Chargers' Olshansky crafting his trade

Bulging muscles imprinted with tattoos litter the workout warrior. It was his impression that bigger was better. He would hit the weights with gusto, believing that raw strength was the key to success in the NFL. After a successful rookie campaign, Igor Olshansky is ready to take his game to the next level by adding a touch of finesse.

Many considered his selection in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft as a project, but Igor Olshansky solidified the Chargers run defense, helping the Chargers claim the rights to the third best run defense in the league.

The hulking end began training camp at left end but found his home on the right side of Jamal Williams. As a rookie, he found himself on the starting line, despite leaving school after his junior year, a decision he stands by.

"I knew I was ready for the NFL physically," Olshansky said. "I knew it was just a matter of mastering my job, my skills."

Olshansky has always been the strongest player on his team. His strength was an asset as a rookie, overcoming certain deficiencies with technique and turning into a force that allowed his linebackers to make plays.

He wasn't absent from contributing in the stats, making 39 tackles, including three stuffs.

Entering his second year of play, Olshansky has a deeper understanding of the game and knows he has to take his game to the next level.

That includes refining the way he plays. Strength, he found out could only get him so far. Balancing that with a touch of finesses is what will bring his game from role player to star player.

Olshansky wants to become a complete player and that includes upping his sack totals. While he recognizes his primary responsibility, he knows that sacking the quarterback is when the adrenaline really starts to pump.

"To truly consider yourself a great football player, you have to do both," Olshansky said of pass rushing and run stuffing. "I am very confident that I will be able to do both.

"I consider stopping the run the best thing I do as of right now. I think I have that part of the game down. Now it is finesse, not so much finesse but technique and timing and setting guys up. Just trying new moves and going out there and having fun."

Given his successful rookie year, where his contributions weren't tallied on the stat sheet, Olshansky earned praise from the coaching staff.

After the season, head coach Marty Schottenheimer sits down with each player to give and get feedback.

"He is happy with the way I performed," Olshansky said of the meeting. "He said as long as I keep my work ethic up and keep doing what I have been doing than I shouldn't have a problem."

This offseason, Olshansky has amped up his training. He wants to get off the line better and is working on his hand technique, slapping away hands and positioning.

Given his work ethic, Olshansky seems poised to take his game up a notch.


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