Chargers Rookie Impact Report

Marty Schottenheimer openly praised a few members of the San Diego Chargers team and all save one were first year players. With a veteran now leading the offense, it seemed fitting to give the young guys their due for sticking through the bad times. Their development will be the difference between winning and losing.

Two critical members of the future of this team are Phil Bogle and Courtney VanBuren. They have been playing relatively well on the right side of the line. They have yet to spring LaDainian Tomlinson on any big runs, but it will happen. Van Buren is a mauler in the running game, while Bogle is better in pass protection. The biggest key is the return of Jason Ball who is the key to this franchise and the line.

"The two young guys on the right had their moments. Courtney hung in there and battled his way through it. Phil did the same and there are times when you go downfield and get pass interference calls," Schottenheimer said referring to the rare penalty on Courtney Van Buren. "They hung in there and they battled it."

As mentioned previously, all the big runs have come to the left with Kelvin Garmon pulling. He hasn't been alone and the help he had this week was kind of surprising.

"On the two big runs, we had great blocks by David (Boston) over there and created room for us," said Schottenheimer.

David Boston has had some rough outings on the field in terms of blocking, but when the team is firing on all cylinders you find everyone doing the little things. Energy is infectious and breeds good habits.

The tight ends have been solid all year in their blocking and now a threat has emerged.

"Right now the tight end play has been excellent," Schottenheimer concurred. "Peelle has been quite good throughout this entire season and of course Gates has come along and he has done a nice job. We are fortunate we will not have to press (Alexander) back into this. We probably need to find a way to play all three of them at the same time."

Schottenheimer could not contain his enthusiasm when talking about Antonio Gates. This marks the third time this season Schottenheimer has gone out of his way to commend Gates for a job well done.

"He is a very talented guy. It is amazing when you watch him on tape how a guy his size can move like he does. He is very fluid athletically. He has started each of the last three games for us and he continues to do that."

On the defensive side of the ball Schottenheimer has been impressed with the progress of Terrence Kiel. It is getting tougher to keep Kiel off the field as he play progresses and his reads improve.

Kiel is still struggling with his weight and overall strength. The season is proving to be a difficult time for him to gain weight as his plateau has been around the 200 pound mark (he played at 210 at A&M).

"I think Terrence is going to be an outstanding player," Schottenheimer said. "I don't mean a good player, I mean an outstanding player. He has a natural instinct about himself, he is athletic and he is a very physical player. Had he not had the injury, he might well have been our starter."

Lastly, there is the matter of a second year player. Not nearly as aged as fine wine, but showing maturity beyond his years. In limited playing time, he has taken opposing quarterbacks to the ground with more regularity than any other player.

"I don't get to vote for the game ball, but if I did, I would vote for DeQuincy Scott," Schottenheimer said referring to Sunday's Viking game. "He was outstanding, absolutely outstanding. He will continue to get more opportunities and now with the current status of Ray Lee (Johnson) uncertain; (Otis) Leverette will get his opportunities. DQ did a really, really good job. He was very, very effective. We have a number of rushes that let him go in or out based on the way the guy sets on him and we cover behind him."

Scott may also get some looks at end as his playing time increases day by day. Any time you get praise from the coach, you know you are on the right track.

"He is very, very bright," added Schottenheimer. "I kid around with him; I think he would make a terrific middle linebacker."

What is interesting about all the choices is they all have had to overcome obstacles. Van Buren faced the inactive stigma early on and many wondered if the third round draft choice was a waste. Bogle went from undrafted to starter – getting snaps before Van Buren and playing both guard and tackle. Gates had not played football in five years and is now starting in the NFL as an undrafted free agent. Kiel was shot three times outside a Houston area mall in an attempted carjacking. And Scott had to make the team after many had tabbed Doug Sims for a "big" year, then he had to fight for playing time and shine when he did.

Each has made their mark and they are here to stay. The future of the Chargers is on the roster right now.

Note:

An exclusive interview with DQ will air this week on SD Bolt Report.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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