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Wanted: Someone To Block For Bolts

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Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Chargers used to be one of the best offensive teams in the NFL.

The Chargers also used to have an offensive line.

Sure, the team had playmakers like LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles, and Vincent Jackson at the skill positions, but it also had an outstanding group of men in the trenches.  

The latter of which is the more important area of the two.

Quarterback Philip Rivers connected with 17 different receivers for a league-leading 4,710 yards in 2010. The left side of the offensive line: Pro-Bowlers’ Kris Dielman (LG) and Marcus McNeill (LT) who started a combined 26 of 32 games that year. Last season, the left side of the offensive line was anchored by LG Tyronne Green and LT Jared Gaither who started a combined 17 of 32 games – and both have never been to a Pro Bowl.

Continuity. It should never be undervalued.

Knowing a teammate’s instincts, tendencies, and feel for the game is crucial in a sport where timing is everything. And it’s fairly evident that the ongoing rotation of players tasked with protecting Philip Rivers the past two seasons has run its course, especially on the left side of the offensive line.

“It is important to come together with new guys and to learn as much as you can about them,” center Nick Hardwick said Monday after the team’s first official voluntary workout of the offseason.

“Not just football wise, about what skills they’ve got on the football field, and what liabilities they’ve got on the football field, and where we can help each other out, all that’s important. But also, to know him as a man, and what makes him tick, and what makes him go, and what gets him up in the morning, what makes him compete. That’s why this is important ... OTA’s are important, mini-camps are all important, training camp is the most important and then as we go through the games, learning week-to-week what gets a guy going, and learning from each other and feeding off that.”

Hardwick, like a many of the team’s returning starters, will have a lot of new faces to get familiar with.

With the release of left tackle Jared Gaither (at a cost of $6 million against the cap), the Chargers main focus this offseason is finding a suitable replacement. But it shouldn’t be a veteran fill-in. They must find a player ready to step in for the long term, not a guy nicknamed “Big Lazy.”

The Chargers need a player ready to become a star.