This offseason, San Diego put an emphasis on bolstering a porous offensive line that allowed 37 sacks, blocked for only six rushing TDs and featured five starting centers in 2014. The Chargers were successful in adding a frontline starter in Orlando Franklin and depth with OTs Joe Barksdale and Chris Hairston. However, the team appears to have gained even more depth in the form of an in-house candidate.
Jeremiah Sirles, an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska in 2014, has looked good during the second week of training camp. On Wednesday, Sirles had a few nice plays in red-zone situations, getting work at both guard spots with the second- and third-team offenses.
On one run play, Sirles drove veteran DE Mitch Unrein off the line to create a nice hole. Working with the third team, Sirles blew NT Ryan Carrethers off the line and made it to the second level, adding a nice block on rookie LB Chi Chi Ariguzo. This paved the way for RB Branden Oliver's easy touchdown.
While he's looked good run blocking, Sirles' weakness has definitely been pass protection. Working against pass rushers one-on-one Wednesday, Sirles was overpowered at times by both NT Sean Lissemore and Unrein. To his credit, Sirles fared better against Unrein as the drill went on, but his ability to protect the quarterback has looked inconsistent.
Sirles has gotten extensive reps in training camp, which is a good sign for a young player trying to make a roster, but the numbers do not favor the two-time All-Big Ten offensive lineman. During the two seasons Mike McCoy has been in charge, the Bolts have entered the regular season with only eight offensive linemen. There's no reason to think this year will be any different.
The starting five looks to be all but set, with the only potential competition being between Johnnie Troutman and Barksdale on the right side of the line. Due to the versatility of Barksdale and Hairston -- who both can play guard and tackle -- the last remaining spot will likely go to a center. Trevor Robinson, who has started eight games for the Chargers and Bengals over the past three seasons, seems to be the likely candidate.
Sirles has not looked better than the linemen ahead of him on the depth chart, but he has a chance show enough in training camp to force the Bolts to keep an extra lineman on the roster. If that bid falls short, the former Cornhusker has a good chance of making it to the practice squad, where Sirles spent the first 11 weeks of last season before being called up to the active roster.
Based on last year's almost ludicrous run on offensive lineman, the Bolts need to have line depth waiting in the wings for inevitable injuries. And if history is indeed doomed to repeat itself, Sirles would be a good option for the Bolts as the season wears on.
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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. Follow him on Twitter @TrentNotDilfer