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Meet the Defensive Line's Secret Weapon

Melvin Ingram ranks second in the league with 5.5 sacks, more than halfway to his career-high of 10.5 just three weeks into the season.

Joey Bosa is fresh off being named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, and has picked up right where he left off as a disruptive force.

Brandon Mebane is in his 11th season, yet the 32-year old believes he's never played with better technique.

Darius Philon has been the Bolts' most disruptive interior lineman, seeing the most snaps in Week 3 in the middle after struggling with consistency his first two seasons.

Chris McCain has recorded a sack in three straight games after failing to find his place on an active NFL roster over his first three seasons in the league.

What do all of these players have in common?

They each credit the tutelage of Defensive Line Coach Giff Smith for playing a big role in their success.

"You can't really ask for a better coach than Giff," Bosa said prior to the season. "Schematically, he really knows defense.  We work hand-in-hand and together well.  (He helps take) everybody to the next level when it comes to hand usage and pass rush moves.  It's cool being at a high level like this to work alongside Giff.  He gives me ideas, but he is open to ideas I give him."

"Giff has helped me a lot, and I appreciate the things he is teaching us as a unit," added Philon.  "He has a lot of trust and belief in what I can do.  He focuses a lot on handwork.  As a defensive lineman, you always want to have great hands.  One thing he helped me clean up that I always had a problem with in college and high school was I would open up my chest too much.  He's helped me change the way I have my off hand.  Now my strike is more efficient, and I'm more on target.  I would never have focused on it if he didn't drive me each and every day."

Head Coach Anthony Lynn acknowledged the difference Smith has made up front.

"Giff is an outstanding coach," Lynn said.  "He has two of the better pass rushers in the game, and he's helped develop those guys.  He continues to work with the interior guys to get more pressure up the middle.  But (his success) doesn't surprise me."

Smith first got into coaching in 1991, spending 19 years in the college ranks before making the jump to the NFL.  He spent 2010-12 in Buffalo, in which the Bills boasted a dominant front.  Defensive tackle Kyle Williams was selected to his first two Pro Bowls while defensive end Mario Williams posted a 10.5-sack season.  Smith then joined the Tennessee Titans from 2013-14, coinciding with defensive tackle Jurrell Casey making his first Pro Bowl as he emerged as one of the top interior linemen in the game. 

Still, his best work has come the past two years with the Bolts.

Mebane is no stranger to life in the NFL, and he counts his blessings as he gets to work with Smith toward the end of his playing career.

"Giff is one of the best defensive line coaches there is," he said.  "He's one of those coaches who is detail oriented.  No matter if you have a tackle for loss, there is always something he is looking at to make you better at.  How you could get back there faster or a change in technique; there's always something.  And that's a good thing if you want to actually get better.  He's helped me a lot at this stage of my career.  My technique sharpened up a whole lot since I got here and started working with him. It's been real major to have him here at this stage of my career.  I appreciate having a coach like him who is so detailed oriented."

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