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Evaluating the Outside Linebackers with LB Coach Bob Babich

Babich:He's a very impressive player.  He is an instinctive pass rusher, he's explosive and he's strong.  He has a lot of qualities that can lead to a player being an elite player.  We've asked him to do a couple things that are a little bit different for him this spring, and (Assistant Linebackers Coach) Bobby King has done a great job with Melvin.  I've really been impressed with Melvin's energy, effort and attitude. He's been fantastic; a leader and a team player.  He's bought in, and has been really fun to be around.

Chargers.com:How has Jerry Attaochu looked to you as he gets ready for his third season?

Babich:Jerry is another guy we've seen some great improvements from in everything he did in the spring.  He got better every day.  He really did.  Jerry had six sacks last year, but he needs more consistency all year.  He really wants to be the best he can be, and he works hard.  So we were very pleased by his spring.

Chargers.com:I'm sure Kyle Emanuel is close to your heart since you both have strong ties to North Dakota State.  Now that you get to work with him closely every day, what are your initial impressions of the second-year OLB?

Babich:Obviously I do have a special place in my heart for North Dakota State players having coached there for six years! But Kyle has the typical North Dakota State attitude.  He is a very good athlete and a very good football player.  His motor runs all the time and he's physical.  You need players like him.

Chargers.com:Tourek Williams put so much work in to transform himself last season, but then was lost for the year after breaking his foot in the first preseason game.  How did Tourek look in the offseason program, and what does he need to do to prove himself after not playing in two years?

Babich:As the OTAs went on, Tourek increased his reps each period.  He also got better as it went along.  After OTA number nine, he told me that was the best that he's felt, so he is coming along and I look forward to seeing him out there when training camp rolls around.

Chargers.com:Ben Gardner is making the adjustment to 3-4 outside linebacker from 4-3 defensive end in Dallas and at Stanford.  How has that gone?

Babich:It's gone great!  Ben is a guy who had never dropped in his whole career, and watching him practice, you'd have never said that.  He transitioned into it extremely well, and he's doing a really good job.  We have a lot of good competition going on in our linebackers group.

Chargers.com:Finally, with the undrafted guys, what do they need to do to earn a spot?

Babich:Special teams is huge.  Special teams is something that will give them an opportunity to play.  But they also are all doing some good things on defense.  We are pleased with their progress, and they will do nothing but get better.  There is a lot of growth to be had for guys like Chris Landrum, Shaq Petteway and James Ross.

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