The Chargers defensive line is a position to keep an eye on during this season’s training camp. Much has been made about the camp battles that will take place at the corner and outside linebacker spots, but the competition at defensive end, should not be overlooked. There are several new faces dawning the blue and yellow that could not only make the team, but see a good number of snaps in the rotation of the defensive line.
Undrafted defensive end Tenny Palepoi, is one such prospect that could be making noise as camp approaches. Originally slated to be picked between rounds 4 and 6 of this year’s draft, Palepoi had to watch seven rounds come and go without his name being called. About an hour before the draft came to a close, the interest in the former Utah defensive lineman started to pick up.
“It just felt like the right place to go” Palepoi said, about making the choice to come to The Chargers. “Now that I’m here I know I made the right decision.”
Standing 6’1 and just under 300 pounds, Palepoi not only has the NFL pedigree to be successful, but solid production in his final two years of college. In his senior season, he became a full time starter and stepped in to fill the void left from now Panthers DT Star Lotulelei.
“I had a lot of fun playing next to Star. He is a very good friend of mine and I enjoyed our time together. I feel like our play is pretty similar. The only thing that separates us is he is more powerful and I am more technical.”
Playing in all 13 games in his final year at Utah, Palepoi was among the team leaders with 53 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks with one forced fumble. Possessing good initial quickness to shoot the gap, his athletic ability and body control enables him to create penetration and disrupt the backfield. But the former defensive captain does not limit himself on where he can be utilized. At Utah, he played on special teams as the teams personal punt protector. “I feel like I can be a versatile player.” he said, “I feel like I can contribute and help the team.”
While he knows the skills that he can bring to The Chargers, Palepoi realizes the mountain that he has to climb in training camp. Currently third on the depth chart, the young rookie will have to make himself stand out as he will be competing with several other defensive ends trying to make the final roster.
“The biggest challenge so far has been the amount of plays you have to learn daily. There is a lot of information being put out every day and I’m just trying to be like a sponge and soak as much up as I can.”