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NT Franklin, young DEs keep Garay off the field

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Oct. 01, 2012 @ 3:04 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

One of the many free-agent acquisitions the Chargers made this offseason, and one of the last, NT Aubrayo Franklin, has helped the run defense, and his play is one of the reasons we haven’t seen veteran Antonio Garay.

We’re told the Chargers love what Franklin brings to the run defense. “He’s such a heavy veteran nose guard who knows how to play the game and understands the run game,” defensive coordinator John Pagano told reporters last week. “He helps the other guys around him. He’s seen just about every run and he’s gone against just about every lineman and center in the league, so it’s good having him in there at that matchup.” Franklin has seven tackles and has started all four games.

When the Chargers signed Franklin, GM A.J. Smith responded to a question about Franklin’s effect on Garay by explaining that Garay has versatility to play end, but he’s been a healthy scratch in the last three games without much of an explanation. He missed the season opener with an ankle injury.

One thought is that Garay, who signed a two-year deal in March, needs more reps in practice at D-end. We hear that Garay is not falling out of favor, but it’s still a bit of a mystery why he’s not on the field, aside from a simple numbers game — Garay may simply be the victim of a youth movement up front. Vaughn Martin and Corey Liuget both had huge games at defensive end in Week Four and rookie Kendall Reyes was on the field for 47 percent of snaps. Franklin’s backup at nose tackle, Cam Thomas, has a pair of QB hits this season. The D-line has been one of the Chargers’ biggest strengths in its three wins, and that has been without Garay.

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