English's exit a sign Freeney is healthy

Outside linebacker was one of the deepest position groups on the San Diego Chargers' roster heading into the opening of training camp on Thursday.

Still, the team releasing former first round draft pick Larry English was somewhat of a surprise. San Diego struggled with depth at outside linebacker last season, with Dwight Freeney, Melvin Ingram, Jarret Johnson and English all missing time because of injuries.

But those injuries to veteran players provided an opportunity for younger guys like Thomas Keiser and Tourek Williams to develop. And both made an impact for San Diego’s defense in 2013.

The most important takeaway from English’s release is that the Chargers appear confident Freeney will return to the field healthy after suffering a torn quad in Week 4 of last season against Dallas, ending his 2013 campaign.

Freeney was limited during offseason workouts, but vowed to be ready for San Diego’s regular-season opener at Arizona on Sept. 8. Freeney, 34, is the only player on San Diego’s roster who has recorded double-digit sacks in the NFL, so his presence as a pass-rush specialist is important to take pressure off of young players like Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attochu.

Also, English’s departure is a sign the Chargers like what they have seen in developmental prospects like Cordarro Law, Keiser, Williams and undrafted rookie free agent Colton Underwood.

Johnson said Williams looked impressive during offseason workouts.

“Tourek is the one that’s been pretty interesting to me, how much he’s gained in the offseason,” Johnson said. “Just how much more mature he is; he’s the one I think is going to have a huge year.”

Lastly, English’s release provides some breathing room in terms of the salary cap for the Chargers. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers are just $94,768 under the cap. By releasing English, San Diego saves $1,542,500 million in 2014 cap space and cash.