May 10, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers tackle D.j. Fluker (76) and guard Johnnie Troutman (63) during Chargers rookie minicamp at Chargers park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Take A POLL…On The GUARDians

Alright, there has been quite a lot talk about the tackle positions in the last few months, especially about the one on the left side of the line. And we´ve got all reason to discuss this topic in depth, as these spots have been the main area of concern last year.

But now that Tom Telesco selected right tackle D.J. Fluker in the first round of the draft and picked up Max Starks days ago in free agency to compete for the left tackle spot, it seems that the above mentioned area of concern shifted from tackle to guard. I don´t want to say that the interior of the offensive line is the weakest spot on the roster, but at least we´re better set up now at tackle than at guard in my opinion.

Let´s take a quick look at the depth chart of the two tackle spots.
Left tackle: Max Starks, King Dunlap, Nick Becton
Right tackle: D.J. Fluker, Mike Harris, Brandyn Dombrowski

Could be worse, right? (re-watch some 2012 games, then you know what I´m talkin about).

Alright, now let´s get to the main part of this piece.
In order to find out if there is reason to be worry about the interior of the line, we´ve got to check out what player personnel the Chargers got on the roster to address these two spots.

Jeromey Clary
As we all know already, there had been multiple reports about Jeromey Clary doing a pretty good job at right guard in the first OTAs this year. I still don´t know what to think about all that praise. There had been a bunch of players out there on the field; but out of all these guys, he´s the one that gets the most (positive) attention. There must be a reason for that, right? Well, even if he did pretty well in those “Organized Team Activities”, we´ve got to consider he´s a $5.7 million cap hit in 2013. Don´t know if a player who did not take one single snap in a game at that position is worth that kind of money. And we all know his footwork had been below average his entire career. But maybe this wouldn’t be that much of an issue in his now role, as he wouldn´t have to move that much at the interior than on the outside of the line.
Whatever, currently it looks like he is considered to be the starter at right guard.

Chad Rinehart
Already on day two of this year´s free agency, General Manager Tom Telesco signed Chad Rinehart from the Buffalo Bills to a one-year $1.75 million deal. The 25-year old mainly was used as right guard in Buffalo but he can play on either side and he has history with the new Chargers´ offensive line coach Joe D´Alessandris; i.e. he knows his system. If healthy, Rinehart can be a reliable force on the offensive line. But exactly that makes me worried about the former Buffalo Bill – is he able to stay healthy for an entire season? He ended the last season on injured reserve and played only seven games due to an ankle injury. Hope that ankle won´t bother him in 2013.
If Clary starts at right guard, then Rinehart might be the starter on the left side.

Johnnie Troutman
In 2012, the Bolts used their fifth round draft pick on Johnnie Troutman, but he missed his entire rookie season due to injuries (pectoral muscle and knee issues). The 25-year old said his body is at “100 percent” health now and he´s ready for the season to start. Troutman primarily played on the left side at Penn State but said he’s comfortable at either spot. Couple of weeks ago Tom Telesco mentioned that he liked Troutman coming out of college. “Tom Triumphant” said he´s impressed by the power element the youngster adds to his game while being able to show great short-area athleticism in pass protection.
Many BoltHeads are on Troutman´s bandwagon already and would love to see him starting at left guard. If Chad Rinehart is the guy at right guard, then those fans may get what they are hoping for…if he´s able to stay healthy, of course.

Rich Ohrnberger
The second addition at guard this free agency had been Rich Ohrnberger. He spent his last season with the Arizona Cardinals, so this means he will reunite with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt (Cards´ head coach from 2007 to 2012) and also with Johnnie Troutman, his former teammate at Penn State. The 27-year old was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft by the New England Patriots and was only active for five games in his two years with the team. He played 13 games with Cardinals last year, but starting only four. His primary position is right guard but he also is capable of playing center. Unfortunately the 6´2″ lineman ended the 2012 season on injured reserve due to a knee injury. So it seems he´s just another injury-prone player at the interior of the O-Line.

Well, these are the names, which currently can be considered as competitors for the starting jobs at right and left guard (although I´m not too sure if Ohrnberger is any “competition” for the other guys at this point).

But there are two more names that have to be added to the depth chart at guard: Steve Schilling, former sixth round pick for the Chargers in 2011 – who was released from the roster in August but re-signed again in December 2012 – and undrafted free agent Randy Richards who played right tackle in college. Based on his size (6`3”, 305 lbs) and his skills he could be used as blocker at the interior of the line. Richards already has experience playing in a zone blocking scheme. If he is able to impress in this year´s training camp, he may has good chances to take on a bigger role in coach Joe D’Alessandris´ future plans.

But of course there some other names floating around that are capable of playing at the two spots next to Nick Hardwick. The Bolts´ seventh round pick of 2012, center David Molk – who is considered as the successor of the above mentioned long-time Charger – took about 10 snaps at guard last year. King Dunlap can also be moved inside, but I don´t know if that´s the right position for a 6´9” giant like him. The backup at right tackle, Brandyn Dombrowski, can play the position too; he already did that in a couple of games over the last years he´s been with the Chargers.

