Dobbins prepared to play

Make no mistake, Chargers linebacker Tim Dobbins wants to start. After delving into the playbook, he is salivating at the opportunities the defense presents for him and his linebacker cohorts. For now, however, he waits, ready to spring when called upon.

The Chargers selected Tim Dobbins in the fifth round of the draft with an eye towards the future. They already have five über-capable veterans at the position, but each of them is in the last year of his contract. Although Dobbins' contributions will come mostly on special teams during his first pro season, he feels he has landed in a stellar situation.

"It's nice to be the only player with a deal beyond this year," he said. "It shows that the team thinks highly of me in that sense, if they think I'm the future at the position."

Dobbins earned All-Conference honors for each of his two seasons at Iowa State. While there he recorded 164 tackles, 11 for a loss, and 3 interceptions. His greatest asset is his ability to stop the run, which makes him a perfect fit for the Chargers' 3-4 defense.

"I've never played in a 3-4 before, so it's kind of different," Dobbins said. "I feel like I'm making progress every day. Even when I'm not out on the field I'm taking my mental reps and learning the system. It's still football. I just need to learn the scheme and the terminology."

The terminology on defense may be complex, but there is nothing complicated about his role on special teams. Given the team's ample short-term depth at inside linebacker, that is likely where Dobbins will have to make his mark during his rookie campaign.

"It seems pretty easy to me," said Dobbins of his role on the kick-coverage units. "I just run downfield and try to make plays. They're telling me I'm going to be really tired during the preseason between special teams and defense, so we'll see."

Despite the apparent ease with which Dobbins has adapted to his special teams assignments, he knows he must continue to improve his game before he is ready to push for time on defense.

"The main thing I'm working on is my pass drops," he said. "Also, I'm working on getting my hands on the fullback during running plays."

Even though Dobbins is preparing like he is going to start the first game of the season, he is ready to assume whatever role is given him this year.

"I want to eventually be starting -- if not this year then somewhere down the line -- and I need to prepare myself like I'm going to play. But for right now, I know I need to concentrate on producing on special teams," he said.

When the Chargers drafted Dobbins, he was all but dubbed their inside linebacker of the future. If he can continue to display his immense talents and relentless work ethic, the future may come sooner than anyone could have anticipated.

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