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Chargers Camp Preview

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Blue Bolt, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

    Oct 28, 2009
    Camp preview: New-look Chargers keep continuity
    Written by
    Michael Gehlken

    The Chargers, for all the movement they've made in free agency, for every veteran and rookie added, say they've still preserved a quality they desired back in January when this offseason began.


    Time to see where it leads them.

    Training camp has, at last, arrived. Rookies report to the team hotel today and begin practice Monday. Veterans report Wednesday with the first full-squad session on Thursday.

    It's been a busy few months.

    On the 90-man roster, there are 34 players with four or more years of NFL experience. Of them, 20 have either been signed or re-signed since March. Fifteen come from different teams.

    The roster turnover is “not as dramatic as people think,” coach Norv Turner said following minicamp, pointing to the core returners.

    “We have more depth. We have more playmakers,” Turner said. “But there's still great continuity.”
    And plenty that'll develop over the next several weeks.

    Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has said it takes time to build rapport with new receivers.
    He'll have that now.

    Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal are part of a new-look wide receiver corps that'll attempt to replace the production lost with Vincent Jackson's free-agency departure.

    It's the “Breaking Bad” of the San Diego roster — all about chemistry.

    The presence of seventh-year veteran Malcom Floyd is helping build it. He and Vincent Brown join Meachem and Royal as roster locks.

    It remains unclear just how many other wide receiver spots will be up for grabs, but the competition will be heated and heavily influenced by what occurs on special teams.

    Micheal Spurlock and Richard Goodman are among those in contention with veteran Roscoe Parrish and five undrafted rookies also in the mix.

    The Chargers are deepest at the tight end position.

    Kory Sperry and Brad Taylor will attempt to push into the fold for the 53-man roster. Antonio Gates, Randy McMichael, Dante Rosario and rookie Ladarius Green enter as the pre-camp favorites.

    At offensive line, the projected starters, from left to right, are tackle Jared Gaither, guard Tyronne Green, center Nick Hardwick, guard Louis Vasquez and tackle Jeromey Clary.

    It'd be the same group the team had at the conclusion of last season.

    If there's one reserve who can break through into the Week 1 lineup, it's likely Rex Hadnot.

    The 30-year-old has started 93 of 113 career games, including all 16 last season at right guard with the Cardinals.

    “He'll compete with Tyronne for a starting position,” said Hal Hunter, Chargers offensive coordinator and line coach. “We'll see who ends up being the better player by the end of preseason.
    They both know they're competing. They both got good attitudes. (Hadnot) is a good veteran player that's still got some tread left on his tire, and I'm glad to have him.”

    Two young centers will vie to be Hardwick's backup. Colin Baxter, 24, and rookie David Molk, 23, have split second-string reps.

    Running back Ryan Mathews needs only to maintain the momentum he's built from what's been a strong several months. Behind him, starting fullback Le'Ron McClain and running back Ronnie Brown are the favorites to see complementary touches.

    Jacob Hester, reserve fullback and special teams captain, is also slated to make the roster. One, or possibly two running backs — if one stands out on special teams — should follow suit.

    That'll be decided between Curtis Brinkley, Jackie Battle, and rookies Edwin Baker and Michael Hayes.

    Charlie Whitehurst and Jarret Lee, an undrafted rookie from LSU, join Rivers as the lone quarterbacks in camp.

    Lee showed potential during the early going of the offseason, but the preseason games will be most revealing.

    The Chargers want a dominant defense.

    In training camp, the continued development of their young players would go a long way.

    The team has seen the progress from defensive ends Corey Liuget, 22, and Vaughn Martin, 26, for which it hoped. With rookie Kendall Reyes backing up Martin on the left and nose tackle Antonio Garay versatile enough to bounce to the right, Jacques Cesaire enters camp on the roster bubble.

    Tenth-year nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin shouldn't take long to catch up after agreeing Friday to a one-year contract. He'll help fortify the Chargers' interior run defense, complementing the athleticism of Cam Thomas and Garay.

    Donald Butler, another year removed from his 2010 torn Achilles', drew rave reviews from Turner during the team's nine-week offseason workout program. Demorrio Williams is his backup on the weak side.

    Butler and Takeo Spikes will likely start at inside linebacker, but the team is working to better moderate Spikes' snap count — 947 last year, second most on the defense. The development of Jonas Mouton, out in 2011 as a rookie with a shoulder injury, will play a key role.

    Outside linebackers can make-or-break a 3-4 defense.

    The Chargers' group was upgraded with the personnel additions of Jarret Johnson and Melvin Ingram. Larry English is also back to health after being played by foot injuries the past two seasons.

    Ingram will work mostly at outside linebacker, but they plan to move him around, even matching him up inside against guards out of the 3-technique. The 6-foot-2, 265-pounder said he's ready to take on larger blockers.

    “It's all football,” Ingram said. “They put on their cleats the same way I do. They bleed the same way I do.”

    More pressure up front would, naturally, benefit the secondary.

    Cornerback Marcus Gilchrist will likely be the team's nickelback, as Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason return to start. Shareece Wright and what's viewed as an athletic group of undrafted rookies round out the position.

    Eric Weddle, 27, took another step forward in his development this offseason, Turner said. The first-team All-Pro safety set career highs in interceptions (7) and deflections (12) last year.

    Darrell Stuckey has seen action with second-string unit at free safety, which is also where Corey Lynch started three games in Tampa Bay last year.

    Atari Bigby, speaking of continuity, is one of just two new projected starters for the defense; Johnson is the other. Rookie Brandon Taylor will develop behind him.

    Special teams
    Nick Novak has put in the work to compete for the Chargers' kicker spot.

    Unseating Nate Kaeding in camp, however, is expected to be a tall task if the two-time Pro Bowler proves healthy from last year's season-ending knee injury. The decision will be likely made after the final preseason game.

    Less drama surrounds punter Mike Scifres and long snapper Mike Windt, who are entrenched.
    Royal is expected to field most punts this season, although he likely won't be asked to do it alone.

    The competition at kick returner will be stiff. Goodman, the incumbent, averaged 31 yards per kick return over the season's final eight games, best in the NFL. Spurlock and Parrish are among the others in the mix.
  2. Joy Division

    Joy Division Slightly-known Member

    Jun 30, 2008
    This is getting old. Can't wait for some preseason.

    Oh and, "Larry English is also back to health after being played by foot injuries the past two seasons."

    "played"? really?
  3. rickochey

    rickochey BoltTalker

    Nov 13, 2011
    AJ either drafts injured players or drafts injury prone players.

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