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Hard Wonks: The Trenches

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Last time we looked at the offensive backfield for the Chargers. Philip Rivers and Billy Volek count the days until the season starts and get back to business. Ryan Mathews practices holding on to the football and trains to avoid injury. Tolbert keeps working hard to please his ever increasing fanbase. While Scott Tolzien and Jordan Todman prepare to take on big roles at Cowboy Stadium in the upcoming preseason game. Those guys jobs are important, but nothing gets done of a football field without men in the trenches.

The Chargers offensive line is led by 3 guys with Pro Bowls under their belts. Here there can be some shots dug up of Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman and Nick Hardwick playing in Hawaii in their AFC gear. The talk shifts to how last year McNeill held out to get the big contract that Dielman and Hardwick already had. In the end he got his money and the core of the Philips Rivers protector was solidified for 2011.

However, the latest man on the line to get a multiyear deal is not Marcus McNeill, but instead Jeromey Clary. Clary didn't do much testing of the market in offseason, but instead signed quickly with the Chargers. He's not paid as much as the others, but it's a nice chunk of change considering he's never made a Pro Bowl like the other 3. The narrator reminds us that this new contract is no reason for Jeromey to get complacent. Some weight room and film room shots can help emphasize he's one of the hardest workers on the team. Interviews with his Chargers teammates will tell you the same. He knows he's not just getting paid for what he has done, but what he can do down the line.

The fifth spot on the line was one in flux last year. Louis Vasquez locked down that starting RG spot in 2009 (this a good time for some video of the big man mauling multiple NFL big men), but an injury in 2010 let Tyronne Green get plenty of playing time last season. This year the spot could be up for grabs as both men have the goal of being the starter. Some battles can be unfair and perhaps the Chargers won't let Vazquez lose his job to injury, but Green can't think that way and his objective is to fight tooth and nail to prove he should be the guy between Hardwick and Clary.

On the defensive side we'll see plenty of highlights of Antonio Garay and Luis Castillo to introduce their segment. The two of them are locks for starting spots on the line with Castillo having been holding down his position for years and Antonio Garay (show his hairstyles) proving last year that he's a playmaker at the nose tackler spot. Chargers fans should feel comfortable with those spots.

Meanwhile the rest of the trench warriors consist of a high profile rookie, a longtime Charger veteran, two promising young players and a San Diegan working hard to keep playing for his local team. The high profile rookie is of course Corey Liuget. Time to play "2 Legit 2 Quit" while showing highlights of his days at the University of Illinois. Those highlights can transition into some good game footage from the preseason opener against the Seahawks. The narrator then wraps up his story by reminding us that the lockout shortened offseason will be hard on rookies, but expectations are high for Liuget and he still could be a starter come September.

Longtime veteran Jacques Cesaire can relate to some of the criticism thrown Corey Liuget's way. Some say Liuget is too small to play 3-4 DE, but Cesaire has been too small for that position for years. However, Jacques didn't come into the league the way Corey did. He was an undrafted free agent from back in 2003. No one on the Chargers, besides long snapper David Binn and CB Quentin Jammer has been wearing Blue and Gold longer than he has. He was a free agent this offseason, but saw an opportunity to mentor the young first rounder and still play in heavy rotation for at least one more year.

Vaughn Martin's path to the NFL is unlike many others. He was born in Jamaica (find some reggae music to overlay) and played collegiately in Canada. He was mostly off the radar come draft day, but the Chargers took him in the 4th round anyway. Now he faces a more common path. His path is that of a player with promise that has yet to get significant playing time. With veterans at every defensive line position and a highly drafted rookie now in the fold it won't be an easy task. He'll need to push that 6'4, 300+ lb frame as far as it can go and see where it takes him.

Another promising young player is second year player Cam Thomas. Thomas looks to be the back up to Antonio Garay. With Garay entering free agency next year, Baby Godzilla's job this preseason is to prove that he'll be ready then to become a starter. The interview process definitely starts this year because the Chargers won't risk uncertainty at that position going into 2012 training camp.

We can finish the trenches show with Ogemdi Nwagbuo. OG certainly has same places in San Diego to take the camera that only a local would know about. Perhaps he can take Cam Thomas with him and they can show the viewers the fine art of planking in some of San Diego's hot spots. And, of course, the Chargers defensive line wouldn't be complete without showing a few tweets. Antonio Garay is the line's king of twitter and I'm sure the others have some good teasing ready for him about that.