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The Forgotten Charger with the Chance to Make a Major Impact

It was all there for the taking a year ago for Chris Landrum.

Fresh off an impressive 2016 rookie campaign, the speedy edge rusher had such an impressive offseason that he appeared the front runner to be the Bolts' third pass-rusher behind Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

Then disaster struck.

On the second day of training camp, Landrum slipped coming around the edge, landing hard on his shoulder.

Just like that, he landed on the reserve/injured list, ending his season before it even began.

With the departure of Chris McCain, Landrum once again has a chance to emerge as a key part of the team's pass rush.  As last year showed, there are opportunities aplenty for that third pass-rusher as opposing offensive linemen must account for a pair of Pro Bowlers in Bosa and Ingram.

On the first day of OTAs, it was crystal clear that the Bolts are giving Landrum every opportunity to win that role.

"The guys that are here, we want to take advantage of getting the chance to see them," said Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley. "He's a guy that we've really got to be able to evaluate, all the way through OTAs and minicamp and training camp, and see just where he falls in. We've seen flashes of him. We like some of the skillset that he has. Now, consistently, can he do it? That's not something we'll know tomorrow. We'll probably take a little bit of time for it."

Count Bosa as one of those in Landrum's corner, knowing the impact he can have if he can stay healthy.

"I've always loved Chris," Bosa said. "Me and him have been buddies.  I told him out there today that he has to stay healthy this year because he had a great OTAs last year.  Unfortunately, he was out all year with injuries.  I think he can kind of have (how) Chris McCain came in, and had that shot, had five sacks and made all those plays. I think Chris can do the same, if not better, if he gets the chance this year.  Obviously he won't be the starter out there with me and Mel, but with our defense, you know how much we rotate and use those second guys. So I think a guy like Isaac (Rochell) and a guy like Chris being out there will both be big parts of our defensive line if we can keep them healthy."

So who exactly is Chris Landrum?

In case you forgot, he's a 6-2, 245-pound defensive end who signed with the Bolts as an undrafted free agent out of Jacksonville State.  He began the year on the practice squad before being added to the active roster in October.  He appeared in 10 games as a rookie, logging seven tackles and one sack in limited duty.

"It feels great to be back out there," he said after the first day of OTAs in which he saw significant time with the first team. "It's a great opportunity to be out there with the ones, and just listening to them.  Going against Russell (Okung) and Joe (Barksdale) every day, it's really going to make me better.  I'm just taking it day-by-day, trying to get better every day. "It was hard last year.  I was really looking forward to playing last year.  But it was great to come in everyday and be around the guys. It honestly just made me so hungry."

After bouncing Landrum between LEO and OTTO last offseason, Bradley made it clear the Bolts will use him solely at LEO in 2018.

That's music to the 25-year old's ears.

"LEO fits me well because it's a position that you can really just go," he said.  "I like to be in coverage, and it puts you in coverage sometimes, too.  It's the best of both worlds, but it lets you really rush the passer. I love to run with my speed.  I know that's one of my strong suits, so any time I get the chance, I'll run to the ball.  That will create a lot of opportunities, and a lot of hustle plays."

"I think we have him at the right spot, the LEO spot, when you look at it, there is the get-off, the ability to rush, the speed, the speed to power, the ability to accelerate," added Bradley. "But also, there's run (responsibilities). We've got some run concerns that we've got to take care of. So for him to be able to set the edge and do some of the other things we ask a LEO to do, that's what we need to answer."

To that point, Landrum made it clear he's dead set on not solely being a pass rush specialist. He knows he needs to make his mark against the run as well.

"Some of it is learning what to expect from the offense," he said.  "Right now, I'm just learning a lot from Brandon Mebane and Damion Square.  Knowing the run-pass keys.  Knowing down and distance.  You need to know all of that before the play.  Before, I didn't take all of that into my mindset.  But now, I'm out there looking around and using that.  I've just got to get better every day."

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