Player Spotlights

Damion Square Carving Out Weighty Role

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San Diego’s defense played much better towards the end of last season, and at least part of that was due to the increased playing time of third-year nose tackle Damion Square.

Square, an undrafted free agent out Alabama, managed six tackles and a fumble recovery in six games last season. Those are not earth-shattering numbers by any stretch, but he did show some potential.

“With Damion [Square], another guy that just shows up every day … just busting his tail,” head coach Mike McCoy said prior to the season finale. “That’s all he’s done since Day One.”

Square’s overall Pro Football Focus player grade of 65.0 ranked second among San Diego’s interior defenders, coming in behind only Corey Liuget. He also boasted the best pass-rushing grade (70.0) on the squad.

In training camp last year, Square showed decent strength and looked like one of the more agile linemen in individual drills, qualities that had helped him be a productive defender for the Crimson Tide.

In three years playing on a loaded Alabama defense, including the 2012 National Championship team, Square used his superior motor and strength to break free of opposing offensive linemen, racking up 93 combined tackles (including 18.5 for a loss) and 7.5 sacks.

While certainly athletic, Square’s size is a concern. Listed as “just” 293 pounds, Square does not have prototypical size for an 3-4 nose tackle.  However, McCoy did not seem to concerned about it last year, stating: “Position flexibility … as a defensive lineman, the ability to be able to do both [nose and end], especially with the front that we play, you have to have those guys who can do a little bit of everything.”

Square is definitely needed to be one of those guys going forward.

With starting nose tackle Sean Lissemore far from a lock to make the team next season, and defensive ends Kendall Reyes and Ricardo Matthews (thankfully) hitting free agency, defensive line is far and away one of the Bolts’ most questionable position groups going into the offseason.

If the Chargers have any shot of burgeoning into a 12-4 team, as GM Tom Telesco believes they can, the defensive line must be addressed. Telesco has the cap capital to bring in a top free agent like Muhammad Wilkerson or Damon Harrison from the Jets or Malik Jackson from the Broncos.

Also, this year’s draft is deep with defensive line prospects, and a first-round talent such as Oregon’s DeForest Buckner or Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche could make an immediate impact.

A restricted free agent, Square should be brought be back to compete with whoever the Bolts bring in this offseason. While Square is unlikely to capture a starting role on next year’s squad, he still has the motor and speed to develop into a difference-maker on passing downs.

“It’s great when you see guys that are given an opportunity and run with it,” McCoy said.

Hopefully, Square continues to see opportunities come training camp.

About Trenton Villanueva

A San Diego native, Trenton Villanueva graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a minor in the hydraulic principles of the keg. Prior to writing for SDBR, he covered sports news for FanSided and wrote music reviews for the San Diego State Daily Aztec.

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