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Chargers' lack of depth is hurting them

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted Nov. 04, 2011 @ 4:50 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

While much of the blame for the Chargers' issues currently are being placed on Philip Rivers, the problems didn't begin when the quarterback started throwing interceptions. The real concern with the team started when it broke training camp with a roster that was top-heavy and lacked depth to overcome serious injuries. Despite having an impressive starting lineup, the team was akin to a precious vase on a rickety table, as what was under the first unit was a poorly constructed team that is now paying the price.

Losers of back-to-back games since a 4-1 start, the Chargers have struggled mainly because players who were expected to see minor roles are at key positions now. At no time was that more obvious than in the Week Eight overtime loss to the Chiefs, where a makeshift offensive line let down the rest of the roster at the most important times.

OLT Marcus McNeill was the biggest problem against Kansas City, as he was flagged for six penalties, including four false starts, while also allowing a pair of sacks to Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali. But according to a team source, McNeill was in severe pain with a neck stinger that normally would have had him out of the game. However because of a concussion to OLG Kris Dielman, the team was already down a top lineman, and a lack of reliable backups prevented McNeill from sitting out despite being far from 100 percent. Dielman is the team's top run blocker and could not play after suffering a serious head injury in Week Seven against the Jets, the same game that McNeill aggravated his neck. Backup Tyronne Green filled in at guard, but the team couldn't afford to have two backups on the left side of the line.

C Nick Hardwick, one of the few healthy and capable lineman on the team, is a veteran leader and somebody that everyone in the locker room respects, according to the source. Hardwick addressed the team in the days following the loss to the Chiefs, telling them to ignore outside distractions as much as possible and focus on the remaining games. The approach is admirable, but as the past few games have shown, the Chargers are always one injury away from their entire season crashing down like a rickety table. 

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