Prospects Praise Jamal Williams at Combine

The Chargers' defensive scheme is structured around one man, Jamal Williams. As the anchor of Ted Cottrell's unit, Williams whimpering resilience to injury is a big concern going into next season. Ailments and aging aside, Williams was the talk of the NFL Combine. breaks down Williams' impact on the field and in the draft.

Jamal Williams' greatest attribute is that he can occupy two players without flinching. His ability to stuff the run has given Chargers' opponents qualms about rushing. However, opponents have had more success in recent seasons as Williams propels down the backside of his career.

For three consecutive seasons, the Chargers defense has become increasingly generous against the run. The Chargers allowed 107 yards per game last season, the most since 2003 (138.6).

Other teams are taking notice. Challengers attempted to run the ball 416 times last season, which is the most attempts against the Chargers since 2003 (518).

Williams will remain a fixture until his contract runs out after the 2010 season, but the Chargers are in a hurry to land a solid backup and potential heir apparent.

The Chargers got the ball rolling at the NFL Combine. They met with North Carolina State's DeMario Pressley, an active tackle who can hold up at the point of attack. The Chargers also met with Pressley at the Senior Bowl, so there is a definite interest.

Pressley is an admirer of Williams and is hardly the only one. Several offensive prospects at the NFL Combine spoke about the opportunity to square off against Williams next season.

"I need to get off the ball fast to give myself a chance against a guy like Jamal," said Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long. "He has so much size and speed that he can punish you if you don't get on him."

Added Virginia offensive guard Branden Albert: "If I face Jamal, I just hope I can hold my own against him."

A look back at 2007

Williams' first absence of 2007 sent Ted Cottrell into a flurry. His appearance on the bench left a gapping hole on the line. Adequate depth to fill Williams' role seemed impossible to come by. In Week 8, the Houston Texans rushed by a Williams-less line for 115 yards.

When Williams missed the final two games of regular season, the Denver Broncos ran for 82 yards and the Oakland Raiders tallied 122.

Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for She has contributed to the official Web sites of Lorenzo Neal, Shaun Phillips, Shawne Merriman and others for Sixthman Communications.

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