As we near the start of training camp on July 30, we'll preview each position for the San Diego Chargers. We continue with a look at the Inside Linebackers.
Manti Te'o –Te'o is fresh off surpassing the century mark in tackles for the first time in his career last year, leading the Chargers with 107. In addition to charting his development on the field, watch for number 50 to emerge as a leader on defense as he enters his fourth season.
Denzel Perryman – Arguably the hardest hitter on the Bolts, Perryman's physical style of play will be on display more in preseason action than in training camp. The second-year linebacker came on strong at the end of his rookie year, finishing with 95 tackles on the season including 79 over the final seven games after being inserted into the starting lineup. Perryman made tremendous strides in coverage last season, so look for him to continue to develop that portion of his game as well.
Joshua Perry – The Chargers drafted the 6-4, 253-pound linebacker early in the fourth round, and have high hopes for the former Ohio State star. A first-time All-Big Ten selection as a senior and co-captain in 2015, his best season came as a junior when he had team-leading 124 tackles (2nd in the Big Ten) and helped the Buckeyes win the 2014 National Championship.
Jatavis Brown – An explosive athlete, the Bolts received universal praise for selecting the reigning Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year in the fifth round. Brown rewrote the record book at Akron, setting school records with 41.5 career tackles for loss, and single-season records in tackles for loss (20) and sacks (12). Be on the lookout for how Defensive Coordinator John Pagano deploys the speedy linebacker.
Nick Dzubnar – Dzubnar was a feel good story of 2015, when he came out of nowhere to lead the Chargers in special teams tackles. Now, his goal is to expand his role on defense as he aims to earn a spot in the rotation.
James Ross – After impressing as a non-contract participant at rookie mini camp, the Chargers brought the former Michigan star into the fold. Ross appeared in 50 games with 21 starts for the Wolverines, totaling 188 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two passes defensed.
Keep an Eye On…
Ricky Henne: While I can't wait to see how the pair of draft picks play in the middle, I won't be able to take my eyes off the Manti Te'o-Denzel Perryman pairing. The duo has a chance to anchor the Chargers defense for years to come, and played so well off each other last year. Their ability to develop alongside one another could be a key to the team's success.
Hayley Elwood: The inside linebackers group is one of the most interesting heading into training camp. The end of last season certainly cemented Denzel Perryman and Manti Te'o as a strong inside unit. However, it will be interesting to see how Joshua Perry continues his rookie development and if 2015's leading special teams tackler Nick Dzubnar can make the leap to carving out a larger defensive role.