Chargers rookie, Phil Bogle, anchors line

Phil Bogle entered the season as an undrafted free agent out of New Haven, a program that has since been disbanded, gone, extinguished. Luckily for the Chargers it didn't happen before this season. Bogle simply came in and started 13 games for the San Diego Chargers in 2003, four at right tackle, and nine at right guard. Week to week, Bogle did not know who he would line up next to with all the injuries and almost missed time to an undisclosed injury himself.

The rigors of the season touched nearly every offensive lineman on the Chargers squad. It seemed every other week another player was headed to injured reserve. Others still missed significant time with various ailments. Phil Bogle was among the few to not be affected by the rash of injuries. The rigors of the season that produce bumps and bruises seemed to pass over the rookie, or did they?

"I broke my hand in Pittsburgh," Bogle said. "It was the first time I ever broke anything."

When the injury report came out the following Wednesday, Bogle was listed as probable with a hand injury, but no mention was made of it being broken.

"It's healing fine now," said Bogle. "I played with it in Oakland. That was unexpected but I did well."

The whole line played well in Oakland. Bogle, with a broken hand, and his line mates paved the way for a 243 yard rushing performance by LaDainian Tomlinson, closing out the season with a win.

It was the product of extended work and much needed experience that seemed to come together in that Raider game. Bogle, in particular, got the most playing time of any rookie lineman and started over third round pick Courtney VanBuren.

Van Buren would eventually see a starting role on the line, but when he too went down, Bogle moved out to right tackle for the last two contests.

Despite some solid play from lesser known players, the play of the line was a serious source of angst amongst fans. They are already clamoring for Robert Gallery come draft time.

"We struggled this season just because of injuries and stuff, but I think we fought hard through the adversity that we had," said Bogle. "I think we played hard and finished off pretty well. We had a good game against the Raiders."

The line that ended the season consisted of Bogle at right tackle, Michael Keathley at right guard, Cory Raymer at center, Kelvin Garmon at left guard and Ed Ellis at left tackle. Garmon was the only lineman who entered the season as the starter.

The Chargers made increasing their depth on the line a priority heading into the season, but the plan backfired when all the injuries came down. Now they head into another offseason of uncertainty. Several members of the line will be unrestricted free agents and don't figure into the equation for next season.

Bogle says he can't worry about the team making personnel moves that could take playing time away from him. He remains dedicated to himself and what he can do to make himself better.

"You can't really worry about that kind of stuff. That is part of the business and is going to happen regardless. I am just worried about myself right now."

The work he put in with Hudson Houck paid big dividends in 2003 for Bogle. He is hoping for the same results next season.

Bogle played two positions, tackle and guard, in 2003 and never truly got a chance to settle in at either position. The versatility is a definite plus, but he still needs a position he can call his own.

"I like tackle, but I am a guard," Bogle says with a chuckle. "I didn't want to believe it at first…"

Bogle struggled some at right tackle on inside moves, which may have prompted him to lean towards the guard position as his favorite. He also weighs what Coach Houck says and Houck told him his best position is guard.

As a rookie, he wasn't about to complain to a man he respects, a man who was instrumental in bringing the undrafted free agent to San Diego. Bogle simply wants the success he has had thus far to continue. Resting in Spring Valley, New York, he is set to his begin preparations for 2004 after some R&R.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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