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Anteater's Chargers Camp Battles

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jul 14, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    <img width="342" height="266" alt="Chargers practicing under the lights" title="Chargers practicing under the lights" src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/training-camp/UTI0784421_1.jpg" />

    By Loren Casuto

    We are coming up on training camp and as we all know, training camp includes battles at a number of spots for the starting job. With rookies reporting to camp in under two weeks, its time to break down some of the battles and my predictions as to who will win.

    #2 Quarterback
    AJ Feeley vs Charlie Whitehurst

    On the surface this should not be a competition. AJ Feeley is an experienced back-up while Whitehurst is a rookie who played in a shotgun offense at Clemson. What made this a battle was mini camp; Feeley played atrociously while Whitehurst was outstanding. Feeley's record has been abysmal since filling in for Donovan McNabb in 2003; he has a losing record as a starter, a rating of 67.3 and threw more interceptions then touchdowns in a year with the Dolphins. On top of which he was throwing off target regularly at mini-camp. Whitehurst played with minimal talent around him at Clemson and had a tendency try to make too much happen and thereby make bad decisions. At mini-camp, with one of the most potent offenses in the NFL around him, Whitehurst put the ball where it was supposed to be and made correct checkdown throws. Because of such, Whitehurst went from a guarenteed #3 to a possible #2. And if Whitehurst becomes the #2 that would mean Brent Elliot, the UDFA quarterback from Linfield that has the coaching staff talking.

    Out of the gate: Feeley is losing ground to Whitehurst.
    AC's prediction: Feeley will not be the #2, but Whitehurst won't be it either. Look for the Chargers to go onto the waiver wire and pick up a #2 quarterback. Whitehurst will be the #3 and Elliot will be on the practice squad.

    Slot & 4th Receiver
    Vincent Jackson vs Kassim Osgood vs Rashaun Woods vs Malcolm Floyd

    After McCardell and Parker, who are locked in at #1 & #2, the rest of the WR positions are up for grabs. Vincent Jackson has the early lead and looked good in very limited action in 2005. He's got good speed for his size and can present match-up issues for any nickel back. There are questions still whether he has made the adjustment to the NFL from Northern Colorado and he has to stay healthy. Kassim Osgood signed a six-year deal with the Chargers after expressing his desire to play more on the offense. He has outstanding height but is not fast at all and has only played as the #4 receiver over the last three years. His heart, desire and drive can not be questioned but the limits of his talent are. Rashaun Woods was acquired from the 49ers for Sammy Davis and is a long term project. It is well known AJ Smith had his eye on drafting Woods in the second round in 2004 but after spending two years floundering and injured in San Francisco he needs to redouble his training. Malcolm Floyd has been on and off the team for nearly four years. His size and hands make him an incredible weapon and he has improved everywhere in three years, but where could you fit him on this depth chart?

    Out of the gate: Osgood and Floyd are riding momentum from dominating mini camp performances; Woods and Jackson are slow in the beginning.
    AC's Prediction: Management wants to see what Jackson can do so baring a real bad performance or injuries he'll be the slot receiver. Osgood will have a great camp, will be the #4 and will be heavily interchanged with Jackson. Woods will make the roster but will be inactive most of the year as he trains with McCardell. Floyd will be released and make it with another team.

    Left Tackle*
    Leander Jordan vs Marcus McNeil

    This battle comes with an *: if Roman Oben can play this battle is suspended. That is the preferred result to this battle but with Oben still in a walking boot, this battle is on. Leander Jordan has slimmed down and gained agility but carries the weight of past failures from last year on his shoulders. Plenty of people remember Brees getting sacked regularly from his blind-side, usually at inopportune times, and the blame fell on Leander Jordan. Marcus McNeil is the Chargers future left tackle, he has the talent, record and speed (especially to hit linebackers against a 3-4 defense) to succeed and is being trained by Jack Henry, one of the best OL coaches in the league. The question is whether the future tackle can play well enough now; a rookie left tackle is a dangerous proposition to a first year starting quarterback.
    Out of gate: They're both out slow
    AC's Prediction: The Chargers will astonish pundits with a rookie left tackle protecting a ‘rookie' quarterback and both will do well.

