by Marty Caswell
Chris Watt flew to sunny San Diego from Chicago several weeks before the start of off-season workouts.
For Watt, it is whole new season to prepare for and a new position that comes with an elevated expectation of leadership. A career guard at Notre Dame, Watt became one of five different centers to start for the Chargers last season when he filled in for the injured Rich Ohrnberger on November 16th versus the St. Louis Rams.
Last month at the NFL meetings, the normally coy Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco made it rather clear that Watt was the Chargers center of the future.
“I think he’s going to have a bright future at center,” said Telesco. “He has all the intangibles you look for in a center.”
“He’ll be playing center, he’ll be the center to take over and you’ll see his leadership ability,” said McCoy.
Watch Mike McCoy discuss Philip Rivers, Chris Watt and the Chargers core here
Replacing the leadership that Nick Hardwick brought to the Chargers huddle and in the locker room is one thing. Becoming a vocal leader in Watt’s second year in the league is another.
“Being the center puts you in a leadership role right away,” said Watt. “Being able to be a leader in that offensive line room, I know I’m a young guy but starting to display those qualities, to display those leadership qualities that I have, being able to do that this off-season and into training camp is important.”
“When you’re in that center role, you have to be vocal, it challenges you each and every day to be more vocal, which is a good thing for me. It was a great thing for me last year, continuing to learn to be vocal out there and I think I got really good at it the end of the season.”
The Chargers biggest free agent signing of the off-season, literally and figuratively was left tackle King Dunlap and he’s impressed by what he’s seen from Watt.
“Chris works really, really hard, he wants to be great at what he does and he watches a lot of film,” said Dunlap. “Even when he was at guard, he was always talking to Nick (Hardwick), watching a lot of film, always talking to Philip and Kellen, the quarterbacks. The works he puts in, he puts in as much work if not more than a lot of quarterbacks do. And that’s one thing I think why he won’t have a problem going to center at all, because the work he puts in the film room, in the meeting room with the coaches and with the quarterbacks that’s one thing that’s going to help him be successful at center.”
The elephant in the room continues to center around the future of Philip Rivers but Watt says he’s going about his everyday routine pretty much the way you’d expect.
“He’s an amazing leader. Great guy off the field, competitive as hell and wants to win so badly. Which is awesome. He’s the guy you want to win for.”
Watt smiled when asked what he sees when he looks to his left, where the Chargers to this point, have made their biggest upgrades in the young off-season.
“The biggest left side in the NFL which is awesome. 6’7 (Orlando Franklin) and 6’9 (King Dunlap) that’s pretty impressive. We’re going to move some people this year.”