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2020 Positional Overview: Defensive Line

LAC_2020_D-LINE_OVERVIEW

Chargers.com will break down each of the team's position groups leading up to 2020 training camp. This week begins with the defensive line.

DE Joey Bosa

Among the NFL's elite pass rushers, Bosa put together a 2019 season that warranted his second Pro Bowl selection in four seasons.

He made all 16 starts for Los Angeles last year, totaling 11.5 sacks (ninth in the NFL), 31 quarterback hits (fifth in the NFL) and 67 total tackles, 18 of which were for loss (third in the NFL).

Bosa's most productive stretch in 2019 came from Weeks 7 to 9: two sacks and three QB hits at Tennessee; two sacks and three QB hits at Chicago; and 1.5 sacks and four QB hits vs. Green Bay – a game that new Chargers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga remembers well.

"I played [Melvin] Ingram a few times," he said. "I only played Joey once and that was last year, and I found out first-hand he's a really good football player. So, when you get to go against guys like that all training camp and you get to refine your skills against some of the best guys in the league, it gives you confidence going into Week 1."

Bosa, who turned 25 on July 11, is eighth on the Chargers' all-time sack list with 40. With 7.5 sacks in 2020, he'll pass Shawne Merriman, Raylee Johnson and Junior Seau for fifth all-time.

DE Melvin Ingram

Ingram is currently fourth on the franchise's all-time sack list with 49. After four straight regular seasons with 16 starts, Ingram missed three games in 2019 with a hamstring injury. He finished last year with seven sacks, 12 QB hits and 48 total tackles (11 for loss).

Entering his ninth NFL season, Ingram is considered part of one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the NFL. He's played in 106 regular-season games for the Chargers, including 89 starts.

Since Bosa entered the league in 2016, the two have combined for 72.5 sacks. The only teammates who have more during that time are Minnesota's Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen (83 sacks).

DT Linval Joseph

One of the reasons Hunter and Griffen shared so much success in Minnesota was the play of new Chargers defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who signed with Los Angeles this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

Joseph, who is entering his 11th NFL season, won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2011. He spent the last six years in Minnesota, making 88 starts and earning Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017.

Earlier this offseason, Joseph shared his excitement to play with another pair of dynamic pass rushers.

"Young, explosive, hungry guys are always good guys to play with," he said. "I just can't wait to get started, to get to know these guys and just get a better understanding [of] how they rush, how they think and we'll be on the same page – and we'll all make plays."

Joseph has played in 141 career NFL games, totaling 525 tackles (50 for loss), 24 sacks and 71 QB hits.

DT Jerry Tillery

The Chargers' 2019 first-round pick from Notre Dame will start his sophomore season fully healthy. Shoulder surgery limited Tillery during his first NFL offseason and training camp.

"One thing that Jerry has is self-awareness," Irish head coach Brian Kelly told Chargers Weekly this offseason. "He's very aware of his situation -- knows that he did not perform at the level that the expectations had been set for him. … A lot of that had to do with the injury, but he's never been a guy to make excuses. He won't use [it] as an excuse, and so I think you'll see a guy that is wanting to live up to maybe some of the expectations that were set with where he was drafted."

Tillery appeared in 15 games last season, making three starts. He finished 2019 with 17 total tackles, two sacks and three QB hits.

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said the flashes from Tillery were there last year. He noted that the defensive tackle needed to get stronger this offseason, and that Tillery "didn't take much time off," in order to accomplish that.

"I'm very confident that he will deliver big in his second year with the L.A. Chargers," Kelly said.

DT Justin Jones

Jones' defensive snap count in 2019 jumped by 60 percent from his rookie season. He made 12 starts, totaling 30 tackles.

After his rookie year, Jones said he made it a point to improve physically. Entering season three, he said his goal is to maintain that physicality, while giving himself a mental edge.

"I feel like once the game slows down more, you can make a lot more plays," Jones said this offseason. "You start seeing things a lot more faster. So, just trying to get the game to slow down more than it already has and trying to lock into the mental workouts with the Zoom meetings and everything."

Jones, who played college football at NC State, was the Chargers' third-round pick in 2018.

DE Isaac Rochell

Rochell enters his fourth season with the Chargers.

A seventh-round pick from Notre Dame in 2017, Rochell has appeared in Los Angeles' last 34 regular-season games. When Bosa missed a large part of the 2018 season due to injury, Rochell filled in and played 52 percent of the defensive stats, while also starting three games.

He's made 45 total tackles (nine for loss), seven sacks and nine QB hits in his three-year NFL career.

NT Damion Square

Square re-signed with the team in June.

Since 2017, he has appeared in all 48 of Los Angeles' regular-season games. Outside of wide receiver Keenan Allen and Ingram, Sqaure has played more games as a Charger than any of his current teammates.

Last season, Square made four starts and totaled 27 tackles. Entering his eighth NFL season, he brings veteran presence and a familiar face to the defensive line room.

Rounding out the room

DT Cortez Broughton was a seventh-round pick in 2019 from the University of Cincinnati. He appeared in two games last season (Week 4 at Miami and Week 7 at Tennessee).

NT Breiden Fehoko is a 2020 undrafted free agent from LSU. Before transferring, Fehoko spent two seasons at Texas Tech. In four seasons at both schools, he made 71 total tackles (16.5 for loss) and had four sacks. Fehoko was a member of LSU's national championship team last season.

DE Joe Gaziano is a 2020 undrafted free agent from Northwestern. Gaziano is the Wildcats' all-time sack leader with 30. He finished his career in Evanston with 152 total tackles (49 for loss).

DT P.J. Johnson enters training camp with the Chargers after being signed to the team's practice squad last December. Johnson, who played his college football at the University of Arizona, was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions in 2019.

DE Jessie Lemonier is a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Liberty. In two seasons, he made 20.5 sacks and 135 total tackles (29.5 for loss).

DT TJ Smith is a 2020 undrafted free agent out of the University of Arkansas. Smith played four seasons with the Razorbacks, totaling 75 tackles (12 for loss) and five sacks.

*College stats courtesy ofSports Reference.

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