Igor eyeing bigger productivity

Igor Olshansky may be the first Russian born player to reach the NFL but this year he has come to camp with a renewed focus. While his contributions were key in run defense a year ago for the Chargers, he is eyeing bigger things (if possible from the behemoth) this year.

Olshansky admits that as a rookie he wasn't as mentally prepared for the challenges as he is today. He was considered raw coming out of college and proved that to extent during his rookie campaign.

It wasn't uncommon to see Olshansky nearing the quarterback. Nor was it uncommon to see him miss the quarterback by the tiniest of margins.

"It is a comfort thing and a focus thing," Olshansky explained. "Sometimes in the heat of the moment you forget the technique a little bit. If I am a step away now, this season I will be even closer.

With the number of American football fans around the world continuing to grow, it's a phrase being uttered more and more in every corner of the globe – "I love football," or in Russian, "Ya lyublyu football."

That is the native language of one of the NFL's up-and-coming young defensive players, San Diego Chargers defensive end Igor Olshansky, the first player born in the former Soviet Union to play in the NFL.

Olshansky, entering his second season, was born in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine and came to the United States with his family at age seven.

He became one of the highest foreign-born draft choices in NFL history in 2004 when the Chargers selected him in the second round. Olshansky first played organized football in his junior year at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco, where his family arrived in 1989 with $500 in their pockets, developing into a versatile performer along the defensive line at Oregon.

"Football is the best thing that has ever happened to me," says Olshansky, who started all 16 games for the AFC West champions last year. "It's provided such a great opportunity for me and my family. I'm very grateful."

Added his sister, Marina, a San Francisco chiropractor, "This is a country of opportunity. It's all proven – we lived it."

Some common football phrases…in Russian:

Phrase: Russian Translation
First down: Pervaja popitka
Defensive end" Pozitsija zashchitu
Play them one game at a time: Delat pospeshno
Most popular sport in America: Samij popyljarinj sport v Amerike
Hard-nosed player: Ypornij igrok
Head coach: Glavnij trener
Prevent defense: Slomat zashchity
Undefeated season: Sezon bez porazhenij

SD Super Chargers Top Stories