Chargers needed an Igor

Igor Olshansky, the San Diego Chargers second round pick will likely move outside in the Bolts 3-4 defense. He has played both inside and outside in college, where he started for 2-1/2 years. The "Pain from Ukraine" has been playing organized ball since he was a junior in high school. Raw, but talented, Olshansky is looking to make a difference this year.

"I am excited," Olshansky said. "Hopefully I can contribute to win some more games. I am going to do what it takes. Defense wins championships."

And the Chargers defense needed help. They added two linebackers and now have Olshansky who is expected to start at one of the defensive end positions on the line.

"This young man we felt could come in and help us as a run defender and give us some power and push," Marty Schottenheimer said.

Schottenheimer was not ready to hand over starting duties, but believed he would compete from the get-go.

"We were able to address the defensive line which, notwithstanding the fact that we're going to the 3-4, we thought was important that we get a guy that has some versatility, and that was an important part of it. The thing that I like about him is that he has size. He's 6-5, 312 pounds…a very tough, physical, hard-nosed player…great effort all the time. We think he has an opportunity to come in and compete. Whether he'll start remains to be seen. The opportunity will be made available to him."

Olshansky finished his career with 146 tackles (89 solos), 11½ sacks for minus-78 yards, 27 stops for losses of 113 yards, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, a 37-yard interception return and three blocked kicks while appearing in 38 games, as well as countless impressive displays of strength in the Oregon weight room.

Olshansky was just seven when his parents left the Ukraine and is set to become the first player with Soviet roots to make the NFL. The former basketball player never thought about playing in the NFL until the football coach approached him.

As a junior last year, he had 6 1/2 sacks, playing mostly as a defensive end. He did start four games at defensive tackle, his natural position. Olshansky also blocked an extra-point attempt in the Ducks' 31-27 upset of Michigan.

"I am pretty diverse in my game," said Olshansky. "I can play anywhere on the line. I consider myself a good run stuffer and I am still trying to develop my pass rush. I played both (defensive end and tackle) equally. I felt I could pass rush better anywhere inside."

Back problems that hampered him all last season are behind him. Olshansky reports healthy after a successful offseason training in Orange County.

While he does believe he will need some help with his pass rush, he has no reservations about his ability to stop the run, an Achilles heel for the Bolts last year.

"I can stop the run anywhere on the line of scrimmage," Olshansky said with conviction. "I am more determined than confident. I am determined to win."

"He is a true football player," Schottenheimer added. "Maybe not a lot a flash but the production and the performance is there and he brings an attitude which we have to have up front on our defensive line."

A new attitude indeed for the San Diego Chargers. A winning attitude.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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