The time is now


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Jan 22, 2006
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The time is now

Offensive tackle Jordan may be poised to assert himself after up-and-down year
By Kevin Acee
July 30, 2006

The praise of Leander Jordan has picked up as the limp of Roman Oben has lingered.
Whether it is hopeful thinking or the honest observations of men duly impressed, it is overwhelming in its harmony.

“I think he may jump up and surprise some people this year,” Marty Schottenheimer said.

“He's worked his (rear) off,” Nick Hardwick said.

“His whole demeanor has been really good – his attitude, his aggressiveness,” Philip Rivers said.

Jordan, 28, has heard the praise and is somewhat puzzled. But he also understands it.

He explains his reaction to finally getting some playing and the resulting emergence thusly: “It's like a pit bull. They don't really get aggressive until they get bit.”

There is a pervading perception that the Chargers' success will have much to do with whether Roman Oben's left foot allows him to return to playing left tackle. However, there is not only a growing realism about the likelihood Oben will be ready for the season, there is a sense that Jordan would be a more-than-adequate fill-in.

“He has worked diligently through the offseason, not only on football but on conditioning and strength,” Schottenheimer said. “He's an athletic young man. He has not played a whole lot of football. As you watch him develop, he seems to get more confidence.”

Jordan started the final eight games of 2005 in place of Oben, who went on to have two offseason surgeries. Jordan was at times, particularly in pass protection, ineffective. He appeared to tire, both in games and as the season progressed.
But he also played well at times, opening eyes to the fact he is perhaps more than an attractive shell.

“He fought his (rear) off,” Oben said. “He definitely got better.”

A veteran of five NFL seasons before signing with the Chargers in 2004, Jordan's first extended starting experience was last season.

He was drafted in the third round in 2000 to play guard and spent his first three seasons in Carolina as a guard, making five starts in 2001. He was waived by the Panthers in 2002 and signed with Jacksonville, where he was moved to right tackle but never started.

He arrived in San Diego and little happened immediately to change the perception that he was 6 feet, 4 inches and 320 pounds of unrealized potential.

“He's a freaky specimen,” Hardwick said. “He's strong, he's fast, he's got real good feet.”

It seemed he lacked the mix of aggressiveness and finesse that make a fine offensive lineman and even the toughness necessary to survive day in and day out in the trenches.

But by starting nine games (he filled in for Shane Olivea at right tackle in week six), shaking off the injuries that are inevitable when playing the line and showing how badly he wanted to get better, something changed.

“I think he's definitely taken more of a serious approach,” Oben said. “When you change the approach, that's the first step.”

Jordan's perspective is a little different.

“When you actually play, you're hungry for that next play,” he said. “I don't think I've worked harder than what I usually do. I work hard all the time. I try to, anyway. Just gaining that experience sharpened some things up for me. So now when I do it in the offseason it's happening a little different for me.”

Jordan could be seen after yesterday's first full-squad workout taking an extra 10 minutes with assistant line coach Hal Hunter, working on his protection technique. He knows he needs to improve that part of his game.

“I can't predict the future,” he said. “I can predict I am going to work my (rear) off for this team.”

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