Martin Eager to Exceed the (Video) Hype

Usually to get a club's attention, it's a player's game tape which raise an interest. But in the case of defensive end Vaughn Martin, he was a hit on YouTube long before the recent draft. And it involved the Chargers, who would ultimately pick Martin with a fourth-round pick.

When Chargers scout Tom Gibbons wanted a closer look at Vaughn Martin, a product of Western Ontario College in Canada, he got an up-close-and-personal look during a private workout. Gibbons was knocked on his backside by Martin, a scene which is a YouTube classic in the minds of NFL watchers.

"He was a good sport about it," the 6-foot-3, 331-pound Martin said. "When I got to San Diego (for a formal visit), coach (Norv) Turner said he was looking for a blocking pad so we could re-enact the whole thing again, but Mr. Gibbons wasn't there."

The clip is titled "Chargers Scout Blown Up," which could be considered more entertaining considering the Chargers burnt the No. 113 pick on him.

Now will Martin be able to pick up the NFL game? He's been playing the slightly different Canadian version but is confident his learning curve won't be steep.

"I've always been a fast learner, so it's not something I'm worried about," he said. "I'm excited about putting theory into action. I'm just a blank canvas, and they'll be able to mold me into the player they want me to be."

Martin is as raw as he is a brute. The Chargers' plan is to work him in gradually and hopefully he can at least add depth in the early stages of what should be an interesting NFL career.

How many other players can say they were born in Jamaica and raised on hockey and soccer in Canada -- plus clobbered an NFL scout?

That said, Chargers general manager A. J. Smith likes Martin's ceiling.

"He's an outstanding athlete with a great upside," Smith said. "He's a big, strong guy with a nice motor and a mean streak. He's got a lot to learn, but it's going to be interesting to see how quick his development grows. He's smart."

The Chargers might have been keen to take a flier on Martin.

The team lost starting end Igor Olshansky -- a former second-round pick -- to free agency. And the next two players on the depth chart -- Ryon Bingham and Jacques Cesaire -- have never been full-time starters.

Expecting Martin to go from playing in Canada to starting for a team looking to contend for a Super Bowl berth is a bit of a stretch. But so was the notion -- at one time -- of a basketball player from Kent State who didn't play football in college becoming a five-time Pro Bowler.

Can you say Antonio Gates?

Can you say welcome to San Diego, Vaughn Martin?

Smith has already noticed a mean streak in Martin which will play well with the likes of Jamal Williams, Kris Dielman and Nick Hardwick.

"It's contagious," Smith said. "You're trying to bring in players that are good and talented, but also have an attitude. If you've got that, it brings a presence."

LB Larry English
N. Illinois Athletics

--The topic was the Chargers' first-round pick and the type of character he possess. It was a keen subject in the days after the draft as yet another Charger -- this time outside linebacker Shaun Phillips -- had another incident with police officers.

Outside linebacker Larry English was a star at Northern Illinois and one of its best citizens, according to those in the know.

And the proof of coming from a family supplying him with plenty of support was on display when he was introduced at a Chargers press conference. English arrived with his own entourage, but it wasn't a bunch of shady dudes hanging around for meal tickets.

Instead it was his mother, father and other relatives tagging along.

"He is as good a person as you are going to want to have on your football team," Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "That part of his makeup is going to help him make our football team, be a productive player on our football team."

But English wasn't drafted with the 16th overall pick because he smiles and helps little old ladies across the street.

The Chargers see another pass-rush demon they can plop alongside Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips as they try every avenue possible to patch up a leaky pass defense.

Dreadful is among the adjectives which fit in describing last year's pass defense, which was ranked next-to-last and among the bigger reasons the Chargers struggled so mightily just to make the playoffs as an 8-8 team.

English could also be looked at for the long-term, with Merriman returning from a serious knee injury and entering the final year of his contract. Plus one never knows when Smith will grow tired of hearing Phillips offering yet another excuse for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The time is right for English, who impressed nearly everyone with his first appearance as a Charger.

"At this point, my biggest goal is to get out there and be a team guy, be a team player," he said.

He'll do so under the watchful eyes of his parents; his mom speculated she has missed but one of English's games as he was growing up. And while there's no way of knowing where English will go -- or how he'll act -- from here, he was raised the right way.

Something he isn't shy about admitting.

"You see them right there," English said, pointing to his family. "They had a lot to do with that."

Now English, who had 31.5 sacks in college, has to do what he does best: pester quarterbacks.

"This is a guy," Smith said, "who can bring the heat."

NOTES, QUOTES

LB Shaun Phillips
Andy Lyons/Getty

--OLB Shaun Phillips was cited for misdemeanor battery after an incident last week at the rooftop bar of the downtown Ivy Hotel, according to a citation made available by the San Diego Police Department. A hotel security guard alleged that he was hit in the face by Phillips.

