Bicknell on Jemelle Cage: "High motor"

The Chargers currently have many question marks at the defensive end position. Adrian Dingle and Dave Ball have health concerns; DeQuincy Scott and Jacques Cesaire are undersized; and Igor Olshansky and Luis Castillo are much more adept at stopping the run than rushing the passer.

When Jemelle Cage, a six-foot-one, 284 lb. defensive end out of Louisiana Tech signed with the Chargers, he hoped he would be the answer that soothes the team's concerns at the position. After speaking with Jack Bicknell, Cage's former head coach at Louisiana Tech, it appears he will at least work hard to ensure that is the case.

"He was always a hardworking guy," Bicknell said. "He could always run well and he has a real high motor. He has good quickness and an explosive burst. He really was a good player for us."

The numbers certainly support that claim.

During his senior campaign, Cage earned second team all-Western Athletic Conference honors, accumulating 43 tackles, including 13 for a loss, and 7.5 sacks.

Cage possesses a rare combination of size and athletic ability, something few if any of the Chargers incumbent defensive ends possess. In fact, he is so athletic that Coach Bicknell believes he could even play linebacker in certain situations.

"Possibly," said Bicknell of the chances of Cage contributing at linebacker, "if they play him over the tight end or something like that. I see him as more of a down lineman. He could probably play either one because he's a pretty good athlete."

While Cage's versatility is nice, he will have to prove to the Chargers coaching staff that he can rush the passer if he hopes to make the team. That was his forte in college, and that is what he was signed to do, as the current line has run defense pretty well wrapped up.

"His strong point is rushing the passer," admitted Bicknell.

Even Cage's former defensive coordinator, Randy Bates, seconded that notion.

Bates called Cage a "fantastic pass rusher." He also noted that Cage's production came despite the fact that Louisiana Tech played the sixth most difficult schedule in college football last season. When Cage faced off against college football powerhouses such as Tennessee and Auburn, he always rose to the occasion.

And as seems to be the case with the vast majority of the Chargers' rookie class, Cage is a stellar person as well. Character is increasingly important in today's NFL, and Cage has more than enough to get by.

"He was a great person," recalled Bicknell. "He was always willing to work hard and was never a problem. He was never late and was just a good player."

Even given all of that, Cage faces an uphill battle in his efforts to make the team. His best shot may be to get signed to the practice squad and work his way up from there. Bicknell believes, however, that if Cage continues to hone his skills and work on his run defense, he was a shot to make the team.

"He has good burst," reiterated Bicknell. "He plays with good leverage and if he continues to do that he could make the team."


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