Eric D. Williams
When a dream becomes reality it is always something special. For Tenny Palepoi, that day happened a little over two years ago when he joined the Chargers as an undrafted rookie.
The former University of Utah player is known for his tenaciousness and his work ethic. To put it quite simply, Palepoi works incredibly hard.
Defense runs through his Samoan veins. One of his older brothers, Anton, also a defensive end, was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in round two (#60) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He was one of the highest draft picks to come out of UNLV in 14 years. Father Tony played for the Samoan National Rugby Team.
Whenever Tenny decided to play football, I’m sure the game plan came about as part of his being one of fourteen kids who had to defend themselves growing up with all those bodies!
He began his journey into football at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. While there he collected 49 tackles, 10 TFL (tackles for loss), two sacks and a fumble recovery in 2011. In 2012 he transferred to the University of Utah where he logged 74 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 6.5 sacks. He took over the nose tackle position when teammate Star Lotulelei was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2013. Palepoi was team captain for the Utes and chosen to the second-team All-PAC-12 team (2013). He was also considered one of the best nose tackles in the PAC-12 that year.
Palepoi signed with San Diego just over two years ago as an undrafted free agent. It probably helped having fellow Ute alumni Eric Weddle to help with the transition.
The young defensive tackle played all 16 games of his rookie season. He finished the year with 16 tackles, of which nine were solo endeavors.
One of his best, and most likely difficult, games came November 30, 2014. A road matchup against the Baltimore Ravens mere days after his older brother Francis passed away at just 42 years of age due to a heart condition. That contest saw Palepoi make three tackles in the Bolts’ first win in M & T Stadium in three years.
By all means his sophomore campaign should have been even better. That all went by the wayside when he fractured his foot during training camp on August 1. On August 3, the announcement was made that the young lineman was being placed on the Reserve/Injured list. Coach Mike McCoy further stated, (in part from Eric D. Williams of ESPN)
“This is the part of the business that sucks. I hate to say it, but that’s just the truth. A guy that works as hard as he has…he is one of the guys here all the time…he’s made the most out of every single opportunity he’s had. He had an outstanding year last year, and it sucks to be honest with you.”
I would expect that if he has such a gung-ho work ethic that Palepoi focused sheer determination into getting ready for a 2016 comeback. I know he can be a force once again in John Pagano’s defensive schemes.
Thank you for reading!
After Tom Telesco was brought in as the new general manager in 2013, one of his priorities was to improve the offensive line. That year he drafted right tackle, D.J. Fluker out of Alabama. Although it partially aided the right side, the addition wasn’t enough.
In 2014, injuries plagued the offensive unit into oblivion. Philip Rivers went without veteran center and longtime teammate, Nick Hardwick, after he spent almost the entire season on injured reserve. By the end of the year, Rivers was on his fifth center. According to Pro Football Focus, San Diego ranked 27th in pass blocking, and 26th in run blocking at the end of last season. If things are going to change in 2015, Telesco needs to make ascendant transactions.
As the team made its way into the offseason, Bolt fans questioned how the Chargers will find the talent needed to fix the offensive line. Telesco started off by re-signing left tackle, King Dunlap, this year’s respectively best free agent in his position. Shortly after locking up Rivers’ stud blocker, the young general made great strides by signing former Denver Bronco’s guard, Orlando Franklin to the roster. In addition to securing Dunlap and Franklin, Telesco also re-signed center Trevor Robinson. These transactions alone have brought the Chargers’ very mediocre line to a contending unit.
So, have the Bolts done enough to fix the offensive line? The answer is almost. According to Eric D. Williams of ESPN, Tom Telesco stated that Johnnie Troutman, as of right now, is the team’s starting right guard. Considering Troutman has been far from impressive, that’s extremely alarming. WalterFootball.com reported that Johnnie Troutman and Chad Reinhart were the worst guard duo in the league in 2014. Franklin replaces Rinehart, but that still leaves a frightening breach at right guard.
