Over the coming weeks, we’ll be checking in with the Chargers’ position coaches and coordinators to get the inside scoop. We continue with OL Coach Pat Meyer.
Chargers.com: We usually start off discussing the position in general terms, but with so many offensive linemen, let’s just get right into the individual players. Arguably the biggest addition to the team this year is Mike Pouncey. How important was it to bring him in, and what has he brought to the team?
Meyer: It was very important. Anytime you can get a veteran like that who has played in a lot of ball games, and played very, very well for many years, it’s important. From a leadership standpoint and an attitude standpoint, and just the way he comes and works every day, he’s (inspiring). He’s the first one to come in here every day. When you get here in the morning, he’s already in the weight room. He’s in there at 6:00am or prior to that when he doesn’t have to be. So, just that is important. His demeanor and mentality has brought a lot to us. He’s helping a lot of the young guys seeing how he works.
Chargers.com: Russell Okung had another Pro Bowl season last year. What is it about Russell that’s made him so successful in this league?
Meyer: The way he goes about the game, in studying it, and not (relaxing) with how he’s done already in the past. He always wants to find new ways to attack a defender. Just a student of the game. He is a very cerebral guy. He studies it and breaks it down. That, to me, is his number one (quality). Obviously, he’s got good athleticism, length, strength and is powerful. But the way he goes about studying the game, dissecting it and breaking it down, makes him special.
Chargers.com: Another veteran is Joe Barksdale. How appreciative are you of the right tackle and what he brings to the team?
Meyer: We’re very appreciative. Joe comes to work every day and works hard to refine his skills, too. I still think his best days are ahead of him. He’s healthy and he’s still young. He’s long, heavy and smart. He works hard at his game, so it’s awesome having him on one side, Russell on the other and Pouncey in the middle. To have those veterans around the younger guys competing (at guard), it’s great.
Chargers.com: One younger guy a lot of fans are eager to see is Forrest Lamp. How is he feeling, and what is your plan for acclimating him as quickly as possible?
Meyer: He looks like he’s getting healthier and healthier. He’ll be one of those guys competing inside. But he’s a rookie, really. We’ll just work him in there and get him practicing. See how he handles it. Try not to get him in there too quickly because you don’t want a young guy to get in there and break his confidence, either. So as soon as he’s (healthy), we’ll start working him in individual until he gets the techniques down again. Once he gets that down, the game speed down, he’ll be out there to compete and we’ll start (working) him in. Hopefully he gets the chance to compete for a job.
Chargers.com: Looking back at Dan Feeney from last year, how different is it for him? Do you see that confidence there in him now that he has experience under his belt?
Meyer: Oh yeah! The game slows down for him now more than it did. He’s relying on basic instinct now knowing what the true game speed is like. Now he has the mindset that he knows his assignments, and the game becomes easier. But, he’s still young. He’s learning every day, going through it, getting muscle memory and dissecting (techniques) until it becomes second nature to him.
Chargers.com: Michael Schofield has been working at guard this spring. Do you still see him as a swing tackle, too?
Meyer: He can play wherever. When you can play multiple positions up front, your value becomes a lot higher, obviously. If you are a starter, you’re a starter. Then you’re fine-tuning your skills at that position. Right now, Michael has been playing guard, but if in a game we get in a pinch, he’s a guy that we can fluctuate between inside and outside. It was great to bring him back.
Chargers.com: As a rookie, Spencer Pulley worked his way into the rotation. Last year he started all 16 games, but with Pouncey coming in, he’s obviously not starting. How did he react to that and how’s he been this offseason?
Meyer: He was great with that, and he bought into what we’re trying to do there. All the guys in the room have, which makes my job easier. Obviously, he was disappointed, but he never showed it. He is proving that he can play guard and is a guy who is going to make this roster. He’s been 100-percent professional, and his work ethic’s been awesome. That’s what you want. You want the guys that are big, heavy and can move their feet. But, it’s the guys who are smart, tough and coachable you (need). And then you can work around their strengths and weaknesses.
Chargers.com: How has Scott Quessenberry come along since we drafted him in the fifth round?
Meyer: It was only OTAs and minicamp, and the live bullets haven’t happened, but he is extremely football intelligent. He’s tough. He’s learned techniques very quickly. Things that have been different for him. He obviously was well-coached in the past, but things are different now. He’s adapted to it fairly quickly. As of right now, he’s in the mix to not only earn a roster spot, but possibly compete to be in the mix inside.
Chargers.com: Sam Tevi wasn’t an offensive lineman until a few years ago. What does the future look like for him?
Meyer: Sam is powerful. He’s a real powerful kid. He has good feet and athleticism, but he’s what I consider playing heavy. When he hits somebody, they feel it. When he hits you, you can’t see it. He moves people. He has that lower body power. Again, talking about swing tackle, he’s a swing tackle too, now. He can play right and he can play left. He’s learning. His work ethic and approach to the game has changed since he got here from the beginning to now. That’s in terms of his study habits and becoming a pro. Everything from his weight room habits to his on the field habits. He’s improved immensely. If he keeps doing that, and keeps improving, then he has a chance to at some point either get in the games and play, or end up being a starter. He’s a smart kid and knows the answers. Now it’s about applying it to the game, which he’s really, really improved on a bunch.
Chargers.com: Cole Toner and Brett Boyko are two guys who spent most of last year on the practice squad. What is it they specifically need to do in order to make the 53 right out of training camp?
Meyer: Like any of them, they need to show on film that they can do this. That they deserve to be on this team. We have a great room, but they can’t all stay. So it’s competing and showing they can do it in a game situation. The preseason games, it’s showing that they can hold up and play multiple positions. If you’re not a starter, you have to be able to play multiple positions. If you are only a one-position backup, your value goes way down. So they need to be able to play multiple positions, go out and perform.
Chargers.com: Finally, there are a number of undrafted free agents. How have they been coming along?
Meyer: They’ve been good. (Zachary) Crabtree, (Zach) Golditch, Trent Scott, Chris Durant; they’re all rookies, so everything is new for them. So, it’s just learning. But from day one of OTAs to the end of minicamp, you could see major improvements in these guys. Which you should. They’re starting to get it. So, it just comes down to staying healthy and learning. When it comes to the line, you can’t get enough good ones. But when you get good ones, you can’t keep them all. So, it will come down to training camp and the preseason.
Take a look at the entire Bolts roster leading into 2018 Preseason.
The Chargers’ 2018 training camp schedule is official, so mark your calendars to watch the Bolts prepare for the upcoming season! The team will hold 14 practices open to the public between July 28 and August 23. For more information, please visit www.chargers.com/camp.