Siler's Time to Shine

Four months ago, Brandon Siler was tabbed a steal. Four weeks into training camp, he is on the verge of having his roster spot stolen by an undrafted rookie. If Siler hopes to add some shine to his lackluster professional résumé, it will happen during Saturday's game against the Arizona Cardinals. Starter Matt Wilhelm and third-round pick Anthony Waters will miss the game with injuries.

If his three years at Florida are any indication, Brandon Siler has the ability to be an elite linebacker. In his first season, he was named SEC Freshman of the Year after leading his team with 77 tackles. He was named third-team All-SEC as a sophomore and earned second-team honors as a junior.

The decision to forgo his senior season and enter the draft appears foolish in hindsight. However, most scouts anticipated Siler being chosen on the first day of the draft, so it is hard to blame him for believing the same.

Unfortunately, Siler has played down to his seventh-round status since arriving at training camp. Whether he is fighting off blocks or covering runners out of the backfield, he seems to be a step slow in all of his assignments. Additionally, he has authored a scant number of impact plays and failed to garner the attention of the coaching staff.

The Chargers will likely keep nine linebackers on the roster, and Siler is penciled into the ninth and final spot. However, undrafted rookies Nick Roach and Jyles Tucker will both push Siler for his place on the active roster.

Roach is an undersized, overactive tackling machine from Northwestern. He has a knack for slipping off blocks and sniffing out ball carriers. Also, he has proven to be effective in coverage, especially in nickel situations.

Tucker is an outside linebacker and powerful edge rusher. He has a blue-collar work ethic and always goes to the whistle. He has been a standout on special teams, too, which is crucial when determining the makeup of the backend of the roster.

Siler must step up his game if he is to outlast Roach and Tucker, starting with Saturday's road game against the Arizona Cardinals. With Matt Wilhelm (calf) and Anthony Waters (knee) both expected to miss the game due to injuries, Siler will get to play most of the second half with the second-string defense.

It is crucial that Siler comes up with some big plays that make him pop on film. Whether it's jarring a ball loose, busting up a play in the backfield or delivering a punishing hit, he must do something to get noticed.

Time is running short and a once-golden opportunity is beginning to tarnish.

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