The Battle Lines Are Drawn

Now that the NFL draft is over, the competition can officially begin. Mini-camps and offseason training activities will now be held at regular intervals, with bubble players fighting for their rights to roster spots all the while. Seeing as the team is now basically set, here is a preview of three key battles for the few roster spots actually up for grabs.

Marques Harris versus Akbar Gbaja-Biamila

With Shawne Merriman, Steve Foley and Shaun Phillips all certain to make the roster, Harris and Gbaja-Biamila will be fighting for the final spot in the rotation. Both players have a lot going for them, as they are both dynamic pass rushers who have yet to be arrested this offseason. Harris was with the team last season and was very effective in spot duty, including a big sack on Eli Manning in week three which helped him win over some fans.

Gbaja-Biamila has an ideal combination of size and speed, and has shown the ability to get after the quarterback. If he can rush the passer even half as well as his brother, Kabeer, then he is a must-keep player.

Wes Sims versus Jimmy Martin

The Chargers are lacking depth on their interior offensive line, with second-year player Scott Mruczkowski the only reserve with a spot earmarked for him. Sims, drafted one round ahead of Mruczkowski in 2005, is a classic overachiever with great technique and a stellar work ethic.

Martin was selected in the seventh round of this year's draft to create further competition on the line. He is incredibly versatile, and can play every position on the offensive line. Still, he lacks power, and was not as productive in college as Sims. Given the lack of experience they both share, that is all there is to go by.

Derreck Robinson versus Chase Page

Because their starters on the defensive line are so dependable, the Chargers will likely carry but six players there. Robinson and Page represent linemen six and seven as of now. Robinson earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent last season. He has great potential, but his character flaws are becoming a concern - last October he was arrested for allegedly driving drunk, and in college he was charged with possession of marijuana.

Page, on the other hand, is a high-character, high-motor player who goes all out an every play. He is not as athletically gifted as Robinson, but he has the size and discipline to hold up at the point of attack. He could give the Chargers some good snaps, as line coach Wayne Nunnely loves to rotate his players to keep them fresh late into games.


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