Shuffle Along the Line

The San Diego Chargers have spent most of the preseason with a starting defensive line of Marcellus Wiley, Jason Fisk, Jamal Williams and Ray Lee Johnson. Much like the changes in the secondary, changes will happen on the line.

Adrian Dingle practiced with the first team defense today and will supplant Ray Lee Johnson as the starter at defensive end.

Dingle signed a three year deal this offseason in the hopes that he would start this year, or at worst, a year from now. The deal is for three years and the contract is worth $4.5 million with a $1 million signing bonus. Another $1 million are tied to incentives. The Chargers acted quick when they found out Dingle was scheduled to visit division rival Kansas City.

"I just like the organization," Dingle said of the Chargers shortly after signing. "I felt there was a better chance for me being here, with (defensive line) coach (Wayne) Nunnely. I felt I had a better opportunity to grow, so I wanted to stay."

Originally a fifth round pick out of Clemson, Dingle has shown his hard work this offseason paid off. During training camp, Dingle was making Courtney VanBuren look bad. He has added a variety of moves to his arsenal and displayed them on Van Buren to make him better. His play was so solid it has now led to Dingle assuming the starters' role.

At 6-3, 272 pounds he was the top sub for the Chargers in 2002. Dingle started just three games for the Bolts in 2002 but was used extensively during the season. He had 1.5 sacks in the games he started and 4 sacks overall, a career high. Dingle also contributed 25 tackles. Johnson, meanwhile, ranks seventh on the Chargers' all-time list with 42 sacks. He led the Bolts with 6.5 sacks last year.

Chalk up yet another youngster on the defense. Dingle has been solid against the run this season and his dual threat, as a run stopper and an edge rusher, is something the Chargers felt they needed with the youngsters in the secondary. Johnson will still be a big part of the defense as the Bolts rotate, and he may actually stay fresher used in pass rushing situations.

The only surprise of this move is its timing. The Chargers are preparing for the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, in what will be opening day for the Bolts, and while he is not behind in his learning, the rest of the team may be behind in learning to play with him. The linebackers rely heavily upon being able to shoot gaps created by the D-line and knowing your own men and how they react will help them make plays.

-SD Bolt Report

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