Everyone knew that the time to choose a “replacement” for the Chargers’ stellar tight end Antonio Gates was fast approaching. The 36-year-old Gates has been the go-to guy for the Bolts’ signal caller Philip Rivers for the last 10 years. The pair have set many franchise records and “Gatesy” has numerous individual statistics which have come via the arm of Rivers. The veteran TE has slowed just a bit, however, so finding a viable replacement — not in terms of production but in terms of playing time — was a focal point during the 2016 offseason.
Enter dynamic tight end Hunter Henry. As in the best tight end of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Yes, the BEST tight end of his class. The only one ranked by CBSSports.com above 70.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Check out any of his draft profiles. Many football analysts and draftniks dubbed Henry as such, the consensus stating that he had good hands, ran routes well and was a good blocker. He stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 235 pounds. His 40-yard dash time was 4.66 seconds. Sounds like just what the Chargers need at that position, right?
Henry declared his eligibility on January 4, 2016, after his junior season at Arkansas. And, why not? Just look at the former Razorback’s career stats: 1,661 receiving yards on 116 catches with nine touchdowns. Did you know that 93 of those 116 receptions went for first downs or touchdowns? Or that he had four 100-yard receiving games? His 2015 numbers of 51 grabs for 739 yards and three touchdowns plus NO DROPS culminated in Henry receiving the John Mackey Award, an honor annually bestowed upon the most outstanding collegiate tight end in the nation.
Though he has been active in all six games thus far, Henry’s debut versus the Kansas City Chiefs was quiet, as he had a lone catch for 20 yards. He came up empty in the boxscore for the Jacksonville game. The rookie finally busted out in Indianapolis to the tune of 72 receiving yards, as he caught each of the five passes tossed to him by Rivers. The only slight was that in the final minute of that game, he was stripped of the ball in what would most likely have led San Diego to a come-from-behind win.
Henry caught his first touchdown in the home game against New Orleans. It was a sweet pass caught in the middle of the field that he took to the house after 20 yards, just one of his four-catch, 61-yard day. No. 86 has scored a TD in each of the last three games. Six games into the season and he has already amassed 310 yards on 19 receptions (16.3 avg) with three scores and 16 first-down grabs.
Thursday’s game at Qualcomm had division rival Denver in town. How did Henry respond? He responded by scoring a 5-yard TD in front of Broncos’ corner Chris Harris, Jr. while the Bolts were at 2nd-and-goal in the first quarter. He finished the night with 83 yards on six catches in addition to his touchdown reception.
Having future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates as your mentor has to be right up there with being able to play in the NFL.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Gates told Ricky Henne of chargers.com: “From the time I met him, I could see he had all the intangibles.
I see him still growing. I jokingly told him, ‘If I met you before the Combine, you would have went first round! I would have showed you how to have some personality in your routes!’ Now you are seeing that personality in his routes. He already had it all, and now he is just building on it. He is a phenomenal blocker, which is rare to see coming into the league. He’s special. He really is.”
Those are TWO special tight ends that San Diego has on its roster; the master and the apprentice. Keep absorbing all the knowledge you can from No. 85, Henry. He will mold you in to a Hall of Famer, too.
“The sky’s the limit” might be a trite phrase. But in Henry’s case, there are no truer words. Whenever Gates hangs up his cleats, we all know that the team will be in good — make that great — hands!
Well, this time it wasn’t an offensive player that left a Chargers’ game with an injury.
It was their defensive signal-caller and captain, Manti Te’o.
In what is appearing to be an extremely freakish beginning to their 2016 campaign, the Bolts have suffered significant season-ending injuries to three of their starters in each of the first three games.
Keenan Allen – ACL tear to his right knee.
Danny Woodhead – ACL tear to his right knee.
Add Manti Te’o to the list, though it was his Achilles’ that gave out, not his ACL.
Even more disconcerting is that each man sustained his injury in a non-contact scenario. We’ll discuss that in another article soon.
Te’o left the game early in the first quarter of the game in Indianapolis with an immediate announcement that he was done for the day. Who was going to be “next man up” this time?
Enter rookie Jatavis Brown, a product from the University of Akron and a fifth-round pick by the Bolts in this year’s NFL draft.