"It's disappointing to hear about the issue involving Shaun Phillips," Chargers GM A.J. Smith said in a statement. "We'll continue to monitor the situation and let the legal process run its course." Phillips is also listed as a suspect in a battery case that took place on April 11 at another nightclub in San Diego. A club security guard said Phillips punched and choked him that evening, but he didn't report the incident until 6:30 a.m. that morning. There hasn't been a citation or an arrest.

--With it being the fifth anniversary of the 2004 draft which landed QB Philip Rivers -- instead of Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger -- in San Diego, Chargers GM A.J. Smith is still pleased he ended up with Rivers. Even if Manning and Roethlisberger have gone on to win a combined three Super Bowls; Rivers still seeks his first Super Bowl appearance. "I never ranked the quarterbacks, but I felt special things would happen to all three," Smith said. "I never ranked them, but if you look back at how it all unfolded, I think it's pretty clear. ... I will say that Philip Rivers is here, and I'm really happy."

--One of the great things about the draft is seeing a player get the phone call from his new team. Rivers, who was traded to the Chargers by the Giants on draft day, never got a call.

"You watch the draft growing up and you always see the guy getting the phone call right before the selection becomes official, so you feel like you're going to get some prep," Rivers said. "I didn't a call from anyone. Nothing. I found out where I was going when they announced it on television. That part was a little weird, and while I was excited, it was a red flag that told me something was up."

--The Chargers are holding a minicamp, May 1-3, for all their players at Chargers Park. The public will not be admitted.

--Eighteen undrafted free agents were signed by the club: OT Samuel Allen (Grand Valley St.), ILB Darry Beckwith (LSU), RB Curtis Brinkley (Syracuse), WR Greg Carr (Florida State), WR Jeremy Childs (Boise State), OLB Anthony Felder (California), OT Dan Gay (Baylor), OLB James Holt (Kansas), NT Rashaad Jackson (Clemson), WR Charles Martin (West Texas A&M), C Ryan McDonald (Illinois), G Ben Muth (Stanford), CB Wopamo Osaisai (Stanford), FB William Rentmeester (Wisconsin), WR Rodgeriqus Smith (Auburn), TE Kory Sperry (Colorado St.), FS C.J. Spillman (Marshall), TE Jerimiah Wurzbacher (North Dakota State).

--TE Scott Chandler, a fourth-round pick in 2007, and DB DeJuan Tribble, sixth-round pick a year ago, were waived.

QUOTE TO NOTE "We're not really going to know just how well it went until we look back a couple years down the line, but these are some tough, nasty, physical people." -- Chargers GM A.J. Smith on the players he brought in through the draft.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Chargers surprisingly didn't address two of their bigger needs in the draft: inside linebacker and offensive tackle.

But they tipped their hand that those are still needs to be addressed when signing their undrafted free agents.

Darry Beckwith, an inside linebacker from LSU, and tackles Ben Gay of Baylor and Samuel Allen from Grand Valley State will be among the fresh faces showing up at the first minicamp.

In another indicator of a position needing depth -- now and possibly in the future -- the Chargers are brining in four wide receivers from the day-after-the draft haul.

Vincent Jackson is coming off a 1,000-yard season but also had another brush-up with the law last season and is in the last year of his contract. Chris Chambers' contract expires after the season. Craig Davis, a first-round pick in 2007, hasn't done much in his two years in San Diego.

MEDICAL WATCH: OLB Shawne Merriman (knee) could be restricted in the May minicamp as he returns from a serious knee injury.

--DT Jamal Williams (knees) will not work in the minicamp but is expected to be ready for training camp.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: RB Darren Sproles: Tendered at $6.621M (signed April 28).

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--C Jeremy Newberry was a valuable backup when Nick Hardwick was injured early last season, but the Chargers won't re-sign him.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--WR Malcom Floyd (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) has a good connection with QB Philip Rivers and can be a solid red-zone target. Injuries slowed him some down the stretch last year.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--OT Jeromey Clary: ERFA; $460,000/1 yr.
--OG Kynan Forney: Potential UFA; $4.8M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--CB Cletis Gordon: RFA; $1.545M/1 yr.
--RB Darren Sproles: Franchise FA; $6.621M/1 yr.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--LB Kevin Burnett: UFA Cowboys; $5.5M/2 yrs, $2M SB.

PLAYERS LOST

--RB Eldra Buckley (released).
--OG Mike Goff: UFA Chargers; $3.5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--LB Marques Harris: UFA 49ers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Igor Olshansky: UFA Cowboys; $18M/4 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
--LB Anthony Waters (released).

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