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Which Los Angeles Chargers Linebacker Has the Most to Prove in Training Camp?

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The second year pro has some competition vying for his role. It's time for Perry to solidify his spot in the defensive rotation.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We know who is going to bring the boom: Denzel Perryman.

We know who is going to run down that running back with his speed: Jatavis Brown.

We know who is going to set the edge and play with sound technique: Kyle Emanuel.

We know who is hungry and just talented enough to be the next man up if any of those guys need a breather or rest: Korey Toomer.

We know Nick Dzubnar will scratch and claw his way for as many reps on defense as he can. We know there are undrafted free agents like James Onwualu or Nigel Harris who are trying their best to climb the depth chart.

But there is one player that we really don’t know much about ever since he became a pro last year: Joshua Perry.

I think the former Ohio State Buckeye has the most to prove this year. The former 4th round pick from last year is either gonna push for some playing time or solidify himself as the next Darrell Stuckey (which isn’t a knock on Stuckey’s worth) as a Special Team specialist.

But I’m sure the latter is not what Perry dreamed about while he was dreaming as an adolescent.

Let’s face it; it would be quite the upset if Perry beat out Perryman for the starting Inside Linebacker spot. For that to happen, Denzel would have had to sustain a camp injury or pull a Donald Butler. Nonetheless, it would be good to hear how Perry has begun to start pushing Perryman and is not making it an easy decision for Coach Bradley or Coach Lynn.

Perry could also see some time filling in for Emmanuel on the outside as well. But he’s going to have to force his way into that spot because it’s not going to be just given to him.

For the most part, when drafting in the fourth round, you are looking for a player that can provide depth, with the possibility of becoming a starter. So far, he has seen the most of his playing time on special teams, finishing with a combined total of 22 tackles last year.

So what does Joshua Perry have to do to prove he belongs on this team?

At this point in his career, he’s not going to all of a sudden get faster or get more athletic. That was the knock against him as he entered the draft. They said he wasn’t fast enough and perhaps played a little too upright.

But Perry could improve his anticipation and play recognition skills. He could spend extra time reviewing opponent game footage to dissect tendencies and patterns that are able to consistently put him in positions to make plays. Those are skills that can be learned, and with a year under his belt, year two should be more about trying to play instinctual rather than procedural; something which many rookies deal with in that 1st year.

Perry could also do himself a huge favor by providing some splash plays, ala Denzel Perryman. Most Chargers fans might not remember the first time Perryman lowered his pads and completely stopped the running back making his way thru the hole, but we all remember anticipating a new next victim, every game and now for the foreseeable future. For Perryman, it’s all but expected that he gets 1 or 2 of those “Jacked Up” moments a game. By all accounts, Perry is supposed to bring that same kind of boom. But frankly, I can’t remember one off the top of my head from last year.

So to summarize, Perry has the most to prove because he seems to be sandwiched between the starters and a bevy of up and coming, more athletic undrafted free-agents. He has to distinguish himself this camp if he ever hopes to be the very next guy up or a career special teams guy.