Chargers camp battle: Defensive end

The Battle: The Chargers have their bookend defensive ends in place with Igor Olshansky starting on one side and first-round pick Luis Castillo looking ready to start on the other. That leaves last year's starter, Jacques Cesaire, moving to a reserve role; it allows the once-again healthy Dave Ball to return to his niche as a pass-rush specialist; and it means that Adrian Dingle and DeQuincy Scott, two of the team's most amiable players, will likely be fighting for one roster spot.

The Competitors:

Adrian Dingle:

At six-foot-three and 296 lbs., Dingle has the size necessary to be a force against the run, something vital in the Chargers' 3-4 scheme. He also has the power and quickness necessary to be effective as a pass rusher. After undergoing knee surgery last offseason, it appears Dingle's knees may be a chronic issue, which means his snap count must be closely monitored.

"He graded out quite well and I was very pleased with his performance," Schottenheimer said of his limited play during the 2004 season.

After missing the first year of his career due to injury, Dingle has registered 14.5 sacks over the last five seasons. His only season as a full-time starter was 2003, when he finished with 43 tackles, six sacks and a fumble recovery. He is a high-motor player who is a leader on and off of the field. He took a pay cut this offseason in order to return to the team.

DeQuincy Scott:

Scott was a terrific player in the Chargers old 4-3 defense. Comparable to the Falcons' Rod Coleman, Scott is capable of generating considerable and consistent pressure on the quarterback by collapsing the pocket. He also has the speed and agility to stunt effectively. The only problem facing Scott is that he fits poorly in the team's 3-4 defense, and may lose his job because of it.

At six-foot-one and 260 lbs, Scott is a liability against the run as an end. He also lacks the ability to drop into pass coverage, which prohibits a move to linebacker. Off of the field, he has a contagious laugh and a welcoming spirit. His best chance to stick would be if the team would be willing to use the old 4-3 defense on occasion to throw opponents off guard. Now that the team is in the second year of the new system, the players may be comfortable enough to add such a wrinkle to the defense.

"I'll do anything to help this team keep winning," said Scott.

Who Should Win:

Neither of these guys should be cut, as they are both class acts who play the game the right way. This is not just the sentiment of those who write about these two, but that of those who compete with them as well.

"Guys like Adrian Dingle and DeQuincy Scott have been great," said Chargers second-year defensive end Dave Ball. "They are nice guys and are really friendly even to new players just coming in. If you ask them anything they will always give you the right answer. They are just cool guys who are extremely friendly."

Who Will Win:

Each player brings something different to the table, so when the team selects a winner in this battle the choice may be more philosophical than practical. Dingle is the better fit in the defense, and if he can continue to progress in his rehab he could be a starting-caliber player.

Scott, on the other hand, must convince the coaching staff that it is wise to utilize him properly. If they allow him to play only as an end in a 3-4, then he is an average player with little upside. However, if the team plays even ten snaps a game from a 4-3 set, Scott could have a chance to register eight sacks or so on the season, which would be twice as many as Jamal Williams' four from a year ago, a total that led all defensive linemen.

The Bottom Line:

It appears as though each of these players is being phased out as the two-year transition to the new defense is near completion. They won't make it easy for the team to cut them though, as each has shown the ability to produce on the field and to lead off of it.

Each brings something invaluable to the team. Dingle provides great depth at the position should someone in front of him get hurt. Scott provides the coaching staff another means of attacking offenses and pressuring the quarterback.

Coach Schottenheimer wants a solid mix of experience and youth at every position, and if both of these two were cut then no defensive end on the roster would have more than two years of experience. Therefore at least one of these two should make the team. Even though there is a logjam at the position and money matters will ultimately come into play, the Chargers would be wise to consider keeping both players.

If it comes to a head during training camp and Dingle maintains a level of consistent health, Scott would be the odd man out.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at

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