JW: Speaking of which, I noticed the big right tackle from Arkansas, Shawn Andrews, announced he's coming out.
AM: Yeah, I have the note here. Something about a sinus infection.
JW: Well, he's academically ineligible anyway. Seems he couldn't finish six hours of class work this fall. Good thing he's big, huh?
AM: He actually might be too big. Let's talk about the Chargers.
JW: They have some interesting guys I wanted to ask you about. Let's start with their offensive line because I also want to get to a point with you. Is their line a shambles?
AM: They have two rookies starting because of injuries -- Courtney Van Buren and Phil Bogle. They've actually got some skill. They're going to be alright. It's just that they're young offensive linemen.
JW: Last week they had one starter still standing from their opening-day line. Which one?
AM: Cory Raymer, the center.
JW: Solomon Page at left tackle? I heard he's awful.
AM: He was a pick-up and he hurt his ankle last game. He's a big guy who's gotten away with his size. If you have any quickness he's done. Damion McIntosh is the starter there and he could be back this week. He's a pretty good player.
JW: Is LaDainian Tomlinson the best running back in the league?
AM: Arguably. I know Marty (Schottenheimer) said he's the best he's ever seen. You could make an argument for that and not sound stupid because he's got some special qualities. He's got more physical tools than Priest Holmes. He's quicker, but not as big as Jamal Lewis. He's kind of like a stronger running Marshall Faulk. He can catch out of the backfield, make good cuts. He can do everything and he runs a little stronger than Marshall, so those are the top backs in the league now.
JW: If he played here, would we be hearing about how bad the Steelers' offensive line is?
AM: No. Here's what's wrong with our line: Our line opens up holes, but our backs…Either Amos (Zereoue) tries to make too many cuts to get through them or Jerome (Bettis) doesn't have the speed to get through them. You wouldn't be hearing about how bad our line is. That's what I think.
JW: Is David Boston still playing for the Chargers?
AM: Yeah. For some reason they're not getting him the ball the way you'd think they would. And I think he's gotten too big. He doesn't have the quickness out of the cut to separate because he's so big. Unless it's like a vertical or crossing route he doesn't have the quickness to get open, but he still can make plays.
JW: Isn't their tight end a rookie, too?
AM: Yeah but he's good. He makes some catches. Antonio Gates. He's that basketball player. They signed him as a free agent, but if you saw him you'd see he's better than any tight end here. The other wide receiver is Kassim Osgood, a rookie free agent from San Diego State. He beat out Reche Caldwell, their draft pick last year. Both of those guys are pretty good. I like Caldwell. I don't know why he's in the doghouse. This Osgood, he's alright but he doesn't have the speed. Caldwell has everything you want. I don't know what happened there.
JW: And Drew Brees?
AM: He did alright this last game but he couldn't hold onto the ball. When he was running and stuff, he couldn't hold the ball. Other than that he played half-decent, but he's not a quarterback you can put it all on his shoulders and say win me the game.
JW: How much did the Steelers like Brees coming out of college?
AM: We thought he was more of an early third-rounder.
JW: Are the Chargers going to be looking for a quarterback?
AM: The way he ends up the season will determine that, and whoever's coaching.
JW: What about the Chargers' secondary?
AM: All of those guys can flat out play. Sammy Davis and Terrence Kiel are rookies but they're good. Jerry Wilson used to be a corner and now he's their free safety. He can cover. Quentin Jammer is one of the top corners I've seen this year.
JW: Why are their stats against the pass so bad?
AM: Because they're trying to send guys since their front doesn't get any pressure. Those D-backs have the skills to play. Davis is young. He's got the skills; he's just not polished yet. Jammer's outstanding and the other guys are good. If you compare them to our secondary, Jammer would start; Davis would probably beat out Ike (Taylor); Wilson would definitely beat out (Brent) Alexander. So we'd probably have two starters and a third guy for the dime.
JW: If you'd have sat still in the draft, would Davis have been your guy?
AM: Him or maybe a running back. We liked Kiel, too. He's playing well. He's got range. His only problem is judging the ball in the air but that'll come. Their linebackers? I like them. They're all fast and aggressive and play downhill. They're instinctive. Donnie Edwards, you'd like him. I like Zeke Moreno. He just doesn't have sideline-to-sideline range. Ben Leber is active and pretty productive. The problem is their front.
JW: What's Marcellus Wiley's problem?
AM: You know, Wiley would be a great 3-4 defensive end. In our scheme he'd be unbelievable because he's almost in between a DT and a DE. As strictly a DE, he's not one of those pure, come-off-the-corner, beat-a-guy-with-speed, dip-the-shoulder rushers. He's more strong, a pull-and-jerk guy. I'm not saying he's bad. He's just not the big-ticket D-end you think of when you think of a pass rusher, but in our system he'd be unbelievable. Their other guy, Adrian Dingle, is a speed, upfield rusher who's not good against the run. Jamal Williams is totally inconsistent. If he could play every play, he'd be very good. Jason Fisk is from Tennessee. He's a stout, short-area player.
JW: An easy Steelers win?
AM: What happened to us last week? If we couldn't stop Curtis Martin, what's Tomlinson going to do with us? We've got to stop him. Then we can think about winning.
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