While the former Zips’ linebacker was chosen for a number of reasons, his 4.47-second 40-yard dash was a primary one. His versatility and athleticism only add to his ability. Additionally, per Pro Football Focus (PFF), he was only called twice for penalties (1,629 snaps) over the last two years. PFF also stated that in 2015 when utilized as a blitzer, Brown had 15 sacks, 12 hits, and 22 hurries in 144 pass-rushing snaps. I have to say – just WOW! This from a guy who some considered to be on the small side at 5-foot-11 and 221 pounds. Looks to me like he can hold his own for sure!
Prior to his entering the game on Sunday, the only sighting of Brown was in the preseason game versus San Francisco. He started that game and made five tackles — three of which were solo stops. Since then, he has participated in all three regular season games, racking up 15 tackles (10 solo), four PDs (passes defensed) and collecting a sack and a forced fumble.
His Sunday stats were six tackles with two tackles for loss, defending two passes and adding a sack. His strip-sack of Andrew Luck should be part of a highlight reel, as it was scooped up by the recently signed Caraun Reid and run in for the score.
One of the bright spots of the afternoon in Indianapolis.
So, just who is this guy Jatavis Brown? The answer: he is a player that many scouts, teams and the like knocked due to his size, though his playmaking ability spoke for itself. It was thought that if he couldn’t perform at this level as a linebacker that he could be a hybrid-safety type defender.
In his four years at Akron, he amassed 340 tackles (193 solo), three forced fumbles, two passes defensed and an interception. The 40.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks were not only team-bests but also led the MAC while his total tackles gave him 7th best.
NFL Draft Scout had him ranked #13 out of 203 OLBs. Brown was not only chosen the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year, he was also named to the All-MAC Conference 1st-team three consecutive years.
This is the rookie that after the draft Telesco told Chargers.com writer Ricky Henne, “This is the one guy in our draft room that if we didn’t draft, I think there would have been a revolt amongst everyone else in the room…There are certain guys sometimes that have a trigger for everybody. (Brown) was a guy who everybody wanted on our football team. He’s actually the one guy that (we got) so many different texts from across the league (about) saying ‘Great pick!’ ‘Good pick!’ Those are kind of fun text messages to get during the draft.”
Brown told Henne shortly after the draft, “I do think I’m flying under the radar, but I’ve been flying under the radar my whole life,” he said. “I guess that’s just me. I like to prove people wrong, and that’s how I (operate). I don’t like the spotlight. I’m a laid back, chill guy. So this fits me just fine. I like to do all the dirty work, do what I’m supposed to do and I don’t worry about getting the publicity.”
Well, Jatavis Brown…publicity or no, here is your opportunity to take the bull by the horns and show those detractors just who you are. You had a great start in an unfortunate situation, but it’s always “next man up” in the pros.
Yeah, my money is on this young man to get the job done. I’m looking forward to seeing him blitz Brees and blow up a few plays this Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm.
Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts.
At long last, the San Diego Chargers have signed their first-round draft pick Joey Bosa today. The selection shocked everyone from all the media pundits to the Bolts fanbase themselves. The four-year deal is worth $25.8 million with a $17 million signing bonus according to Chargers.com and various major media outlets.
While waiting for his contract to get done, Bosa was a full participant in all training activities and impressed teammates with his work ethic. Newly-acquired defensive tackle Brandon Mebane had this to say about Bosa on Chargers.com:
“He’s a good guy. He asks questions. He always soaking up knowledge. He’s a little quiet right now. I can see he’s got a little nasty side in him so that’s a good thing. I think he’s a great player. I think he’s going to be a real help on our defensive line.” said Mebane.
“He don’t get tired out there. I’m thinking I’ve got to get my cardio up man. “Mebane joked. “He has great technique from what I’ve seen on the field. For a rookie he has great technique already. Seeing how good he is now compared to how good he’s going to be…once we get more and more reps every day, I think he’ll probably be a Pro Bowler.” Mebane added.
Linebacker Jerry Attaochu also had glowing words for Bosa. “He’s a great kid. Looks like he is going to give us a lot of help up front.” Attaochu said.
Offset language became the biggest point of contention holding up the deal. Offset language is simply if Bosa is cut or released during his rookie contract the Chargers are off the hook for any remaining salary he was scheduled to make.
Bosas’ management didn’t want any offset language in the contract. It means if Bosa did get cut or released before his rookie deal is up he would still get paid his full rookie contract. Players call it double-dipping, meaning a player is making full salary from his old team and his new team simultaneously.
