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July 26, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Jarret Johnson (96) and linebacker Takeo Spikes (middle) and linebacker Donald Butler (56) participate in a drill during training camp at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

A Look at the Linebacker Position

Last season, the defense had an under the radar gang of Linebackers, we started the season with 10 on the roster and for the most part, many of them contributed heavily whether as a starter, a rotational player or on special teams. Our team of linebackers were fierce and one of the strengths of the team.

Depth Chart 2012:

Right OLB: Shaun Phillips Antwan Barnes Larry English
Right ILB: Takeo Spikes Jonas Mouton Bront Bird (late addition)
Left ILB: Donald Butler Demorrio Williams Andrew Gachkar
Left OLB: Jarrett Johnson Melvin Ingram

A year later, Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes are signed to new teams, while Spikes and Williams are free agents. It’s a different look from the previous year, we don’t have the familiarity and reliability we had from sack-happy Shaun Phillips and the leadership of Takeo Spikes will be replaced with the youthful movement of Butler’s regime.

The 2013 depth chart at linebacker is starting to pan out like this:

Depth Chart 2013:

Right OLB: Melvin Ingram Larry English
Right ILB: Manti Te’o Bront Bird Jonas Mouton
Left ILB: Donald Butler D.J. Smith Andrew Gachkar
Left OLB: Jarrett Johnson Tourek Williams

Linebackers Jarrett Johnson, Donald Butler, Manti Te’o and Melvin Ingram looks to be set as the starters and this can potentially be an awesome group if Te’o proves he was worth trading up for and Ingram lives up to his hype. We’ll need depth at outside linebacker, someone that can rush the passer like Phillips and Barnes did.

Could rookie Tourek Williams be that guy? Has Larry English absorbed all the knowledge and technique the past four seasons to prove his 1st round worth? What happens if Donald Butler gets hurt can Smith, Bird or Mouton step up? Andrew Gachkar is a special teams player at best. Mouton is untested and that falls on the hands of Norv Turner for not seeing what this 2nd round pick was capable of.

Thus far, Bront Bird has more experience and significant playing time than Mouton. At best D.J. Smith is a back-up, but if healthy could have been a steal in free agency.

There are plenty of questions left unanswered until the first snap of the 2013 season when the Chargers take the field. The most promising part from the list above, all these guys are under the age of 25 except Johnson (31) and English (27). It’s time for the kids to prove themselves. There’s no better time than now!

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  • boltingindiego

    english has shown flashes but whats his main problem is his injuries. As long he can stay healthy i think he can be a productive 3rd down pass rusher. I would prefer on 3rds downs is to have english pass rush with ingram. dj smith is capable as a replacement was a starter in gb last year b4 his acl injury.

    • Wingnut

      Agreed. I think his foot has had enough time to heal to be 100% this season. Ingram and English Could be an O-Line Nightmare this year.

  • tubbs45

    We will definitely need one or two more OLB… Maybe I’ll be able to actually wear my English jersey this season… Easy people it was a Father’s Day gift!

    • Nick in PB

      Tubbs, we all wish you could wear that jersey with pride. I’m hoping he get’s his shot with the new staff and proves his worth.

  • Rob Base

    I bet Beltre makes the roster for depth at OLB watched some highlights and dude is all over the place making plays.

    • Moose

      Agree with you on Beltre he has a natural instinct and makes plays. His high lights were very impressive

  • Cgoodness13

    I’m not concerned about the LBs, they might be the best LB group in the afc west. It’s the DBs I’m concerned about.

    • Ambitoos

      There’s going to be some vets released from other teams. Maybe we can snag a few for a year or so.

      • Cgoodness13

        I really want to see gilchrist in action though. Looked good when he played.

    • Wingnut

      The DBs can’t be worse { well maybe } than last year stat’s wise. Should be at least 2 or 3 new starters around Weddle.

  • shane

    yeah i’m a big fan of beltre based on his highlight video. lots of unspoken pressure on ingram to step up in his sophomore season

    • Ambitoos

      Even more pressure on Larry English. As long as he’s been there, he still hasn’t shown what he can do. Also he’s injury prone. He best step up this year.

  • Miyai

    Be serious.. English when playing can’t beat his guy at all.. And forget about it if the o linemen locks up with him!!!!!! Waste of a 1st round pick!!!

  • MC Boltman

    Well, again, I´m fine with the Manti selection, but that 4th round loss was painful. It would´ve been a great opportunity to pick-up a more than decent OLB (or NT) in the fourth. But whatever…maybe Tourek Williams will surprise us all with some great offseason/pre-season performances.

  • arnie

    English was never 1st round player. aj wanted him.
    If Larry can stay healthy and make some plays then I’m happy.