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Why the O-Line Preaches Versatility

Posted Jul 31, 2014

Players have spent the past two padded practices switching sides on the line.

Change can take some getting used to, but members of the Chargers’ offensive line are getting a crash course in having to switch sides during the past couple days of training camp. Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris has shifted the right and left in drills and even in the same offensive series.

How has the transition been going?

“The first day we swapped sides was a little rough, but the second day was even better.  It goes to show you to just take coaching,”  said D.J. Fluker, who normally plays right tackle but flushed to left at various points throughout the day.

Switching sides helps linemen become more versatile players.  According to Head Coach Mike McCoy, the training they receive in camp will strengthen his offensive line, and ultimately, his team.

“When you can play all positions you understand the entire scheme…(they) are going to be a certain way (and) whether you’re playing guard or playing tackle or playing center,” he said. “We’re making all the same calls but you’re doing it from a different position.  You’ve got to understand ‘What is your role in this play?’  I think everyone understood that last year on this football team and there’s a lot of guys who hadn’t played a lot of snaps in those positions but because of the work they did get during camp, it helped them in the long run.”

Another benefit to being well versed in all sides and positions is the preparation it gives players for unexpected yet inescapable injuries.

“It’s been really good for our group to kind of switch positions and different situations,” said Chris Watt.  “It really prepares us for a game situation if someone were to go down and one of us had to move across to the other side of the ball.  It just gets us prepared for that.”

Chad Rinehart agreed with Watt.

“There’s very few offensive lines that make it through the season with all five guys staying healthy for 16 games,” he said.  “So (we know) how to play both sides, that way we can get the best combination going into games.”

Watt, Fluker and King Dunlap have all had experience switching sides, yet it’s still a transition each time they’re asked to do it.

“I’ve done it in college and it’s been a couple years since I’ve played right tackle, but the adjustment is minor,” Dunlap said.  “It was tough yesterday but I got a little better today. I had to knock some rust off it.”

Because McCoy and D'Alessandris’ preach versatility, the players are paying keen attention to it during camp.  The reps train them both physically and mentally, with the latter for quick decisions they would have to make in game mode. 

“It’s hard,” said Fluker. “But it’s about ‘How bad do you want it?  How bad do you want to be good?’  It’s a challenge.  Coach throws us into the fire to try and see how we respond.”

“(D’Alessandris) really put an emphasis on it these past two days by switching us around and getting us off our feet a little bit, making us not really know what’s going on and (having us) figure it out so I think it’s really good for the group,” said Watt.

So what’s playing on the opposite side like?  Dunlap equated it to writing with your non-dominant hand. 

“It’s like doing everything you do if you’re right handed but doing everything you do for the day left-handed.  It’s backwards,” he said. 

With two days of switching under their belts, the linemen are assimilating well.  Then again, with the first preseason game a week away, you can never practice enough.

“It’s all about technique and trying to do your best at it,” said Fluker.  “If you give good effort, everything’s going to work out.”

Don't forget, Saturday marks the team's annual FanFest at Quacomm Stadium.  It's always a highlight of the summer and is an event you won't want to miss.  Click here for more information.

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