’t likely to skyrocket suddenly. Basics are as natural for them as brushing their teeth. But Hunter still finds things for them to fine-tune.“The developmental curve starts to level out a bit. You’ve got to continue to try to improve players, continue to take it to another level mentally and physically, but the increments are smaller and it takes a lot more work to get more production out of them,” Hunter said. “These guys that have been starters for a long time, it’s the advanced, advanced course on all the little things.”