The Chargers placed Jeromey Clary on injured reserve, meaning he has played his last game this season. The Chargers have signed Clary's ankle was injured in the second half as he had to be carted off the field. Jeromey Clary has been the target of considerable criticism since taking over the right tackle position. This season he had struggled early on, but was playing much better currently. How much his loss will affect the Chargers remains to be seen.
In his college career Clary blocked for Darren Sproles at Kansas State, helping Sproles to achieve the rushing title. Clary came in to replace Shane Olivea who had a back injury back in 2007 and was apparently struggling with off-field issues. The Chargers running game immediately picked up as the rushed for 880 yards and eight rushing touchdowns over the course of the final five games.
The 2008 season was less stellar for Clary as Ladanian Tomlinson struggled with injuries. Many felt the Chargers ought to have targeted a tackle in the draft, but General Manager AJ Smith obviously felt good enough with Clary at right tackle. He had a tendency to struggle with premier pass rushers, coupled with a deterioration in the running game the 2008 draft again came with speculation about Chargers going for a tackle in the draft. Instead Mike Goff was replaced, the Chargers drafting Gaurd Louis Vasquez to replace Goff.
This largely confirmed the analysis of Clary eight months ago here. In the 2008 campaign Clary had been tagged with seven allowed sacks, five false starts and one holding penalty. This season he had already given up 5.5 sacks, but primarily early on in the season. The last few weeks the line play had seemed greatly improved, both in the running game and in the protection for Rivers. In the first match up against the Broncos, Rivers was routinely mauled by a fierce Bronco pass rush. In the rematch in Denver last week the line held the pocket and Rivers was able to pick apart the Bronco secondary.
With Clary's ankle injury, the Chargers quickly got back to Runyan, who had refused to sign with the Chargers earlier in the season. It is unlikely he will start this Sunday against the Chiefs, but the expectation is that he will eventually take that starting role from Brandyn Dombrowski once he is familiar with the Chargers blocking scheme. Dombrowski did start two games for the injured Vasquez at gaurd earlier this season; this would be his first start at tackle. Clearly the Chargers are not willing to trust him with the position for the rest of the season and so renewed negotiations with Runyan.
Reports are that Chargers GM, AJ Smith had tried to sign Runyan in the pre-season, but perhaps he was looking for a starting position. Runyan started for the Eagles from 2000-2008 and was widely regarded as a premier offensive lineman, he was a Pro-Bowler in 2002. He rehabbed a microfracture during this off-season, but didn't find any suitable offers earlier in the year. The Chargers are very fortunate to find him available mid-season. Runyan has a style of play reputed to be like Dielman's, he is a nasty blocker and goes to the very end of the whistle. Back in 2007 Merriman was asked who the nastiest Tackle in the NFL was and he replied "John Runyan on Philly. He'll curse, spit, scratch, bite, anything. He's a nasty dude."
Runyan has political aspirations however, and has vowed that this will be his final NFL campaign. This is going to leave a question mark at right tackle for next season. The Chargers could continue on with Clary, but given his injuries and uneven play, they could also consider looking at the draft or free agency to upgrade the position. If there is no CBA free agent tackles could be thin. Tackles have been going very early in the drafts of late, and that looks to be a continuing trend. Russell Okung, Trent Williams, Charles Brown and Jason Fox could all be targets, but you have to wonder if the Chargers will use their top draft pick for the offense when the defense has been the more troubled unit.