So, BoltFam, now it´s your turn. You are invited to take on the role as General Manager of the San Diego Chargers once again. Are you fine with the interior linemen that are currently on the roster, or are you worried that the only name of the considerable starters at guard, who did not end the 2012 season on injured reserve, is Jeromey Clary? Do you even like the idea of Jeromey Clary being on the roster in 2013? Or do you might prefer to cut Clary and pick up the best free agent guard at this point, the 33-year old Brandon Moore from the New York Jets? But maybe you also want to do nothing at this point and wait a few weeks until hopefully another interesting name becomes a free agent? Feel free to take part in the poll and to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thank you for checking out this piece and sharing your opinion.

What would you do to address the guard position?

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  • Gunnar Martin

    POLLS!!!! Everybody loves ‘em.
    Lookin pretty strong for Clary at the moment. 100 percent to keep him as the RG starter so far. That’s bound to change soon, though.

    • MC Boltman

      Yeah Polls! :) Still looks pretty good for Clary…not 100% anymore, but still (and suprisingly) good. We´ll see what happens after June 1.

  • Cgoodness13

    I’m pretty sure if the Moore option was “if we can sign Moore, cut clary” or something along those lines it would have more votes, but I think stability is important so I voted keep clary.

    • MC Boltman

      Well, maybe, but I think it would not make that much difference. Actually I´m a llttle bit surprised that Clary gets that much appreciation. $5.7 million is quite a lot of money for a guy who did not take one single snap in a game at that position, but he´s got a great work ethic…I´ll give him that.

  • FitzWilly

    M^2 knows what he has and what he wants
    if Clary was that bad he’d be on the next GreyHound outta town
    Lets give him a chance to prove/disprove himself
    M^2 has this folks
    Go out and enjoy your Long Weekend
    and Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do :)

    Am I right Ladies :)

    • Peter Thompson

      YES!!!! I love it when you do that! Hahahaha!

      • FitzWilly

        Enjoy the rest of your weekend PT
        Looking forward to the COW this week :)

  • Peter Thompson

    I don’t know if I could swallow that kind of money to start Clary at guard, personally. I would go with Moore. Having said that, once an o-line prospect starts in training camp, they would have to be really bad to lose that spot. The big intangible here is the money. Is Tom comfortable with keeping Clary for that kind of dough, not even having played a snap at guard? Or, will he cut him, and sign someone like Moore? Moore has far more experience, played in a zone blocking scheme in coach Joe D’s division, and doesn’t have horrible roller-skate footwork issues. Anything is possible, but none of us really have any idea what Tomtastic will do. BUT!!!! He has done everything I wanted him to do since he’s been here. If he kept Clary, it would be the first thing I have disagreed with. You can put all the lipstick you want on that pig… once a bad player.. always a bad player. I think he’s gone after June 1st, and we will be cheering yet another FA signing when Moore (or someone else) gets signed ; )

    • MC Boltman

      Yeh I agree on the money thing. Its really tough to accept that kind of money for a player that has struggled his entire career. I do think that he´s able to do a better job at right guard, as he wouldn´t have to move that much…but I don´t think he´s able to be great right from the start. But for that kind of money he´d have to be a stud right away.

      I´m worried about the injury-proneness of the guys at the interior, but Clary worth $5.7 million? I don´t think so. It would be kind of funny if they´d release Clary after they praised him like no one else…but if they get the chance on an other guy with more experience and less money…then they pretty much have to pull the trigger IMO. Whatever…in the end, the O-Line looks pretty solid right now.

    • Alter Ego

      I think TT & McCoy would have made that move already if they had any intention in doing it. The right side of the O line just became a wall of mean BigFoots.
      Pete you are on record many times over with your thoughts on Clary. I think you got a swing and miss with that one. You own it though.
      McCoy has an O line that he can win with – he has an O line that will put some pain in your body. You wont see any of our RBs until they break the line. These guys are going to punch people in the face. Clary will be a big part of that …I believe its already decided. June 1st is next week – I don’t think Clary goes anywhere…its always possible they renogotiate his salary – they are keeping him though.

      • MC Boltman

        Well, the thing is, that TT would save more money if he cuts Clary after June 1 than he´d do when he´d release him before that date. But it would be kind of strange if they´d cut him after all that praise. I think they like him, thats why he probably will wear a LIghtning Bolt uniform in 2013 again.

        • Peter Thompson

          Agreed. It would not shock me if he were on the team.

          What do you think about this, MC? The main thing McCoy said was Clary is showing Fluker the ropes, and Clary was happy to do it. Why would you cut a player you are already paying 3 weeks early, when he is happily helping train his replacement, and you will save even more money by cutting him later? They haven’t even started full contact yet, so it’s not like the position is locked down. They are going to try everyone out at the position.

          • MC Boltman

            Yeah sure, if you look it that way – interesting point of view…and yes agreed, I don´t think the position is locked down. But it surely would be kind of weird, if they cut him after all that praise. He really gained a lot of positive attention. But things can change overnight…so still anything can happen. We´ll see.

      • Peter Thompson

        I have been on record a lot, haven’t I, Paul? LMAO. OK, I will stop after this, until June 1st… promise.

