Tyreek Burwell may be as quiet as a church mouse off the field, but when the whistle blows, there may not be another player on the field with a nastier edge.
Heading into what he terms a pivotal third year in the NFL, the tackle believes his mean streak can help him earn a significant role on the team's revamped offensive line.
"That's just the way I've always played the game. Since I was seven I was taught to play with that passion. To take it to (the edge). And I have a chip on my shoulder. I've always been the guy who had to fight for everything. When you fight like that, it develops an attitude."
Burwell has made a living out of defying the odds.
Lightly recruited out of high school, he spent his first two collegiate seasons playing tight end at Division III SUNY-Cortland. Longing for a shot to play FBS ball, he reached out to a number of colleges. The University of Cincinnati was the sole team to respond, only offering him a chance to walk on. Once there, Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville encouraged Burwell to bulk up and join the offensive line. He saw action at guard his lone season at Cincinnati, flashing enough raw talent for the Chargers to sign him as an undrafted free agent in 2015.
Despite his lack of experience, Burwell defied the odds once again to make the Bolts' 53-man roster. He appeared in 11 games his rookie year and five last season. Although his game has improved over the past two seasons, he admits he remains a work in progress as he looks to cement his place as a reliable swing tackle.
"I feel like I always need to work on everything because I never see myself as the 'perfect player' in any aspect of the game. I always try to get better at whatever I can, whether it's pass blocking or run blocking. I came into the league as an athletic guy because I played tight end most of my career. I've used that to help me especially in pass protection, but there are little things I focus on to get better at every day."
Burwell had adapted to the NFL game despite having a different offensive line coach each season. While he appreciates what he learned from Joe D'Alessandris as a rookie and Jeff Davidson a year ago, he firmly believes current offensive line coach Pat Meyer is the best fit for his skillset.
"I love his technique. It's a little bit different than the last two coaches I played for. It's more aggressive, especially in pass protection. It helps a lot. I've never been that aggressive in pass pro. I've always been a guy who kicked back to get vertical. But he allows us to attack more in the pass game when we need to."
Sounds perfect for a guy who plays with a snarl to his game, eager to prove himself once again while others garner headlines.
"It's a business. I learned that very quickly, so all I can do is continue to get better and worry about myself. Focus on what it is I need to do to improve."