    Right Cornerback
    Drayton Florence vs Antonio Cromartie

    The second most publicized battle in training camp; and it is not really a battle at all. While Cromartie is a first round draft pick with all the talent in the world, he is the rawest of the cornerbacks drafted in the first day. Cromartie has one start and has appeared in twenty games; you would have to be foolish or desperate to put a guy like that into the starting lineup in a division with Randy Moss, Rod Smart, Javon Walker and Jerry Porter. At mini camp this was proven on the first WR/CB drill as Osgood juked Cromartie out of his shoes. As camp continued Cromartie got better but its very evident he needs time to train and learn. Drayton Florence spent part of last year injured and did not live up to expectations, but is still very talented and has good ball hawking ability. Many Charger fans still think he's a better cornerback then Quentin Jammer; and if he continues to improve and advance his game, Drayton Florence could be the #1 cornerback.
    Out of the gate: Florence is out quickly with Cromartie coming along slowly
    AC's prediction: Outside of injury Florence will be the RCB with Cromartie at nickel.

    Strong Safety
    Bwahoh Jue vs Clinton Hart vs Terrance Kiel

    This is the real battle of training camp. Free agent acquisition Marlon Mcree will man the FS position with Hannik Milligan backing him up. Bwahoh Jue played acceptably in limited time at free safety, leading the team in interceptions but was out of position often (something that can be attributed to his first year in the system) and lacked the speed to provide over the top support. Terrance Kiel took a big step backwards last year as he was out of place and could not cover. Kiel is a pure SS that he loves to be in the box and thump the running back. He did well in 2004 but 2005 was such a big step back that he was being replaced by Clinton Hart. Hart bounced between free and strong safety but can be summed up in one word; Playmaker. He's always around the ball and is the right position to make big plays (especially ones that lead to a touchdown). Hart is good at coverage and good at run support but does not excel in any one area; he's a hybrid safety like Mcree.
    Out of the gate: Hart is out to a big lead with Jue and Kiel slow at the start
    AC's prediction: Hart will start and make an impact in the lineup. Jue will back up both Mcree and Hart and will be an important role player. Kiel will be benched and gone in a trade to a team that needs an ‘in the box thumper' like San Francisco.

    Let's also look at players who can make a big impact in training camp this year

    1. Scott Mrzucowski
    The offensive line's jack of all trades has been practicing at center, guard and right tackle and will get lots of snaps in camp at all of them with the first team. The 2005 7th round pick has really opened eyes with his power and his work ethic; he's taken over as the primary backup at center and guard and could push Mike Goff for playing time at right guard.
    2. Rashaun Woods
    They say a change of scenery makes all the difference in a struggling players' life. Woods would be the ultimate example. After floundering in San Francisco for two years he's looking to rebound and rebuild his career. He's a similar receiver to Keenan McCardell; Woods will even be mentored by McCardell. The talent that made Woods a legend at Oklahoma State is still there, and if it comes out, San Diego might have committed highway robbery against San Francisco.
    3. Carlos Polk
    In 2003 he was the special teams standout for the Chargers; but after two consecutive season ending injuries, the scrappy inside linebacker must prove to the team again that he can be a special teams dynamo on a team with two. Its do or die for the six year veteran.
    4. Ryon Bingham
    A 7th round pick in 2004, Bingham was picked to be Jamal's eventual backup. He's still around after a year on IR and a year on the practice squad, but has not shown the fans much. He has to step it up and show he can be a real backup NT instead of forcing Cesaire and Castillo in at NT.
    5. Brandon Manumaleuna
    I was not happy when AJ Smith traded his fourth round pick to acquire the big Samoan tight-end because Manumaleuna came with baggage. In St. Louis he did not block or run with any drive, went down easily and did not get his head in the game for all of his natural talent. He has opened eyes in practice and though he will be an important blocker, he could fill the same role that Alfred Pupunu did in 1994.

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