        I know I pick on Clary a lot… however, I’m with Ernie on this one. The entire interior of this line concerns me a lot. We have Clary, who was demoted, and has never played a snap at guard. We have Reinhart, who was a back-up in Buffalo, and is still recovering from an ankle injury. We have Troutman, who has never played an NFL snap. We have Ohrnberger, who is not a starter either. Dunlap CAN play guard, but is probably too big.. and a bunch of no-names after that, who are also back-ups. This makes people feel confident? Tyrone Greene was big too, but he was a sack of potatoes, as Ernie put it. The line is only as strong as it’s weakest link. The tackle positions have been addressed, which is wonderful. But, even if they could be potentially good.. these are not starting guards day one. Reinhart might be, which I am fine with.
        Also, I’m not understanding the “they would have done it by
        now” point. It doesn’t make much business sense to me. Why would they cut
        him now, instead of getting paid more after June 1st? It reminds me of when people were saying they would have cut Gaither by now, or they would have signed Freeney before he left town, or the meetings with Starks didn’t go well, because he didn’t immediately sign. Nobody knows what these guys are going to do… lol.

        • Alter Ego

          That was some good stuff Pete. You and MC did a very good job on this post. It does give me pause…hmmm. Truth is we do live vicariously through the team…makes us fanatics. We don’t know what we don’t know – but I believe that the O line assembled today is far superior than last years line. I believe this years line ends up being playoff worthy. I believe McCoy and Whiz will run a stick and move – body blow – knockout offense…and Clary is going to kickass in it. Thats what I believe. A maulin – brawlin – finess sort of thing. Oh my gawd – its gonna be a beautiful thing.

        • MC Boltman

          Yeh, well I´ve been talking about my concerns about the interior already before the draft…got bashed pretty hard for that (“we´re good set up at guard…we don´t need better guards”). Thats why I began to seriously think about the “right guard Jeromey Clary”. But he gets overpaid, can´t accept that amount of money.

          And yes, (except for Clary) we only got former backups for the guard position – and most of them ended last season on IR! Look at Tennessee – they had major problems with their interior, they couldn´t open enough holes for CJ1K (although it seems this guy needs huuuge holes…otherwise he won´t even try to run through). What did they do? – They picked up the BEST FA guard available, Levitre, and drafted the top guard in this year´s draft, Warmack. If we cut Clary, we need “to replace” him with another guy IMO.

  • Rob Base

    Cut Clary we can utilize that money elsewhere. He sucked at RT and will suck R Guard.

    • MC Boltman

      Well, I´m actually surprised that Clary gets that much appreciation as RG. i think he could do better at RG than at RT but it would take a little time probably. But he gets paid like a stud guard – so he´d have to play like one from day 1. He gets overpaid, but I´m also little worried about the injury-proneness of the other guys. We´ll see maybe a solid guard becomes a FA in June

  • Sid

    $5.7 MIL for Clary? Chargers are loaded with more talented guys. Troutman and Rinehart will be starting guards in 2013. Chargers have better needs than wasting $5.7 MIL on a guy who always gets pushed back into Rivers.

    • MC Boltman

      Yes, thats what I´m saying: the money is the main concern. But I´ve to admit I´m not sold on the other guards on the roster. I do think Troutman and Rinehart can be good starters – but they are pretty injury-prone and there´s not much starting experience. So, we´ll see – but Clary is overpaid with $5.7 million, no doubt.

  • 1961 Fan

    Rivers better put on his track shoes!

  • Nick in PB

    I actually like having an experienced player next to Fluker. When you think about it, would we really want Troutman and Fluker playing on the same side? Even Rinehart isn’t what I would call a seasoned veteran. Nor is Ohrnberger. I actually like Clary on the right side, at guard. I always thought he was more suited at that position. I think the reason he’s stayed this long is because he works hard, even with limited ability and he stays on the field! He’s a little on the expensive side, I agree with that but if he excels at his new position, its a win-win for the line. If the coaching staff is OK with it, then I am too.

    • MC Boltman

      Great analysis. But Troutman wouldn´t start at right guard – he´s a left guard. Rinehart would be the man for the right side. But yes, they all are former backups. To be fair, Clary has no experience at guard, but of course he was a starter for the last years at right tackle. It would be great if he really is a stud at right guard, cause then I´d say ok give him that money (but can he really be a stud right away?..hmmm).

      • Nick in PB

        True… very true. One of the things I like about what TT has done is the versatility of the players he’s picked up. Most of the guards are interchangeable. I really can’t say if Clary will become a stud Guard at all… if he does, it will be nice story. Let’s just say that this regime has a better vision than the former regime. If he stinks it up at Guard, cutting him would be the perfect solution.

        • MC Boltman

          Yep, absolutely. Those “small” cheap steps of TT in the first period of FA, made some fans pretty upset. But after all they´ve pretty wise moves. He did not bring in those “big names” (well, except for Freeney), but he brought a lot of versatility to the team. It seems TT & McCoy really have some great vision in mind for this team. I don´t expect too much for this season, but I see a bright future for the Chargers organization with TT as their head man. *I like* :) #boltup

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