There has been a lot of talk about shifting Fluker from tackle to guard this offseason. He has no experience in the position. Not in high school, and not in college. Yet, let’s say he is moved, it still leaves a gap in the tackle position. A potentially effective way to address the matter would be to swing Fluker to the inside, and find a tackle in this year’s draft. Even though San Diego needs a running back after the departure of Ryan Mathews, this year’s draft class is loaded with talented running backs. It’s not an outrageous option to think about taking a offensive lineman like Ereck Flowers in the first round.
A solid offensive line has proven fruitful for some clubs in the NFL. Since 2011, the Dallas Cowboys have drafted three offensive linemen in the first-round: Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. The other two, Ronald Leary and Doug Free, were undrafted free agents. Last season, the Cowboys finished with the 4th best pass blocking, and the 2nd best run blocking in the league. If the Chargers want those type of results, it would have to be from following Dallas’ blueprint.
As of today, the line lists as follows: LT King Dunlap, LG Orlando Franklin, C Chris Watt, RG Johnnie Troutman, and RT D.J. Fluker. Not bad, but not stellar. If the Bolts plan to contend for a playoff appearance in 2015, they will need a comprehensive offensive line. An upgraded line will upsurge Rivers’ productivity, plus adding some life to the lackluster run game. With less than five weeks left until the 2015 NFL Draft, fans will have to continue to wait and see what the Chargers organization plan to do with their six picks.
Should the Chargers draft a offensive lineman in the first round? Vote your opinion below:
Amid all the hype that occurred last week after the official opening of free agency, Tom Telesco has remained undercover. Since last Tuesday, only four players have been signed: Orlando Franklin, Jacoby Jones, Jimmy Wilson, and most recently Stevie Johnson. The addition of these men fill huge roster holes, yet many say it’s not enough. To Telesco, it’s right where he wants to be.
Telesco came to the Chargers organization with a rich history of back office transactions and an impressive draft bloodline. Under the wing of one of the NFL’s most successful executives, Bill Polian, he learned the virtue of patience and the futility of free agency. Polian spent time with the Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2011 where he acquired future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, and won Super Bowl XLI as Team President. He was also the Buffalo Bills’ general manager from 1986 to 1992 when the team appeared in three consecutive Super Bowls.
Phillip B. Wilson of IndyStar said Polian admits he took heat for not spending on free agents, “but too often I believed I wouldn’t get a good return on the financial investment. So, despite the criticism, I took a very conservative approach to free agency, abiding by a list of do’s and don’ts that helped my teams maintain a high level of success in both the short and long-term.”
No matter how you cut it, free agency isn’t what it’s worked up to be. Fans have become so accustomed to seeing their favorite teams sign big name players that they expect those same transactions every year. For Telesco, he doesn’t need those big names, he wants fruitfulness and longevity.
According to Eric D. Williams of ESPN, Telesco waited 10 days after the start of free agency to sign current running back Danny Woodhead. The young general manager continues to do his homework, working tirelessly in selecting the right guy, but ensuring he is best fit on the field and in the locker room.
There’s no reason for Telesco to sign players like Greg Hardy or even Percy Harvin. Yes, he has plenty of salary-cap space and leeway, but it’s not how he wants to play the game. The draft is where all talent acquisitions ascend, and that’s a mindset a lot of NFL personnel are moving towards.
Teams like the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks build their Super Bowl teams from the draft. In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, he too reiterated the necessity and desire to build from the bottom up. Has he signed some big hitters so far? Yes, but what Kelly is attempting to do is restructure the team via free agency in a single season, then continue to build a team from the draft thereafter.
Tom Telesco came to San Diego with the desire to build a Super Bowl contending team via the NFL Draft. So far, he has filled roster voids with a small amount, yet much-needed free agent acquisitions. He plans to continue his legacy come April 30th in Chicago. Reminding all of you that it’s only the eighth day of free agency, there is still plenty of time left on the clock.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports ranks the top-50 free agents going into the 2015 season.
