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Camp Preview: What Will the Chargers D-Line Rotation Look Like in 2024?

DL Preview

Chargers Training Camp is on the horizon.

The team will host 14 open practices as they welcome fans to The Bolt in El Segundo for the first time.

The Bolts are looking to have an instant impact in Year 1 of the Jim Harbaugh era and have a new-look coaching staff and roster that relentlessly attacked the offseason program. will take a look at each position group leading up to training camp. Next up, the defensive line.

Who's on the roster?

Morgan Fox, Poona Ford, Otito Ogbonnia, Scott Matlock, Christopher Hinton, Justin Eboigbe, Jerrod Clark, CJ Okoye, Micheal Mason

Camp outlook

Chargers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh made it clear that despite not knowing where the room stood when he arrived, he couldn't be more fired up about it now.

"Our defensive line, [I] didn't know where that was exactly when I first got here, but it's a strength," Harbaugh said during minicamp. "It's a strength for us, really excited about it."

Harbaugh later added: "I'm really excited about our interior defensive line. Poona [Ford], Scotty [Matlock], Morgan Fox, [Otito Ogbonnia]. It's coming together really nice."

DL 1

The most experienced members of the room as it stands are Morgan Fox, who returns for a third year in the powder blue, and Poona Ford, a free agent signing in March.

Fox was once again productive in different spots last season by notching 5.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

He figures to be an important figure in the room once again alongside Ford, both whom will provide a veteran presence in a group that has a lot of young talent.

"Definitely weird being the oldest guy in the room," Fox said. "I'm really lucky to have Poona in there with me, someone who's a vet and has been around good vets and played at a high level.

"But we have a lot of really good young guys who are willing to learn, willing to play," Fox added. "It's going to be cool. I think we have a room that wants to prove itself and wants to make a name for ourselves. A really unselfish room and guys that will work hard for each other."

Some of those younger players with some experience include Otito Ogbonnia and Scott Matlock, each of whom are Chargers draft picks in recent years.

Ogbonnia played in eight games in 2023 after working his way back from an injury suffered during his rookie season.

Matlock meanwhile saw some important live game reps late in the season and will look to use that as a starting off point heading into Year 2.

They are joined by another Bolts draft selection in Justin Eboigbe, who was the team's fourth-round pick in this year's draft.

The former Alabama defensive lineman is someone who has shown prowess in the run, but also hopes to continue his progression as the season inches closer.

"He's got a good blend. Right now, he's heavier on block destruction in run defense," Chargers defensive line coach Mike Elston said. "I think he can become a really good pass rusher. He's working on those tools right now. He's a work-in-progress there."

The group also includes Christopher Hinton, Jerrod Clark and CJ Okoye, each of whom spent time on the team last year on the active roster or practice squad. It's rounded out by Micheal Mason, an undrafted free agent signing this year.

DL 3

Quick quote

"I'm impressed with all of them. I just said those two because they're the older guys in the room, in terms of leadership. Scott Matlock, Chris Hinton, Jerrod Clark, all of those guys are developing and doing a great job. I'm very impressed with all of them. CJ Okoye is doing great. [Otito Ogbonnia] is phenomenal. I think we have a very strong room and the draft pick with Justin [Eboigbe] — he's a worker. Was trained very well at Alabama. Does a lot of the similar things we do here in this system. It's been an easy transition for him. It's a really good room." –Elston on the position group.

Player to watch: Scott Matlock

Harbaugh had some praise for the entirety of the interior defensive line — but he dove deeper into Matlock in particular.

"He's just all about his business, all about the work, all about the team," Harbaugh said about Matlock. "A lot of what he does, like a lot of leaders, it's not about what they say, it's about what they do. What you do speaks so loudly that you can't even hear what you're saying."

The 2023 sixth-round pick saw some action early in the season before really seeing the action tick up in the final games of the year.

And now in his second year, Matlock has been someone that has stood out not only in the defensive line room but around the entire team as well.

With snaps to go around in the defensive line room, the second year player has a chance to work his way into a solid role.

"Just everything that he does, every way that he goes from meeting to the training environment, to the practices. There every day. I mean, the power of There Every Day —TED — is so powerful," Harbaugh said. "There's no question that you get better at football by being there every day. Nobody has to wonder is Scott Matlock or somebody that's there every day, are they going to be there.

"Just look out in the seat and there they are ready to go, sitting on a spring ready to get out to practice," Harbaugh added. "Sometimes already taped, dressed and ready to roll. Not only do I see that, but everybody sees it."


Key question: How will the defensive line rotation shake out?

The defensive line is one of the many positions where the battle for playing time will play out during training camp and preseason.

With a lot of snaps yet to be figured out on around on the interior, both the veterans and younger players have a big opportunity in front of them.

"It's a great group, both from the D-tackle room where you have guys like Morgan Fox and now Poona Ford," Elston said. "They're veteran guys that have played a lot of football. There's great leadership in that room.

Elston later added: "It's a very veteran group and a very experienced group. Putting the pieces where we need to put them in different situations is going to be the fun part."

As Chargers Defensive Coordinator Jesse Minter and the staff work through figuring out who to put where, it's the perfect opportunity for competition.

The question remains on who will get the bulk of the snaps once the season rolls along, but everyone in the room will attack it the same way trying to leave their imprint on the room.

"I wouldn't even say it falls on anyone's shoulders," Fox said. "We're working as a group by committee.

"We have a standard that we're holding everybody to and that's what it's going to be," Fox added.

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