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2018 Training Camp Preview: Defensive Line

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DE Joey Bosa – There aren’t enough superlatives to describe number 99. Only 23 years old, Bosa enters his third season firmly entrenched as one of the NFL’s megastars. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 2017 as he recorded 70 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss. Bosa also forced four fumbles (fourth in the NFL), notched 21 QB hits and set a new career-high for sacks in a single season (12.5). Against the Patriots, he set an NFL record for the most sacks by a player in his first 20 games (19). It’s scary to think he figures to only get better as he enters his prime.

DE Melvin Ingram – The Chargers are the envy of 31 other teams as they boast another elite pass rusher in Ingram. “SupaMel” transitioned to defensive end from outside linebacker last year, and the result speaks for itself. Ingram posted 56 tackles and 17 tackles for loss, which ranked third in the NFL. In addition, he tied his career-high with 10.5 sacks, which were the sixth-most in the AFC.

DT Corey Liuget – The longest-tenured member of the Chargers’ defense, Liuget enters his eighth season after another standout campaign in which he was named a Pro Bowl alternate. Overall, he’s appeared in 102 career games with 100 starts, recording 198 total tackles, 22.5 sacks, 20 passes defensed and six forced fumbles.  

NT Brandon Mebane – A team captain each year he’s been with the Chargers, 2018 marks Mebane’s third season donning the lightning bolt.  The 12-year veteran appeared in all 16 games a year ago, recording 30 tackles as he reunited with Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley. The two were together for several years in Seattle prior to joining L.A.

DE Darius Philon – Philon boasts an impressive speed-strength combo that makes him a handful to guard off the snap. The former sixth-round pick played in all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017, setting career-highs across the board with 31 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

DE Isaac Rochell – Last year’s seventh-round pick earned steady praise this offseason, and enters his second-season primed to play a bigger role. The 23-year old slimmed down, and the weight loss has shown significant results as he looked quicker and faster in the spring. As a result, Head Coach Anthony Lynn made sure to give Rochell credit before the Bolts parted ways in June.

NT Damion Square – Square has been a steady contributor the past couple seasons, and he figures to play the same role in 2018. The 6-2, 293-pound six-year vet appeared in all 16 games last year, totaling a career-high 19 tackles and three passes defensed

DE Chris Landrum – Landrum was primed for a huge role last season backing up Ingram at the LEO position. Unfortunately, he slipped coming around the edge on the second day of training camp, landing hard on his shoulder, which eventually landed him on the reserve/injured role. The good news is that Landrum is fully healthy, and if OTAs are any indication, he’ll be given every opportunity to emerge as the team’s third-edge rusher behind Bosa and Ingram.

DT Justin Jones – The Bolts beefed up the interior of their defensive line in the third round of the draft, selecting the NC State star with the 84th overall selection. The 6-3, 309-pounder is fresh off a dynamic senior campaign with the Wolfpack in which he totaled 34 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 13 starts.

DE Whitney Richardson – Richardson looks to make the active roster straight out of camp after spending multiple stints on the team’s practice squad in 2017. A 6-4, 251-pound product out of Lane College (Tenn.), Richardson was with the team in training camp. He is the reigning Division II Defensive Player of the Year, logging 17.5 sacks, 75 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 10 games for the Dragons.

DE Patrick Afriyie – Afriyie was so impressive as a non-contract participant at rookie minicamp that the team signed him to the 90-man roster upon its completion. The former Colgate star was a three-time first-team All-Patriot League selection, and was named the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2016.

DE Albert Havili – A 6-2, 255-pound undrafted free agent out of Eastern Washington, Havili registered 199 total tackles, 12 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss during his productive career with the Eagles.

DT Bijhon Jackson – The former Arkansas Razorback agreed to terms with the Bolts shortly after the draft ended in April. The 6-1, 339-pound defensive tackle played over 1,000 defensive snaps over his career. He started 12 career games in his career, totaling 47 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

DT Steven Richardson – Another undrafted free agent looking to make the team, “Stove” started 12 games last year for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, tallying 23 tackles and one forced fumble. The 6-0, 292-pounder finished his impressive career with 103 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in 48 games.

We’re Keeping Our Eye On…

Ricky Henne: I’m a card-carrying member of the Isaac Rochell fan club, and I can’t wait for everyone to see him take his game to new heights in 2018. Fans will get their first glimpse of him at training camp, and I think they’re going to be pleasantly surprised. He was my star of the offseason program, and now I want to see him prove it with the pads on.

Hayley Elwood: Another big battle during camp is who will be that third pass rusher behind Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. My bet right now? Chris Landrum. His 2017 season unfortunately came to a premature end when he suffered an injury in training camp. Although Landrum hasn’t played since 2016, he showed promise his rookie season and now fully healthy, I’m interested to see if he can capitalize on the progress he was making a year ago.

Chris Hayre: I’m interested to see how Justin Jones progresses during camp, especially with Cory Liuget out for the first four games of the season. Veteran defensive tackle Brandon Mebane spoke highly of the NC State standout during minicamp, complimenting his hands and power. He was a third-round pick for a reason, but rookies quickly realize that the NFL is a different game than college ball. It’ll be important for him to get meaningful snaps in the preseason.

Chargers Training Camp is kicking off soon! Click here for information on attending one of the 14 open practices between July 28 and August 23. Want to attend camp in style? Enter here for your chance to win a VIP camp experience for you and 10 friends, which includes a meet and greet with a player!

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