Chargers LB English exceeding expectations in Year One
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Posted Oct. 31, 2009 @ 6:06 p.m.
By Michael Blunda
The 2009 season was supposed to be the year in which OLB Larry English, the Chargers' first-round pick in the 2009 draft, sat back and learned from two of the game's best: OLBs Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. After all, English played defensive end in college, so his transition to linebacker figured to be a slow one. But it hasn't quite turned out that way.
While it took Phillips until Week Seven to record his first sacks of the season and Merriman — who is still not 100 percent after last year's knee surgery and has dealt with groin and foot issues during the first two months — remains without a sack through six games, English has taken advantage of his intermittent playing time to come up with two sacks, 10 tackles and a forced fumble. So much for a learning curve.
"I think it's been smooth," English told PFW about his move from end to linebacker. "I'm learning more and more still as I go. There's so much that you can learn in the playbook, and a lot of it just comes with experience and seeing things develop on the field."
English, who has rotated with Merriman and Phillips mostly on passing downs, is picking up his new position more quickly than most would have predicted. The Chargers are already lining him up all over the field and beginning to increase his playing time, even though the Northern Illinois product sees room for improvement.
"I think I've done OK," English said of his game performance thus far. "I feel obviously there's more plays for me to make out there and there's more I can do. That's my goal: to improve and make every play I can, reach that point and that comfort level."
While it was widely reported that the San Diego defense was having communication issues prior to its breakout game at Kansas City, English did not notice that. He admits the "D" has made mistakes, but he doesn't believe it has to do with coordinator Ron Rivera's scheme, which he says he already grasps fairly well.
Although they probably didn't see it coming, the Chargers can't be too upset that English has outplayed Merriman this season. With the free-agent-to-be Merriman not expected to be retained this offseason, English has provided glimpses of the playmaking ability he'll bring to the starting lineup in 2010 and beyond.