The contract standoff deprived Bosa of needed training camp time and has also cost him the first three games of the preseason. The longest contract holdout since the inception of the next salary-slotted rookie wage scale, the Chargers’ and Bosas’ management team dug their heels in. Neither side was willing to budge over the offset language.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune and ESPN, a change in agents was the key element in breaking the contract impasse. The two sides returned to their seats at the bargaining table after the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings and two days later, Bosa is finally a member of the San Diego Chargers.
Growing frustration over Bosas’ high-profile absence raised the ire of the fanbase and his teammates were beginning to voice their disapproval as valuable training and bonding time dissipates with each day passing.
Only 13 days remain until the start of the regular season.
The Chargers’ private jet went to Bosas’ hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida last week only to return empty. Cooler heads have finally prevailed and the two sides have come to a compromise. Bosa got what he wanted, his $17 million signing bonus is fully guaranteed. He will get 85% up front and the other 15% in 2017. The Chargers got what they wanted, the offset language clause is in effect.
The deal is done. It’s time to ball. Here’s a quick look at the man who is all the buzz (both good and bad) of the Chargers’ offseason. Looking forward to seeing lots of shrugs on the field in 2016!
Welcome to San Diego, Joey Bosa!
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers’ private plane landed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday. The mission: Bring back the Chargers’ number one draft pick, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. Escort him from his childhood home to his adult home, San Diego, as a signed, sealed and delivered star of the future.
Armed with their best and final offer, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco presented the offer on Tuesday. The offer was rejected on Wednesday. The plane returned to San Diego with the same names on the passenger manifest that it left with.
The mission had failed.
To that end, the Chargers front office released a official statement detailing the specifics of their offer before pulling the offer from the table. Paraphrasing the release, future offers will be adjusted based on the looming reality that Bosa will not get sufficient practice and classroom time to make playing the week one road game against the Kansas City Chiefs a possibility. The more games Bosa misses, the less money he will make out of the gate.
Not to be outdone, the management team of Joey Bosa, CAA, issued a response to the Chargers’ statement. Their statement reads as follows:
It is unfortunate the San Diego Chargers have decided to manipulate facts and negotiate in the media. The team surely is not strengthening its relationship with Joey Bosa by taking this stance and making their position public.
We have decided that we will not engage in public negotiations or discuss numbers and/or terms in this negotiation.
We will say, that it is ironic that the team now takes issue with the timing of Joey’s arrival, since the Chargers unilaterally decided to remain silent for the first 14 days of training camp instead of replying in a timely fashion to the proposal we made on the eve of training camp on July 28th.
At this point, all we can do is continue to fight for a fair contract on behalf of our client, as we do for all of our clients. The Chargers can focus on trying to sway public opinion, but our focus will remain on our client and securing a contract for him that is fair and consistent with his draft position.
This is the typical, We’re-taking-the-high-road response we’ve seen before. If Bosa’s management had gone public first, this would have been the Chargers’ response. Once again, both sides look to be entrenched with no end in sight. At the same time, these situations can turn overnight.
This deal will happen. Bosa will be in lightning bolts before week one is underway. Simply put, there is too much money on the table for the parties to walk away from and have Bosa re-enter the 2017 draft.
1. There’s no way to ever make that money back. Even if Bosa plays for 15 years and is paid handsomely, there is no way he will account for the millions he passed on by sitting out a year. This season will always represent millions more dollars that could have been in the bank.
2. Bosa will not be picked third in the 2017 NFL Draft. The top stars of the 2017 draft class will be taken ahead of Bosa. Bosa may fall into the middle of the first round or lower due to the fact that since the Chargers own his rights, he will not be able to visit, work out for or speak to other teams. The uncertainty will cause his stock to fall and even if he is selected in the first round, he will not make as much as he will by signing with the Chargers this season.
3. Perception of owners and players. Fairly or unfairly, this ordeal casts an unflattering shadow on Bosa. Other NFL owners may pass on him after seeing how the situation unfolded in San Diego. Telesco isn’t the only GM who doesn’t waive offset language or guarantee the full signing bonus before the end of the calendar year. Players may see Bosa as an entitled diva unwilling to earn his paycheck.
In the end, Bosa’s value will never be higher than it is right now. He only hurts his pride and his bottom line if he decides to sit out and re-enter the draft. That decision would run counter to the whole purpose of these frustrating negotiations.
Bosa will not make endorsement money sitting on the couch. He will not become the next big thing in football watching the games on Sundays. The only solution is to suit up, ball out and soak up the adoration of his teammates, the fans, the city, the media and cash in on Madison Avenue as he creates SportsCenter highlights on a weekly basis.
