The top-ranked San Diego Chargers defense will play the next month without starting right end Igor Olshansky after the third-year veteran underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage Wednesday morning.
It marks the second knee injury of this season for Olshansky, who suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in the opener, and missed one game. The latest injury occurred last Sunday in a victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
"The hard part is that [Olshansky] has really made very good strides this year in terms of his development," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "But we feel comfortable [with] Jacques Cesaire in there. Fortunately, it is an area where we have some depth."
Highly regarded backup Cesaire, who filled in for Olshansky in the second game of this season and who started 17 contests in 2004-2005, moves into the lineup. Cesaire doesn't possess Olshansky's bulk, but he is a quicker defender and has been productive in the past when afforded a chance to start. In fact, Cesaire has more tackles this year (seven) than does Olshansky (six).
That said, the loss of Olshansky is a tough one for the Chargers, because he is such a good fit in the team's 3-4 front. The former University of Oregon standout, a native of the Ukraine, is a powerful lineman, blessed with great natural strength, and a terrific anchor against the run.
Olshanksy, 24, is an end who will never register big, individual numbers, but who occupies blockers, gets good upfield push, and allows the San Diego linebackers to run to the ball. A second-round choice in the 2004 draft, Olshansky has appeared in 34 games and started 32 of them. He has 74 tackles and 4½ sacks.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.