Castillo still forcing the action

This week's scouting report takes a look at the play of Luis Castillo in the Chargers 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Although the Chargers were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten, the blame cannot be placed on Castillo and his fellow defensive linemen.

The Ravens were held to just 56 yards rushing and Steve McNair was under constant pressure.

Castillo finished the game with just three tackles, but his impact went beyond the box score. He lined up between guard Keydrick Vincent and tackle Tony Pashos and regularly sliced between the two on his way into the backfield. His best penetration came midway through the second quarter when he got in McNair's face and forced him to throw the ball away.

Just as important as the pressure generated on that play is that Castillo was careful not to draw a penalty for roughing the passer – something he has had a penchant for doing.

Castillo had a very active game, which made things easier for the players around him. Shaun Phillips was able to pick up a sack coming off the edge as a result of Castillo occupying blockers on the interior of the line. In fact, Phillips spent most of the game up on the line of scrimmage, allowing Castillo to play as a traditional defensive tackle.

Whether he's labeled an end or a tackle, opponents consider him a force to be reckoned with. He may not be a flashy player, but he is powerful, disciplined and willing to play the selfless variety of football expected of linemen in the 3-4 defense.

Ravens running back Jamal Lewis had nothing but praise for Castillo and his defensive mates.

"They just play solid defense," Lewis said. "They play sound defense up front. They have no superstars, it's just everybody plays their position."

Castillo is often praised for his stellar initial quickness and his excellent footwork. Both of those qualities were on display in Baltimore, but what really stood out was his ability to disengage from blockers and work his way down the line of scrimmage on running plays directed away from him. He uses his hands well in fending off offensive lineman and has the speed to chase plays from the backside.

In addition to his physical successes, Castillo showed great awareness during the Baltimore game. Late in the first half, with the Ravens facing third-and-25, Castillo suspected the Ravens might run a draw. Rather than knifing into the backfield and overrunning the play, he held his ground at the line of scrimmage and stuffed Mike Anderson for no gain.

All things considered, it was a standout performance by Castillo on an otherwise disappointing day.

"We played a great team," said Castillo. "When you play a great team, all you can ask for as a defense is to have an opportunity at the end of the game to have it in your hands, control the game with a lead, put the win away. We couldn't do that."

Next week, when the Chargers host the Pittsburgh Steelers, we will analyze the performance of offensive tackle Shane Olivea.

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