Matt Slauson arrived in May to great fanfare after he was a surprise cut by the Chicago Bears following the NFL Draft.
The eight-year veteran spent the rest of the offseason program acclimating to his new team.
While he gradually emerged as a leader up front through OTAs, he's taken charge through the first week of training camp. Slauson is determined to get the line on the same page each and every play. After all, he believes that is the inherent job of the starting center.
"You have to take charge," he said. "As a center you have to do that. You can't have any hesitation making calls. You have to fire it out fast. I'm not focused on making my mark as an individual. With me being the new guy in the middle, we just have to get a cohesiveness going. I think that's coming fast, and that's huge."
As Slauson alluded, it all starts with communication. So many adjustments have to be made in a matter of seconds, so getting on the same page is crucial. Since the center is at the crux of it all, Slauson has emphasized building trust during presnap reads with the rest of his linemen.
"The communication has been great. There is an unwritten rule that whatever the center says goes no matter what. Now obviously Philip (Rivers) trumps all, but these guys have been great. Whatever I say; boom. They are going to do it. They trust me to put them in the right spot, and obviously we trust Phil to put all of us in the right spot. So everything has been really good."
It's easy to see Slauson taking charge of the offensive line. Fans at training camp can spot the center constantly barking out adjustments and pointing out reads before each snap. With the addition of the pads this week, they've also seen the gritty, nonsense demeanor that's been his trademark since entering the league in 2009.
"I love it," he said. "I love to work hard, I like to play smart and I like to play tough as BLEEP! And you know what I mean by BLEEP."
In his eighth training camp and with his third team, Slauson says he is accustomed to grinding it out daily against the defensive line. However, he said the competition this year is different than what he's experienced in the past.
"I really like the way we are jelling as an O-Line, and I really like the work going on between us and the D-Line. It's been really competitive. Maybe more than I've seen before. It's a good back and forth. Some days we get the best of them, and other days they get us. It's been a lot of fun, and I love that competition."