Chargers rookie Jerry Tillery learns lesson in inactivity
Anthony Lynn said Jerry Tillery understood the coach’s decision Sunday to not have the Chargers rookie defensive tackle active for the game against Jacksonville.
He understood it, Lynn explained, but didn’t like it.
On Wednesday, Tillery confirmed that story.
“We had a conversation,” Tillery said. “He told me how he felt and I told him how I felt, and that was it. That was the end of it.”
A first-round choice in April, Tillery had appeared in all 12 games — including three starts — before Sunday.
Chargers tight end Hunter Henry has 43 catches for 536 yards and four scores this season, a bit underwhelming for the fourth-year pro who has huge potential.
But against the Jaguars, Lynn opted to have veteran Sylvester Williams active over Tillery because Williams is 30 pounds heavier and better equipped to stop the run.
The Chargers signed Williams as a free agent in October. He has appeared in five games and played 12 defensive snaps Sunday.
Tillery has struggled being productive in his first NFL season. He has 12 tackles and 1½ sacks, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley recently noting Tillery’s troubles dealing with double-teams.
After starter Justin Jones, the Chargers are more comfortable right now with Williams and versatile veteran Damion Square in their defensive tackle rotation. Lynn said he would decide later in the week whether Tillery will be on the active roster Sunday against Minnesota.
Tillery said being inactive was discouraging but said he feels good about the progress he’s made this season.
Michael Brockers, who turns 29 on Dec. 21, is the longest-tenured Rams defensive player but is on the last year of his contract. Where will he be next season?
“I want to play,” he said. “That’s it. At the end of the day, I wasn’t out there. They made me inactive. That’s how it went.”
Nose tackle Brandon Mebane, in his 13th NFL season, said Tillery has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of doing. He said the issue for the rookie is consistency and continuing to adjust to the physicality of the NFL.
“It’s not like a ‘diss,’ but sometimes, no matter what round a guy went in, sometimes they need like a red-shirt year,” Mebane said. “It’s just like college. Some guys need a red-shirt and some guys don’t.
“It’s not like he can’t play. We’ve all seen flashes where he can do it. He’s got the whole offseason coming up. He’s got good coaches here. He’s in a good place to develop and be a great player. That’s a plus to me.”
After he was taken with the No. 28 pick overall, Tillery’s involvement in the offseason program and training camp was limited because he was recovering from shoulder surgery.
Lynn said middle linebacker Denzel Perryman will return to the starting lineup Sunday against the run-oriented Vikings. He missed the game in Jacksonville after being sent home by Lynn for unspecified reasons.
Perryman is considered to be one of the Chargers’ top run-stoppers. Minnesota ranks fourth in the league with a per-game average of 135.8 yards rushing. The Vikings’ 14th-ranked passing game relies heavily on play action.
Rookie Drue Tranquill has started the previous three games in which he has played and been one of the most productive Chargers on defense. He has 29 tackles, including three for loss, over those three games.
Tranquill, who sat out the Week 11 contest against Kansas City because of a calf problem, will continue to be in the linebacker rotation.
Austin Ekeler’s double-triple Sunday — 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game — was the 35th instance of an NFL player reaching the dual milestones during the regular season. He joined Lionel James as the only Chargers on the list. James did it at Cincinnati in September of 1985.
Thomas Davis served as the Chargers’ unofficial offensive coordinator — at least for one play — during the team’s blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Walter Payton, Brian Westbrook and Priest Holmes are the only players to do it twice.
Only one player has achieved both marks in a single postseason game and that player also was a Charger. Keith Lincoln rushed 13 times for 206 yards and caught seven passes for 123 yards in the 1963 AFL championship game at Balboa Stadium.
The San Diego Chargers defeated the Boston Patriots that day 51-10. Lincoln died in July at age 80.
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