Chargers line ready for the challenge

As the San Diego Chargers prepare for their stiffest test of the season, the pressure is on the offensive line to play up to the high standard it has set for itself. Through two games, the offensive line has yet to yield a sack and is allowing the team to average 5.1 yards per rush, the highest total in the AFC.

Although those numbers are impressive, the team's first two opponents have been anything but.

That will all change when the team travels to Baltimore to take on the league's top-ranked run defense. The Ravens defensive line features two ends with multiple double-digit sack seasons under their belts and two tackles with 650 lbs. of combined girth.

The San Diego offensive line, however, will not back down from the challenge. The Chargers line may not represent the league's most talented group, but it is a feisty unit that plays until the whistle. It is that kind of attitude that has allowed quarterback Philip Rivers feel comfortable in the pocket.

"We are coming along," offensive guard Kris Dielman said. "We have two great coaches helping us along with Coach Henry and Coach Hunter."

"They have done a great job," Rivers added. "The guys up front – it was never a concern for me or our team. Part of the game as a quarterback is you are going to get hit some and those guys hate to see it happen once."

Although the Chargers' opponents are getting better and better, their offensive linemen are doing the same thing. Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff and Shane Olivea are playing next to each other for the third consecutive season; Dielman is in his fourth year in this offensive system; and Marcus McNeill is an enormous rookie with equally enormous upside.

"I don't plan on just settling," McNeill said of his performance after two games. "I have big expectations in the league."

All this does not mean the Chargers line will dominate the Ravens as it did the Raiders and Titans. The Ravens defense is stout and ranked No. 2 in the league right now. What should help prepare the offensive line for the daunting task ahead is the fact that it spent all offseason working against the league's No. 1 ranked unit – that of the Chargers.

"I think we showed some signs, and also some signs that we need to work on some things, but I think the future is very bright here in San Diego," Olivea said of the improvement on the line.

The future is inarguably bright for the Chargers line. The question that will be answered in Baltimore is whether or not that future has arrived.


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