Addition of Mike Pouncey gives Chargers makings of elite offensive line

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers added some nastiness to the offensive line with the signing of center Mike Pouncey on Monday.

Coach Anthony Lynn is hopeful the addition of Pouncey to a group that played pretty well last season can make his offensive line one of the best in the NFL.

Heading into offseason work in April, the Chargers have a projected offensive line of Russell Okung at left tackle, Dan Feeney at left guard, Pouncey at center, Forrest Lamp at right guard and Joe Barksdale at right tackle.

"I feel like he upgrades us on the offensive line," Lynn said. "He's going to be good with those two, young guards that we have to the left and to the right of him. He's a good player. He's had some health issues, but I like how he's dealt with those.

"You probably can count on 10 fingers how many starters (at center) played all 16 games last year. So I feel good about his durability and production. And his intangibles are very good."

Former Pro Bowler Nick Hardwick held down the center position for more than a decade for the Chargers before he retired in 2014. Since then, the Chargers have had seven different players start a game at center, so Pouncey should provide some stability and leadership up front, anchoring the offensive line.

"I like his edge," Hardwick said. "I like the intensity that he brings. He's an instigator on the field, and I would imagine he's an instigator in practice. I've never seen him practice, but you don't just show up on game day and have that attitude about you. That's a practiced, learned habit as any other technique.

"So he's going to stir it up in games and in practice, and the competitive nature that he brings to our offensive line is contagious."

The Chargers had one of the best pass-blocking line in 2017, giving up a league-low 18 sacks. However, the Bolts struggled to get a consistent push in the running game, averaging 3.81 yards per rush, No. 26 in the NFL.

Pouncey should help improve that number.

"If you've got a center with that type of nastiness and you've got a left guard in Dan Feeney with that," Hardwick said. "And then carry that over to left tackle with Russell, you've got a pretty powerful unit right there.

"And then you carry that over to the right side of the line with Forrest, who looks like a very physically imposing guy with explosive qualities in his frame and how he's assembled, they have the makings of a special unit."

Quarterback Philip Rivers should also benefit from having a three-time Pro Bowler at center, making his life easier on game days.

"He’s a guy that's very good in the run game and passing game," Lynn said about Pouncey. "And I think with him and Phillip working together, as far as picking things up and checking in and out of the right plays, I think it's going to be really good. I think it can even take some pressure off Philip, where it can free him up to do some other things."

Hardwick expects Rivers to welcome Pouncey with open arms.

"Phil gets along with everybody," Hardwick said. "It will be instantaneous. Phil's the kind of guy that when you come into the locker room, you feel like you've known him for years. He just puts you right at ease. He's got such a grace about him, that he's good with you no matter where you're from.

"I've seen him interact with every different type of player, and I don't expect that to be different from a guy he's taking snaps from."