The shrug was local at Ohio State. If he performs up to his ability and shines, it will go viral in the NFL. That’s how you get paid.
It’s go time, rookie.
The Greg One
The lines in the sand in San Diego aren’t only on the beach volleyball courts. Through this offseason, the San Diego Chargers’ front office and management team of first-round pick Joey Bosa have drawn multiple lines in the sand to see who would flinch first. The holdout is the longest since the inception of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, which implemented a rookie wage scale. The wage scale slots a first-round pick’s salary based on where they were selected from 1-32.
The only sticking point that is possible is how much in guarantees and bonuses a player will receive over the life of his rookie deal. The issue is over offset language. Offset language can be simplified as such: If Bosa is cut or released during his rookie contract the Chargers are off the hook for any remaining salary he was scheduled to make.
Bosa’s management didn’t want any offset language in the contract. It means if Bosa did get cut or released before his rookie deal is up, he would still get paid his full rookie contract, fifth-year option included. Players call it double-dipping, meaning a player is making full salary from his former team and his new team simultaneously.
On Tuesday, the Chargers’ key front office personnel flew to Bosa’s hometown in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to get the deal done. They returned to San Diego at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time without Bosa on the plane. Bosa’s camp rejected the Chargers’ final offer.
Shortly thereafter, the Chargers’ front office issued a press release detailing the specifics of their offer to the public. Taken directly from the Chargers’ official Twitter page, the statement is shown below. Click on the image to enlarge.
Statement from the San Diego Chargers on defensive end Joey Bosa. pic.twitter.com/BayBGeN22x
— San Diego Chargers (@Chargers) August 24, 2016
While fans will be on either side of this ordeal, the Chargers have let the record show — for their fans and, more importantly, for those in the locker room — that they went to Florida to get a deal done and were still rebuffed by Bosa’s management. Both sides are culpable in this standoff.
The Chargers’ publicly stated they knew Bosa was their man since the beginning of the 2015 college football season and his performance in 2015 only solidified their stance. Contract negotiations could have taken place long before the draft to ensure this scenario wouldn’t happen. Such a practice, however, hasn’t been necessary since the new CBA was ratified in 2011.
On the other hand, it can be viewed as arrogant and selfish that Bosa demands his full signing bonus in year one and his contract fully guaranteed regardless of whether he is still on the team at the end of his rookie contract. What does he have to hide? If he is as good as he thinks he is and the Chargers’ are as high on him as they have stated in the past, the chances of him getting cut or released are minuscule at best.
Everyone understands the shelf life of an NFL player is short and by all means, negotiate to maximize as much of your perceived worth as possible. In the end, you’re only worth what a team is willing to pay. Bosa is going to get the worth of his full rookie contract anyway; just over time. To ask for what no other Chargers’ player has (full signing bonus up front and no offset language) is setting a bad precedent for the present and the future.
More lines in the sand…
With their best offer shot down, the Chargers’ have pulled the offer from the table and will henceforth revise the deal based on the viewpoint that he will likely not be ready to take the field for Week one on the road in Kansas City. Now, the choice for Bosa is to sit out the season, miss out on millions of dollars and re-enter the draft in 2017 or sign and begin rebuilding a damaged relationship with the team, fans and front office.
All of a sudden, a shrug seems to be a perfect personification of how this negotiation has gone for both sides…
The sooner Bosa realizes he’s still a rookie that hasn’t played an official NFL down the better off he will be. In my opinion, he needs to swallow his pride, get on the field and prove his worth. When it’s time to negotiate the second contract, make all the demands you want. What do you think Bolt Nation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
The countdown to San Diego Chargers training camp 2016 now stands at four days. The eyes will be trained to look for the faces we know. There will be many more faces we don’t know which will require a look into the program to see who’s making head-turning plays on the field. In an effort to provide as many advance primers as possible, today, I turn my player spotlight on Carlos Wray.
Wray signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent immediately after the 2016 NFL Draft. The 6’1″, 287-pounder was the anchor of the Duke Blue Devils’ defense as their defensive tackle. Versatile, Wray was moved all over the field starting out as a defensive lineman, then to guard in his second year on the team. He had the most success his final two seasons in Blue Devils’ blue when he was moved to defensive tackle. In those two seasons he logged 86 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes defensed.
