One of the thinnest positions on the LA Chargers roster heading into training camp this season was the linebacker position. After a breakout season for the Bolts in 2021, Kyzir White signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on a small one-year, $3 million contract.
The best linebacker from last year left the team for cheap and to replace him the Chargers signed depth linebacker Troy Reeder from the LA Rams. Not exactly a direct swap of talent there for the Chargers.
Linebacker became one of the thinnest positions on the roster after White left in large part due to Kenneth Murray's struggles. Murray was projected to be much better and much more impactful to the team by this point but he has not been that. Last season he was downright bad.
Murray had offseason ankle surgery and has not yet suited up for the Bolts. A thin position got even thinner, and on Monday, that thinner position got perhaps the thinnest it could be. Drue Tranquill did not put pads on as according to Brandon Staley, he is dealing with a groin injury.
The timeline for Tranquill is promising but it is not concrete and it could create more problems. Tranquill has been rather injury-prone in his career and Staley also said earlier this year that Murray would be ready for training camp and that was not the case.
The Chargers need someone to step up at linebacker with these extra opportunities.
This truly is the time for someone to stand out and leave their mark on the coaching staff. The Bolts desperately need one of the depth linebackers to step up as this is just a reminder that the team cannot rely on Murray and Tranquill to completely hold down the fort. The Bolts need more options.
Amen Ogbongbemiga is a freak athlete who had a positive impact on special teams but he showed that he was raw in the limited snaps he got on defense last season. Nick Niemann is a bit more technically sound than Ogbongbemiga but does not have the same explosiveness.
The Bolts only signed one undrafted free agent that is a linebacker as well. Tyreek Maddox-Williams signed with the team from Rutgers. Maddox-Williams does not have the most impressive resume or athleticism, so while he is a bright guy, he is limited as a player.
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Perhaps Maddox-Williams could prove us wrong or perhaps it will be one of the existing linebackers that steps up. Either way, the Bolts need help at the position and it has to come in house.