OL Chris Watt learning on the run

June, 10, 2014
6/10/14
11:15
AM ET
SAN DIEGO -- Sink or swim.

That’s the motto San Diego Chargers third-round selection Chris Watt is living by during organized team activities (OTAs) with his new team.

The former Notre Dame offensive lineman has been asked to learn two new positions by Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. Watt played left guard his last three years with the Fighting Irish, but is working at right guard and center in San Diego.

[+] EnlargeChris Watt
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesFormer Notre Dame offensive lineman Chris Watt has been working at different positions during OTAs, including at center.
“Obviously when you first get here there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, going from a college offense to an NFL offense,” Watt said. “But I think being able to focus on two positions helps me learn the offense faster.

“It demands me to learn the offense quickly whether I like it or not. And it forces me to improve every day.”

With last year’s starting right guard Jeromey Clary recovering from offseason surgeries on his shoulder and hip, Watt got his first opportunity to work with the starters at right guard during Monday’s OTA practice.

“It’s a little bit of a different speed when it gets to that level, because it’s pretty intense working with the first group,” Watt said. “But I always enjoy going out there and competing.”

Chargers center Nick Hardwick said that Watt kept his head above water.

“We had no communication issues,” Hardwick said. “He seemed comfortable in there. There was no babysitting. He was on his own and he did a great job.”

The Chargers need Watt to pick things up quickly in order to solidify the team’s depth up front on the interior offensive line. Clary’s availability for training camp remains uncertain, so San Diego has just two experienced interior offensive linemen behind Hardwick in Rich Ohrnberger and Johnnie Troutman.

Including the playoffs, the Chargers played seven different starting offensive line combinations last season, so creating depth and versatility up front is important.

“He’s coming along,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said about Watt. “It’s like that for every young player. The installs just keep piling up. So it’s just a matter of getting up to speed with the terminology and playing with different guys.

“In college you get used to playing with guys, and then all of sudden you come here and it’s new guys. And Joe is rotating him all around. He’s playing a little bit of center also. So he’s just moving.”

Probably the biggest adjustment for Watt has been playing center, a position he has not worked at since his freshman year in college. He was projected as a player who could play center at the next level because of his football intelligence and ability to move as a guard. Watt said D’Alessandris taught him a new way to snap the ball that has improved his consistency.

“It’s going well,” Watt said. “Coach D has done a tremendous job of getting me ready. My snapping technique has changed since I’ve got here. Coach D taught me a different technique, and it’s worked really well.”

Eric D. Williams

ESPN San Diego Chargers reporter

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