SAN DIEGO -- If you’re looking for a comparison for San Diego Chargers offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, who’s making the transition from right tackle to right guard, former Chargers center Nick Hardwick has a name for you.
San Diego’s former longtime center has made the transition from the football field to the broadcast booth, working as a sideline guy for the Chargers’ flagship radio station, along with doing interviews for the team’s web site.
Selected No. 2 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2001 draft, Davis played right guard and right tackle his first three seasons in the league.
In 2004, Dennis Green took over the head coaching job for Cardinals, moving Davis to left tackle, where he played for three seasons.
Davis became an unrestricted free agent in 2007, signing a lucrative contract with the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. The Cowboys moved him to right guard, where he earned Pro Bowl honors three times at his position and starting 64 straight games.
At 6-6 and 355 pounds, Hardwick sees similarities between Davis and the mammoth Fluker.
“I liken him to Leonard Davis when he came from Arizona to Dallas,” Hardwick said. “He [Davis] was just a mountain to walk around. Nobody could beat him because he was so wide, his arms are so long, and then he’s heavy. You can’t knock him back, you can’t go around him so what do you do?”
Hardwick explained the differences between playing right tackle and right guard.
“The right guard, in particular, is a tough one,” Hardwick said. “With a right-handed quarterback, a lot of your play-action passes, you fake play-action to the right, so it’s easier because he’s already in position. So you slide [pass block] away, which leaves the right guard blocking the 3-tech one-on-on with no help.”
The 3-tech defensive tackle is usually the best interior pass rusher on the defense. Hardwick also talked about the game speeding up inside than at right tackle.
“Everything happens much quicker,” he said. “Contact happens much faster. You don’t have near as much time to get that very important second step on the ground. And the second step is everything, because that’s where your power is delivered off of. So your feet have to be pretty quick inside to deliver a blow.”
Hardwick said Fluker has done a nice job making the transition from tackle to guard.
“He’s doing well,” Hardwick said. “And he’s only going to get better. The more reps he gets, the better he’s going to get.”
So is Fluker better at guard or tackle? Hardwick provided a coy response.
“Well, we will find out,” Hardwick said, smiling. “We’re going to have to see. But he’s got a lot to build on, which is great.”
Hardwick also believes that over time, San Diego’s offensive line will wear people down during a course of a game.
“You might not see them busting big runs out of the gate,” Hardwick said. “But in the third and fourth quarter, if they can stick to the run, this group can really lean on some bodies.
“I think you’ve got a different type of group this year. Where before it was more cerebral, this is a ground-and-pound unit -- these are guys that can get after you and beat the dog out of you over four quarters. They’ve got the size. They’ve got the strength, it should be a fun group to watch as they develop their personality.”