Two months after free agency officially opened, Damion Square finally found a destination Monday.
Turns out, he isn’t going anywhere.The veteran defensive lineman re-signed with the Chargers for one year.
“Excited to be back home,” Square said. “Excited to be back in that locker room with my guys. To come back with these guys and be a leader for this group and continue on with some of the things we did last year … big time.”
Square, 30, appeared in all 16 regular-season games in 2018 and made a career-high 11 starts. He played both nose tackle and end as the Chargers benefited from his versatility.
Edge rusher Joey Bosa missed the first half of the season because of a foot injury and tackle Brandon Mebane was away from the team for stretches as his infant daughter lost her battle with a rare chromosome disorder.
Square’s ability to play inside and outside along the defensive front helped the Chargers particularly during those times. He finished with 31 tackles and three sacks.
“The potential here,” Square said when asked what lured him back to the Chargers. “The vets we’ve added to the group. The guys who’re already in that locker room. Just curiosity of what we can be if all these guys get healthy and get back on the field. I want to be a part of that.”
Square acknowledged there were a few weeks where he thought his time with the Chargers was over.
The team first re-signed Mebane and then drafted defensive tackle Jerry Tillery in the first round out of Notre Dame. In the seventh round last month, the Chargers added another defensive lineman, Cincinnati’s Cortez Broughton.
“But it definitely came back around,” Square said. “Just communicating, laying things out with my family, figuring out what I want with my career. Putting all those things on the table led me right back here.”
He is entering his seventh season in the NFL and fifth full season with the Chargers. Square originally signed as an undrafted free agent with Philadelphia in 2013.
He also spent time with Kansas City before the Chargers claimed him off waivers in November of 2014.
“It’s hard to go be the new kid and try to fit in some places,” Square said. “Sometimes, there’s no space for you … I wanted to come back and claim my space here. That’s what I did.”
Injuries at linebacker forced the Chargers to finish last season with an alignment that frequently employed up to seven defensive backs.
The versatility of a player such as Adrian Phillips proved key, the natural safety also able to handle the responsibilities of a linebacker.
During the Chargers’ voluntary workout Monday, Desmond King, who earned All-Pro recognition last season as a nickel cornerback, played some outside corner.
“It's just something to make myself more valuable, moving around the defense to see where I can help extra and not just at the nickel spot,” King said. “I’m just trying to improve my value.”
King played outside in college at Iowa, where he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. During training camp last summer, he also appeared at free safety.
“We cross train a bunch of these guys because you never know what’s going to happen,” defensive backs coach Ron Milus said. “If there’s an injury, ‘next man up’ could come from another position.”
Pouncey eyes Miami
Entering his second season with the team, center Mike Pouncey was asked Monday if he specifically noticed that during Week 3, the Chargers travel to play at Miami, his former team.
Pouncey answered by noting that the game actually will come during Week 4. So, yeah, he noticed.
“I pay attention to the schedule,” Pouncey said. “That’s going to be a big game for me. I’ll be excited to get back, see all of those guys that I played with throughout my career.”
A native of Florida, Pouncey played high school football in Lakeland and then at the University of Florida before spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Dolphins.
“I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I’m not one of those guys that says I’m not looking forward to it. That’s one of the games that I’m looking forward to.”