Sam Farmer of the LA Times writes about the Chargers and Raiders sharing a stadium in Carson.
Eric D. Williams of espn.com talks about the recent possibility of the Chargers and Raiders sharing a stadium.
Kevin Acee of UT San Diego throws in some information on the proposed move to LA.
Jamie Reno wrote about the quality, or lack thereof, of the Charger fanbase. ( Boo!! )
Chargers.com features Tom Telesco answering fan questions.
Eric D. Williams of espn.com writes about the Chargers scheduling a meeting with draft prospect La’El Collins.
Tania Milberg of BarkingBeast.com has the Barking Beast Runway show Friday at 6:00 pm at the Westin San Diego. ( BoltBlitz.com is a sponsor for the event. )
Michael Gehlken of UT San Diego talks about Telesco’s thoughts on contract extensions for Rivers and Weddle.
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times digs into the tension surrounding the Chargers and the city.
Chargers.com talks to Jason Verrett and Chris Watt about the importance of the combine.
Eric Williams of espn.com takes a look at Mel Kiper’s mock draft for the Bolts and the running back situation.
Tom Krasovic of UT San Diego looks at the Chargers’ special teams units from last year.
Derek Togerson of NBC San Diego writes about San Diego head coach Mike McCoy.
Eddie Brown of UT San Diego writes about where Charger players ranked as high school recruits going into college.
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com talks about the fact that Philip Rivers has avoided back surgery for now.
Tom Krasovic of UT San Diego looks back at the players the Chargers did not re-sign going into the 2014 season.
Eric Williams of ESPN.com examines the Charger secondary going into the 2015 offseason.
Chargers.com writes about the retirement of Nick Hardwick.
Derek Togerson of NBC San Diego writes about the NFL saying that concussions are down.
Sid Saraf of Fox Sports.com writes about Eric Weddle’s tweet regarding Warren Sapp’s recent arrest.
Gene Cubbison of NBC San Diego posts about whether or not the public should be made more aware of the goings on regarding the stadium situation.
Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com talks about the hiring of Mike Nolan as Linebackers coach. He also looks at the offensive line going into the 2015 season.
Eddie Brown of UT San Diego writes about National signing day and his top-5 uncommitted recruits.
Eddie Brown III of UT San Diego posts a full 3-round mock draft.
Kevin Acee of UT San Diego talks about LaDainian Tomlinson’s comments about San Diego pursuing Adrian Peterson.
Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com profiles the 2015 tight end position for the Chargers.
Derek Togerson of NBC San Diego interviews offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles.
Stay tuned for my interviews with Gene Cubbison of NBC San Diego, NFL linebacker Thomas Keiser and Charger offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles in the next week or so.
It appears that Mel Kiper Jr. has mocked Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby to the Chargers with the 25th pick in the first round. I say that it “appears” that way because it is listed on ESPN.com/NFL as an insider piece and I am not a part of that subscription. I found it in a post by Eric D. Williams right here.
Roby had a rough 2013 season. Any of you that watched Jared Abbrederis steal Roby’s lunch money repeatedly in their matchup can attest to some of the issues. There is some speculation the Roby played with a certain level of remorse for returning to school as opposed to taking the next step and going on to the NFL.
Although 2013 had more ups than downs, Roby is very athletic with great speed; he was timed at a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at the combine while adding a 38.5-inch effort in the vertical jump. At a shade under 6’0″ and 192 pounds, Roby has good size for the position.
I am sure that I can speak on behalf of the entire fanbase when I say that both Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert would be more desirable if the team goes corner in round one, but chances are that they’ll both be gone. I’d actually prefer Jason Verrett and Kyle Fuller over Roby as well.
It may sound like I wouldn’t like the selection of Roby, but that is not the case. I would just prefer to either draft a different position or one of the other top-5 cornerbacks.
How would you feel if Kiper Jr. is right and the Bolts picked Roby? Leave me a comment below with your opinion on the matter.