Pro Bowl C Hardwick to return in 2012

The Chargers unsettled offensive line might have got a boost when Pro Bowl C Nick Hardwick announced he’s going to play in 2012 after considering retirement after eight NFL seasons.

“I am going to play next season,” Hardwick said. “I took two weeks off and have been training like an animal since then.”

Whether that season comes in San Diego will be determined as Hardwick is a pending free agent. Having Hardwick return would lessen the stress along the front line as Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman has yet to make up his mind about playing next year. And left tackle Marcus McNeill, while saying he will play, is doing so with the hopes his neck issues are behind him. But at least the Chargers know Hardwick will be available for the right price.

“I’m preparing to, and expect to, have my best season yet,” said Hardwick, one of two Chargers’ offensive linemen to start every game last year. “We are going to find out how good I can be as a player, a teammate and a leader.”

Ashley Harris, the wife of Chargers defensive tackle Tommie Harris, died Feb. 12 in Oklahoma after suffering a stroke or a brain aneurysm, according to the Chargers.

“The Chargers family is saddened by the sudden loss of one of our very young members,” the team said in a statement. “Tommie Harris’ wife Ashley was just 29 and leaves behind a loving husband and two young children. Our prayers are with the Harris family during this most difficult time.” The couple’s second child was born less than six months ago. Harris had three sacks last year for the Chargers in 13 games.

Quarterback Philip Rivers took part in a conference call with some of the team’s season-ticket holders and his message was to stay patient: “I wish we would’ve done it this year and the last year and in ’06 when we were 14-2,” he said. “We haven’t done it yet, but you’ve got to keep plugging along, because when we get there it’s going to be just as special and we won’t have any more what-ifs.”

Byron Storer was added to the coaching staff as a special-teams assistant to Rich Bisaccia. Storer, like Bisaccia, comes from Tampa Bay, where he spent two seasons as the Buccaneers’ assistant special teams coach and three seasons as a fullback and special teams standout. Storer played and coached under Bisaccia in Tampa Bay.

“This is an exciting time.” – Pro Bowl C Nick Hardwick after coming to the conclusion he wants to continue his NFL career.