At the Duke Pro Day, Wray ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds; impressive for a man his size. He posted 26 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press, broad jumped nine feet and showed a 28.5-inch vertical leap. NFL scouts love his wide body, high motor and fundamentally sound skill set, even though he’s only been playing defensive tackle for two seasons. After watching the video below, it’s obvious he was born to play defensive tackle.
Wray was the unquestioned leader of the Blue Devils’ locker room and those leadership attributes will translate well in the NFL. The line forms behind Brandon Mebane when it comes to nose tackles for the San Diego Chargers. The mix at DT currently consists of Corey Liuget, Sean Lissemore, Ryan Carrethers, Damion Square, Tenny Palepoi and Wray.
There is opportunity to take a slot on the depth chart for Wray. If he can bring the same intensity and passion he played with at Duke to Chargers Park, he has a great chance of staying on the roster. As a native North Carolinian and ACC homer, I will definitely be pulling for Wray to make the team.
What do you think? Do you like what you see? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow Carlos on Twitter: @The1st_Montana
Good luck, Mr. Wray.
The Greg One
Last week I did a player spotlight on practice squad tight end Tim Semisch. The 6-foot-8, 267-pound pro is entering his second NFL season after being signed to the Chargers’ practice squad last December, then resigned in January. Semisch is hungry for a spot on the 53-man roster and took time out of his hectic training schedule for this interview documenting his journey.
Take us on your journey from the end of your last season at NIU to right now.
After my senior season. I trained at school (NIU) with another TE, a running back, and a D-lineman, A friend who transferred to NIU with me from a D2 school in NE. We would workout from 5am-7am every morning, 5 days a week. We would do position work in the evenings 1-3 days a week depending on our work schedules. I also played club hockey for NIU during that time.
About a month before Pro Day I had a bad injury to my hip flexor. I had to decide between surgery and be out a full year or rehab and hope it healed. So, I hoped for the best and I found an amazing PT near school who worked wonders with me. I did what I could training for Pro Day and was able to do Pro Day. I wasn’t at 100% yet but probably 75-80%. I did Pro Day and then hoped and prayed for the best.
Draft weekend came and went. The day after the draft ended I got an invite to the Dolphins rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Long story short, I fought and earned a contract and invite to stay with the team. During OTAs I learned A TON from Jordan Cameron, Jake Stoneburner, Dion Sims, and Arthur Lynch, the tight ends there. As well as our position coach(s) Dan Campbell and Mike Wahl.
I started doing extra work in the weight room-film room and would go in on my off days with a few other players to walk through plays or just work fundamentals, long snap, or all the above. Longer story short. I worked my tail off through the preseason, but it wasn’t enough for a 53-man roster spot but was on the practice squad, which only made me hungrier. I always stayed ready and up to date with the game plan every week. I wanted to learn as much as possible and I knew I could be called up any minute, which almost happened a couple times with injuries to both Dion and Jordan.
Near the end of the season, the defense in Miami took a hit due to some injuries and they needed space to bring in some depth. At time the TE room was healthy. I was the low man on the totem pole at the time and was let go. That’s just how this business is sometimes. But luckily a few weeks, and many stressful nights later, I was lucky enough to be picked up by the Chargers have been out in San Diego ever since!
You caught 10 passes in three seasons at NIU, yet last season in Miami you made it through until the final cut to 53. What did the scouts in Miami and San Diego see in you that led them to sign you to their practice squads?
They haven’t told me much. As a player, you don’t get a ton of contact with the scouts. So other than the usual: We like your size, athleticism, ability to long snap, etc, etc… I’d like to think it’s my work ethic. I pride myself on being the first in building and the last one off the field every day. To me, there’s always something I can be working on to improve myself and my game.
Take us through a day in the life of Tim Semisch, Chargers practice squad player.
(Here was my OTA schedule during the week) 4:30am wake up. Quick breakfast. At the facility by 5-515 at the latest. Hot tub/steam for 10-15 minutes. Then lift and run until 645-7. Second, bigger breakfast. Film study or playbook study in the TE room for 30-45 minutes. Then team schedule until practice was over around 1pm. Stay on the field for extra work. Juggs, blocking sled, special teams work, long snapping, conditioning, anything I felt I needed work. Then lunch, then watch the day’s practice on my own and any extra film.
I tried to watch 2-3 games from last year every week during OTAs. Then head home to relax or hang out with friends. Go to the beach, I lived in PB during OTAs so I was at the beach almost if not everyday. Even if it was for 10-20 minutes just to relax and watch the sunset. My schedule in camp will be about the same, the days will just be longer and I probably won’t make it out to the beach much either lol.
