Chargers' Cam Thomas could have big role

SAN DIEGO -- Of all of the fifth-round picks taken in the April draft, perhaps none have a better chance to make an immediate impact than San Diego defensive tackle Cam Thomas.

If he’s up to the task, San Diego has big plans for Thomas. The Chargers are looking for a replacement for Jamal Williams, who is now in Denver. The Chargers got by with solid efforts by several players last year when Williams missed all but one game.

However, the team would love to plug in an anchor to the 3-4 defense, a role Williams filled brilliantly in San Diego for several years. The Chargers think Thomas is the player for the job. Thomas is 6-foot-4, 335 pounds and is a massive run stuffer.

San Diego coach Norv Turner knows it’s early, but he liked the way Thomas has responded to practicing in pads the past two days.

"He’s really pushed some people backwards," Turner said of the rookie.

If Thomas does end up playing a major role, he’ll be a huge steal. The Chargers were studying Thomas throughout the draft but addressed other areas with their first three picks. When he was still available in the fifth round -- many people around the league thought Thomas would go as early as the second round -- the Chargers traded up to get him.

Turner speculates that Thomas may have dropped because some teams may have questioned his effort because he is a big player who was on the field often.

"Maybe that’s what people thought, but effort has not been an issue," Turner said. "I’m glad he fell. He’s a good player."