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Remarkable Resilience Displayed by O-line

Posted Oct 20, 2013

A reshuffled offensive line came up clutch for the San Diego Chargers.

Disaster struck the Chargers during their second drive of the game in one of the worst possible ways.

Photo Gallery: Chargers vs. Jaguars | More Photos

In a matter of a handful of plays, starting left tackle King Dunlap was knocked out of the game with a concussion, and just moments later, his backup Mike Remmers was forced out due to an ankle injury.

The Chargers only had seven linemen dressed entering the game and the five remaining healthy members were forced into new positions.

Right tackle D.J. Fluker moved over to left tackle for the first time since high school and right guard Jeromey Clary kicked out to right tackle as reserve guard Rich Ohrnberger took his place.  The trio joined Nick Hardwick at center and Johnnie Troutman at left guard to constitute an offensive line combination no one could have foreseen when the game began.

“You’d be a rich man if you could have told me two guys were going to go down the way they did,” Head Coach Mike McCoy said after the game.

It would be understandable if the Jaguars defense were licking their chops, but as they have done all season, the offensive line showed incredible heart and resilience in leading the way to victory. Philip Rivers had all day to throw for the most part, and wasn’t sacked a single time after all the changes were made up front.  Meanwhile, on the ground the team had a second straight standout performance and the end result was a 24-6 victory.

“Once again we had to shuffle the deck up front,” said McCoy.  “I think (Offensive Line Coach) Joe (D’Alessandris) and the staff did a great job of moving guys around.  Unfortunately the week we go down to seven linemen we lose two of them in a hurry, (but) that’s all a part of it.  We’ve just got to keep shuffling the deck, and that’s a great job by the coaches and the players of stepping up.  That goes back to the days of training camp.  The dog days of just grinding it out with five guys and moving guys around so they deserve a lot of credit.”

While each and every guy on that line deserves a ton of praise, the job Fluker did in moving to the left side was particularly noteworthy.

“We’ll watch the film tomorrow morning, but I think he did fine for the most part,” McCoy said.  “I didn’t see Philip get hit too much back there.  And Ryan (Mathews) ran for 110.  So I thought he did well.”

Always honest, Fluker said he didn’t know what to expect when he was told he was being switched to the left side.  But it didn’t take long for him to gain confidence over there.

“It was a challenge,” he admitted.   “I wasn’t really used to it.  As the game went on I got more comfortable with it.  It’s something you’ve got to adapt to.  When we started running the ball a little bit, I said it’s not so bad.  The more comfortable I got the better I got at it.”

Hardwick has been a rock in the middle of that line all season long, and he was especially proud of the job his teammates up front did after being put in a trying situation.

“The guys have the flexibility that when things happen, which they always seem to do, to come out and execute their assignments,” he said.  “It’s a testament to everyone’s work ethic.  It’s a testament to Coach D'Alessandris and Coach (Andrew) Dees and the vigor in which they work and coach.  The amount and attention of detail that is paid to every guy and every position is incredible.  They’re a major reason behind our success.”

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