You have a great opportunity to pick the brain of one of the greatest tight ends ever to play the game, Antonio Gates. Do you get to spend much time learning from him on or off the field?
I watch as much film of Gates as I can, game or practice. When I’m around him on the field, I’ll ask him for tips or advice on certain routes, or how he reads the coverages. If I’m struggling with something he’s always willing to walk through stuff or just talk football and say/show how he would handle different things.
Being on the practice squad must come with more uncertainty than if you were a drafted rookie. How do you prepare mentally to achieve your goal of making the 53-man roster?
That’s what drives me. I know I’m fighting an uphill battle. Being undrafted, from a small school, with little to no stats, the odds are not exactly in my favor. But, with all that said, I know I can bring a lot to the table and be a key player in helping a team win. So for me, I use it as motivation to keep my head down and to keep working. Being on the practice squad last year only made me hungrier and want a roster spot more.
I found a South Florida television interview in which you told the reporter that at NIU you played a few snaps at defensive end. A. How did that happen? B. Would you do it again? C. Have you told Pagano?
A. I played it in HS and actually had more INTs than receptions on varsity. (We ran the wing-T triple option. So we didn’t pass much). My sophomore year, our two All-Conference DE’s begged for a special trick play on offense. So they played TE a couple times. The plays never worked tho. But me and another TE struck a deal with the d-line coach that if they got to take our spot, we’d get to take their spot if the chance presented itself. So we took some reps at practice from time to time. And the coach actually liked me as a DE, but I was only an emergency back-up.
B. I would do it in a heartbeat, no questions asked!
C. I mentioned it to coach Pagano once or twice in passing but I doubt he took me serious. I would love a chance at some reps at it though. I have mentioned it to Melvin Ingram and he’s showed me a few things if I ever get the chance to take a few reps.
We all know Philip Rivers loves his tight ends. We can all only imagine how much fun he would have throwing to a 6-foot-8 target. Have you had much time to catch balls from him and, if so, what has that experience been like?
Working with Phil has been an awesome experience, from the way he explains how he wants certain routes run, to how he throws the ball. The first couple times we would go out as an offense to throw, it was kinda a surreal feeling catching passes from Philip Rivers. It’s been an awesome experience to just be around him and Gates and watch how true pros work day in and day out.
Do you have a roommate whom you live with on the team or do you live alone?
I lived by myself during OTAs. I got an Airbnb out in PB before we even started team activities. But I always either had guys over, or would hangout with other guys on the team.
Mike McCoy recently said he wants the team to have more fun on the field. Have you seen this statement manifest itself in practice yet?
Absolutely, from the music that’s played at practice, to the competitive trash talk between the guys and even a few coaches. You could tell everyone, coaches and players alike, were having fun while still working hard at practice.
Who is your best friend on the team? Do the practice squad players have a brotherhood type of mentality based on the fact you’re all in the same boat, so to speak?
I wouldn’t pick one guy as my best friend in-particular. But I’d say the TE group as whole is pretty close off the field. Outside of them, Danny Woodhead has been a great role model and vet for me to be around. Also the specialist group as whole, I work a lot with both Casey And Drew on long snapping and Mike and Josh on short snaps as well. But I wouldn’t say the practice squad are any different than the active roster guys during the season. Everyone pretty much acts as one team. It sucks being a new guy when you come. Most guys have been there so they show you the ropes the first couple days, because every team operates differently.
Give us your favorite moment since arriving in San Diego (on or off the field).
Other than being a 10-minute walk to the beach everyday, I’d say the last home game of last season. It was against my old team so I got to see some old friends and coaches. We won the game, and best of all, Qualcomm was ROCKING. With everyone showing their support for the team, and wanting the team to stay in San Diego. It was just an amazing day and game to be a part of.
What message would you like to give the San Diego Chargers fans?
I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this city and this team. And if given the opportunity, I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team win and go from worst to first!
BoltBlitz.com would like to thank Tim for taking the time to do this interview. We’re all rooting for you!
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TDSemisch82
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers secured the future of the tight end position with their selection of Arkansas Razorbacks All-American, John Mackey Award-winning stud Hunter Henry in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Henry is tabbed as the heir apparent to Hall-of-Fame bound Antonio Gates. As we all know, injuries are a very real thing in pro football. The Chargers have been decimated by injuries season after season. Unfortunately, not all high draft picks pan out.
One can never be too prepared.
