Jyles Tucker ready to fight for roster spot

The San Diego Chargers' roster is littered with former undrafted free agents. Antonio Gates, Stephen Cooper and Eric Parker all failed to hear their names called on draft day, yet each of them is now starting on a championship-caliber team. Jyles Tucker, a rookie free agent from Wake Forest, hopes to add his name to the list.

Jyles Tucker (6-foot-3, 262 lbs.) played defensive end at Wake Forest, but is making the transition to outside linebacker with the Chargers. This is his first time playing in a 3-4 scheme.

"I'm used to playing in a basic 4-3 defense, playing end and sacrificing myself to free up linebackers," Tucker said. "This is my first time standing up, but I feel capable of doing well like this."

He certainly has the skills to excel in the Chargers' aggressive defense. He has the speed to make plays from sideline to sideline and the closing burst to bring heat off the edge.

Those skills drew plenty of attention once Tucker fell through the cracks of the draft. The Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins were also interested in signing him up, but Tucker liked what he saw in San Diego.

"The Chargers have a great possibility of going to the Super Bowl," Tucker explained. "The thing I noticed during Mini Camp is that everybody is working towards the same goal. On some teams, the stars don't always work as hard. Here, everybody is working, and I would love to be a part of that."

Although the odds are stacked against him -- as they are against all undrafted free agents -- Tucker knows what he must do to stick around.

"The most important thing for me is to learn the playbook," he said. "After that, it's just playing football and I've been doing that all my life."

While football comes naturally to him, making the transition to the pro level requires some help. For that, Tucker has turned to his teammates.

"All the veteran guys, Marques Harris, Shawne Merriman, Shaun Phillips and Carlos Polk were helping me and Antwan Applewhite get adjusted. I didn't want to ask too many questions, because as a free agent you don't have too much room to mess up, but they were all willing to help."

After soaking in some veteran knowledge, Tucker knows what it will take to be successful in his quest for a roster spot.

"I have to make plays within the defense. And on special teams, I have to do everything they'll let me do. I have to work harder than the man next to me."

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