Bogle builds on rookie season

Last year the San Diego Chargers found a diamond in the rough in Phil Bogle. What was asked of him would have seemed excessive for a top pick, let alone an undrafted free agent. To no one's surprise he struggled at times, but what folks were not expecting was for Bogle to become one of the Chargers' more consistent lineman of 2003.

Coming into the season, most fans have penciled in Phil Bogle behind either Courtney Van Buren at right tackle or Toniu Fonoti at right guard. Despite the absence of Fonoti at camp, many Charger fans have not yet given up on the 21 year old super talent. Bogle, though, does not view himself as a back up. After all, once he stepped on the field as a starter last year he never stepped off.

"That's my ultimate goal (starting)," Bogle explains. "And coming off the year I had last year I do not see why I shouldn't be a starter again."

The key difference between Bogle this year and last is that he is no longer a rookie hoping to make the practice squad. Now, he is a player with experience living on more than just talent. Granted, Bogle has not seen everything yet, but he has witnessed enough to know what it takes to become a successful lineman in this league.

Instead of concentrating on the basics, the coaches now have an opportunity to fine tune his skills, giving him the needed edge he has to have to compete with some of the better defensive lineman throughout the NFL.

"Because you got a year in, and you know what to expect now, Coach (Hudson Houck) does not have to tell you exactly, you just go out there and do it," Bogle says with confidence. "There are little corrections here and there, but everything comes a lot easier now."

There is, though, some worry that Bogle has not stuck with one position long enough to reach a needed level of comfort. This was evident in the off-season moves by the administration. San Diego traded recently for left tackle Roman Oben and signed Ray Goff in free agency. The solidification of the left side of the line was meant to further create stability on the right. But good ole Murphy had to have his say so before the day was over. Just when things were set, two key lineman were no shows at camp.

So now the potential of Bogle shuffling positions returns.

"Honestly, it does not matter, especially after playing guard and tackle last year. It really does not matter," Bogle says. "It's tough, there are different match ups, and there are pros and cons with both of them."

Bogle is not the flashiest player, nor the most publicized. But he does his job without question and is the epitome of the term "team concept".

With the criticisms of the offensive line in the off-season and the recent dramas at camp, it is hard for Charger fans not to think "the more things change, the more they stay the same." But there is a new wave in San Diego, and there is a distinct difference between the underachieving team last year and this year's squad. While some fans still need convincing, players like Phil Bogle are determined not to let things go astray on their watch.

"I think we'll be just fine, and we'll have nothing to worry about," Bogle concludes.

Byran Martin can be reached at

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