With the first two slots on the depth chart filled, the challenge of finding a solid third tight end will be an interesting camp battle to watch. Stepping up to the challenge are:
1. Asante Cleveland, a second-year pro out of the University of Miami.
2. Jeff Cumberland, a seventh-year pro who spent his first six seasons with the New York Jets.
3. Sean McGrath, a second-year pro out of Henderson State.
4. Matt Weiser, an undrafted free agent rookie out of the University of Buffalo.
One of the biggest long shots in the field is literally the biggest of the entire group. While the aforementioned four players all average a stout 6’5″, 250-pounds, Tim Semisch stands 6’8″, 267-pounds.
Semischs’ pro career began with the Miami Dolphins where he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. After toiling away on the Dolphins’ practice squad he was released in November and signed to the Chargers’ practice squad in December.
Semisch signed a futures contract in January 2016 and will be competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. Semisch played his college ball at Northern Illinois University. While he’s not fast (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 at NIU’s pro day), his height, length and versatility will be features that make him a viable candidate as a possible third tight end or special teams.
In a pre-draft interview, Semisch explained that at NIU he was able to take advantage of his size advantage, be a good pass catcher or blocker, can rush the passer if needed and he also became a good long snapper. He stated his desire to play wherever is necessary to make the team.
While he was used primarily as a blocker he did show the ability to make big plays in the passing game, as evidenced in the video clip below. In three seasons he caught a grand total of ten passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. If he makes the 53-man roster with Rivers throwing him the ball, he’s likely to eclipse those numbers in one game.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TDSemisch82
Here’s to rooting for the underdog and unearthing more diamonds in the rough! Good luck Mr. Semisch.
The Greg One
The hype surrounding Manti Te’o prior to the San Diego Chargers selecting him in the 2013 draft was mountainous, to say the least. Then first-year general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven slots (from 45th to 38th) to take the former Fighting Irish linebacker.
After all, Te’o had received a plethora of awards and trophies at the end of the 2012 collegiate season: The Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Trophy (the nation’s most outstanding football player), the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and a two-time winner of The Butkus Award (once in high school and then again in 2012 with Notre Dame). There was also this one other little thing – Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Those are ALL spectacular acknowledgements. In 51 games at Notre Dame, he amassed a total of 437 tackles (212 solo/34 for loss), 12 quarterback hits, 8.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 10 pass break ups, 17 passes defensed with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Te’o has the distinction of being only the second linebacker of Polynesian descent drafted by the Bolts, the first, of course, being Junior Seau. Te’o was also the highest selected Fighting Irish linebacker drafted since Demetrius DuBose in 1993.
At this juncture in his young career, Te’o’s pro stats look like this through 35 games: 202 tackles with 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He has missed 13 games due to injuries to both feet dating back to his rookie season.
Here is the list of his various ailments since entering the NFL:
August 8, 2013: Sprains his foot in a game against the Seattle Seahawks. He is seen in a walking boot two days later and ends up missing the next five games. Ultimately has surgery in the offseason to repair a bone in his right foot.
August 15, 2014: Another preseason game versus the Seahawks has Te’o injuring his left foot. He sits out the next two weeks and is back in action for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
September 21, 2014: In the road game versus the Buffalo Bills, he injures his right foot. It’s bad news for the Bolts when it is announced that Te’o suffered a fracture. He doesn’t take the field again until after the Week 10 bye when San Diego faced the Oakland Raiders.
Te’o stayed injury-free for the remainder of the 2014 season, compiling an additional 40 tackles over the last seven games. In that stretch, he managed to get his first NFL interception in a Sunday Night game against the New England Patriots on the Chargers’ own turf. The pass was intended for Rob Gronkowski. Two weeks later, he collected the first sack of his pro career, on 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
October 12, 2015: The Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for a Monday Night matchup. Unfortunately, the guy wearing No. 50 had to leave the game for a few snaps to get his ankle taped. While he did return to the contest, and finish with seven tackles, he again is out for over a month trying to get it strong once more.
The Chargers are in a bit of a pickle here. Right now the team is loaded at linebacker with the likes of Te’o (who will be calling the defensive plays), Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and sophomore Denzel Perryman most likely the starters. Joining the mix are second-year men Kyle Emanuel and Nick Dzubnar; plus rookies Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil. There is also fourth-year player Tourek Williams, who returns after a limited 2015 due to breaking his foot in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, linebackers coach Bob Babich and defensive coordinator John Pagano are going to be putting in plenty of observation and film study over the next couple of months to determine who potentially makes the roster, moves to the practice squad or ends up being released.
