Player Spotlights

Will Tenny Palepoi’s Return Spark the D-Line?


Every season, some surprising undrafted free agents play their way onto the final roster. Last season, it was WR Tyrell Williams and OT Tyreek Burwell. The year prior, it was DE Tenny Palepoi.

Undrafted out of Utah, Palepoi made an impression in training camp and the preseason, where he managed eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Palepoi levied his play into a spot on the 53-man roster in 2014.

After a productive offseason in 2015, it appeared Palepoi was again on his way to making the roster again. However, a fractured foot suffered in the first padded practice of training camp derailed his entire sophomore season.

Prior to his injury, Palepoi looked to be developing into a solid rotational player. In his rookie year, Palepoi recorded 18 total tackles, including four for a loss, while playing only 27 percent of the defensive snaps.

While Palepoi does not having dominating size (6’1″, 298 lbs.) or strength, he has good quickness and agility for an interior lineman. Those traits served him well at Utah, where Palepoi was a team captain as a senior. In two seasons with the Utes, he wracked up 74 tackles, 12.4 stuffs and 6.5 sacks.

Palepoi has a professional sports pedigree. His father, Tony, played rugby for the Somoa national team. His brother, Anton, played defensive end for five years in the NFL.

The Chargers could have certainly used Palepoi last season, especially with injuries to Corey Liuget, Sean Lissemore and rookie Darius Philon straining the depth on an already weak defensive line.

This offseason, the Bolts have added some beef along the line with the signing of run-stuffing former Seahawk Brandon Mebane and the re-signing of Damion Square. On the flip side, Kendall Reyes is now a Redskin and Ricardo Mathews is still a free agent and unlikely to return.

While the loss of Reyes and Mathews could be classified as “addition by subtraction,” the D-line could still use improvement. The Chargers will certainly address this at some point in the draft, possibly even by drafting Oregon’s DeForest Buckner at No. 3.

Still, the Chargers can certainly use the added depth from Palepoi’s return. Even if he is not in any contention for a starting job, Palepoi should provide solid competition for the younger defensive linemen like Philon, Square, Ben Gardner and Chuka Ndulue.

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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