We continue the countdown with oft-injured linebacker Larry English.
What He’s Done
English was drafted in the 1st round by the Chargers in 2009. In his rookie year, English played all 16 games, accumulating 36 combined tackles, 2 sacks and forced a fumble. He was not an impact player, and he didn’t look like he was worthy of a 1st round pick, but there was enough promise to hold off on too harsh of judgements.
The following two years, saw English play a total of 13 games as he was constantly nagged by foot injuries. When he was on the field, he was completely ineffective. Last season saw English only see the field on 17% of defensive snaps, behind Jarret Johnson and Shaun Philips on the depth chart.
Why He’s Here
Dwight Freeney has spent the last couple seasons battling injuries, and Jarret Johnson has already missed some of camp with injury. Both players ahead of him on the depth chart will be 32 at the start of the season (happy birthday Jarret!). English will be seeing more time on the field this season, and the depth at OLB will force him to produce.
This is a make or break year for Larry English. This is the last year of his rookie contract, and he is expected to see an expanded role over past seasons. After this year, either the Chargers will be attempting to lock him up to an extension, or will be letting him go, possibly never to play again.
Why He's Not Higher
English has yet to produce impact numbers, and may end up gone after this season anyway even if he does well. Tom Telesco has been smart about cleaning house, only dropping small parts at convenient times. For this season he is needed, as the Chargers need the depth at nearly all defensive positions.
The importance English has on the field will be up to him. By all indications he wants to succeed and works hard, and he will be given the opportunity to make an impact on the field.