Whether Manti Te’o remains a Charger for the entirety of his career remains to be seen. However, Te’o staying injury-free might solidify his spot. The Chargers have always liked him for his leadership ability, strong work ethic, perseverance and instincts. He is an extremely smart player. His only downfall has been an inability to play an entire 16-game season.
Now, I know that there are many people out there who are not fans of Te’o for whatever reason(s). No, he doesn’t always wrap up and tackle his target. Yes, sometimes he runs a bit slow. He is, however, starting to become the tackling machine that had him landing on several top-ten college recruiting lists before he began his senior year of high school.
Te’o himself said it best in a December 2014 interview with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’ve always been one to keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding, keep grinding. I’m going to continue to get better because I’m going to continue to work.”
Yet the question remains, is Te’o going to be part of San Diego’s plans beyond the ’16 campaign? When all is said and done, this is a business. There is going to be stiff competition at the inside linebacker spot next month from the rookie Perry. We could very well see a repeat of Butler versus Te’o, and that might not end well for Manti. He’s been put on notice. As much as I like No. 50, I don’t think he will be sporting blue and gold come the 2017 season.
I’m pulling for him to stay with the team and pick up where he left off in 2015.
What do you think? Share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
Special teams captain. Pro Bowler. Safety. Motivator.
Those are just a few of the terms that one could use to describe the San Diego Chargers jack-of-all-trades Darrell Stuckey.
Stuckey was a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award last year. The honor was a direct result of his volunteerism not only in San Diego but also in his hometown of Kansas City. In Kansas City he conducts football camps, community projects and works with a non-profit organization called “Not For Sale”. The mission of Not For Sale is to protect people and communities from human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
The 5-foot-11 1/2, 212-pounder has been with San Diego since he was drafted in the fourth round (#110) of the 2010 draft. The former University of Kansas Jayhawk logged 295 career tackles, second-most all time behind Leroy Irvin (the former Rams/Lions defensive back). He also had eight interceptions and eleven tackles for loss in his four-year career there.
At the NFL Combine he clocked the 40-yard dash at 4.49 seconds. He also made a 39.5-inch vertical jump. His height may have been a bit of a concern, but the guy is a ball hawk.
In 73 games, Stuckey has 41 tackles to his name. Besides that, there are five defended passes, two forced fumbles and a sack. He also has five fumble recoveries, of which the best-known came on December 7, 2014 when New England’s wideout Brandon LaFell was hit by Jahleel Addae. Stuckey scooped up the ball and took it 60 yards to the house. It was the longest fumble recovery in Bolts history.
It’s no wonder that his play in the 2014 campaign resulted in his being voted to his first Pro Bowl appearance. His selection was initially as first alternate, however, he ended up joining then teammate Eric Weddle in Hawaii when Patriots player Matthew Slater had to bow out because New England was headed to the Super Bowl.
Those are all wonderful things to be able to be known for long after his football career is over. What seems to give Stuckey the most satisfaction in life is what he does off the field of play.
Being one of the most active Chargers players in the San Diego community is just a small part of who Darrell Stuckey is. He is a participant in the team’s annual “Community Corner” program, which purchases game tickets for charity. Additionally, he is involved with “Athletes for Charity”, a non-profit organization that is dedicated towards improving the lives of disadvantaged and underprivileged youth. In his hometown of Kansas City, he also dedicates his time to the Youth City Network and the KC United Dotte Football Camp.
Let me add just one more charity: Living4One. This organization was founded by Darrell and his wife, Lacie, in 2012. One of the reasons they created it is to assist individuals in recognizing that we each have a purpose in life and it is not solely our day-to-day existence.
To quote Stuckey from the Living4One webpage, their purpose is this: “We must discover our gifts and talents, perfect them, and incorporate them into the master plan. We all have a purpose to fulfill. Our purpose influences the people we are around in our workplace, team, family and community. We must use our gifts to better the world we live in. There is no greater joy than a purpose fulfilled.”
Stuckey is quite obviously a man who leads by example, whether on the field or in the community. His unpretentiousness and willingness to provide support for others in some of life’s most unfair and desperate times is refreshing.
Darrell Stuckey would certainly have my vote if fans could somehow publicly recognize his efforts once his playing days are over.
Take a bow, sir. You are a bright light in a sometimes unfair and discouraging world and I thank you for your selflessness.
Thanks for reading.