Bolts Add Jeremy Newberry with One-year Deal

The Chargers moved on Monday to add insurance in case Nick Hardwick isn't ready to start the season. The Bolts agreed to terms with former Pro Bowl center Jeremy Newberry on a one-year deal. Newberry will likely begin the season as the starter as Hardwick works back from foot surgery.

A.J. Smith signed his third established veteran of the offseason when he landed 10-year veteran center Jeremy Newberry with a one-year deal. The Chargers began looking for reinforcements at center once it became clear that Nick Hardwick would not be ready for the start of the season.

"Jeremy is a tough, physical, experienced player," Smith said. "He brings additional veteran leadership to the Chargers. He has always been a top-level competitor and we are pleased that he will be a part of our team."

Newberry, who has started more than 100 games during his career, provides leadership and experience at the hub position. His signing allows Cory Withrow to remain in a backup role and keeps Scott Mruczkowski focusing on his development at guard.

The Chargers were reluctant to trot out Withrow as the starter on opening day. Withrow started four games last season in place of Hardwick and the results were sub-par at best.

The Chargers averaged only 80.25 rushing yards per game in the four contests Hardwick missed. In the 12 games Hardwick started, the Bolts averaged 143 rushing yards per game. That's a remarkable difference of more than 60 yards per contest.

The hope is that Newberry will help San Diego remain north of the century mark in terms of rushing yards per game. He should also help keep the pocket clean for Philip Rivers, as Newberry has seen every exotic blitz NFL defenses have to offer.

Things could get sticky when Hardwick returns to action. Hardwick, Newberry and Withrow all play center exclusively, so odds are one of them will not survive the season. Withrow has two years left on his deal, so Newberry's stint in Blue & Gold could be shorter than expected.

Speaking of expectations, look for Hardwick to begin the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list now that the team has the depth to survive such a move. That will give Hardwick the time to fully recover before being pressed back into action, although it means he will miss at least the first six games of the season.

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