The San Diego Chargers defensive line has the potential to be very good, unfortunately their production in actual games has been inconsistent all season long. With the exception of defensive end Corey Liuget, the other starters (nose tackle Sean Lissemore and defensive end Kendell Reyes) have taken a definite step back with their overall play.
This unit has to perform better or changes will be made to the lineup, and here are some possible candidates in this week’s edition of getting to know your roster depth: defensive line.
NT Ryan Carrethers
The Chargers shocked many by not drafting a nose tackle in the early rounds of last spring’s NFL Draft. This non-move was a clear message of how impress the front office was with the play of Ryan Carrethers from last season. If Lissemore continues to struggle, don’t be surprise if Carrethers is given an opportunity with the first unit. He’s making a strong argument for himself by taking up space in the gaps along the line of scrimmage that often stalls the opposing team’s running game.
DE Ricardo Mathews
Ricardo Mathews worked his way into the defensive line rotation by way of his excellent run defending skills, but over time, he has developed into a consistent pass-rusher. If the current predictament of the Chargers defense doesn’t improve, Mathews could see his playing time increase over the coming weeks. He uses his athleticism to gain control of the outside, which immediately closes the open lane away from the pressure and forces the quarterback to stay in the pocket. This type of attention to detail often kick-starts a struggling pass rush into shape.
DE Darius Philon
Darius Philon could see significant playing time at defensive end once he comes off the reserved/injured designated to return list. The Chargers 2015 sixth-round draft pick is currently rehabbing a hip injury and isn’t eligible to return until Week 14 of the regular season. Coming out of college, Philon was considered a “tweener” or too small (6-1) to be an effective edge pass rusher and not big enough (298 lbs.) to be a gap stuffer on running plays. He caught the coaches’ eye during training camp with his aggressiveness to gain that first step on opposing tackles and put good pressure on the quarterback through the tackle/guard gap. Philon is a name to remember once the season heads into month of December.