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Roster Struggles; Receiving Corps

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <img class="alignright" title="Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers" src="http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/02fCgRW2KZapi/610x.jpg" alt="" width="251" height="213" />Training camp has just begun but already there are players striving to catch the coached eyes and prove to management that they deserve to avoid the dreaded Turk.

    One such area is the Chargers receiving corps. This unit is probably the one with the most competition, and where possibly the most movement will occur. We have disgruntled players, players coming off injuries, players striving to prove they still belong and player who don't want to be just another backup.

    The Chargers receiving corps has gone though quite a change in recent years. It used to be that they were arguably one of the weakest links on the Chargers roster. Now it can be said that other teams have to respect if not fear the wide outs and tight ends who wear the lightning bolts. They have proven to be play makers, be it gaining yards after the catch (YAC), or going up high to catch the ball. They have proven that the days of being able to lackadaisically cover the Chargers pass catchers are gone.

    Last season the Chargers carried 6 wide receivers and 3 tight ends on the roster, while no wide receiver or tight end made it through the season on the practice squad. Currently the Chargers have 11 wide receivers in camp and 4 tight ends. That could mean up to 6 players receive a call from the Turk, or get traded.

    There is room for movement here. The emergence of the young receivers as well as the acquisition of Chris Chambers could mean that Eric Parker is expendable, or up for trade as suggested in some of the local papers. A public spat between Kassim Osgood and General Manager AJ Smith could prove to be a factor in who stays and who goes.

    That said lets look at how the team pans out as it is now, but lets start with the coaching staff, the men who will be training, directing and evaluating all of these young men as they struggle for the elusive roster spot.

    <strong>Coaching: </strong>
    <strong>Tight Ends:</strong>
    The coaching of the Tight Ends remains the unchanged from last season. Clancy Barone remains the tight ends coach for the second year. By all accounts his first year in the position has to be counted success. Though admittedly, it would be hard not to find success when your star player is arguably the best tight end in the game today, and continues to get better.

    Antonio Gates lead the team, and ranked 2nd amongst NFL tight ends in receiving touchdowns with 9 as well as ranked 4th amongst all NFL tight ends in catches and receiving yards.

    Barone has 22 years of coaching experience under his belt and will possibly have to look to other players beyond Gates at the beginning of the season, should Gates' toe prove not to be full healed.

    <strong>Wide Receivers:</strong>
    The Chargers in a surprise move let veteran wide receiver coach James Lofton go on January 22nd. Coach Lofton was quoted saying "I don't have any idea," when asked why he was fired. "I was stunned. He (Head Coach Turner) just said he was going in a different direction."

    This move left many Charger fans scratching their head. Under Lofton the Chargers receiving corps had gone from laughable to fearsome. Coach Lofton was a Hall of Fame wide receiver, and well respected by fans and other NFL personnel alike.

    However the Chargers may have found the one person to replace Lofton who will be more popular. Like Lofton he is a Hall of Fame receiver, but he earned his HOF while playing for the Chargers.

    The new coach is none other than Charger Great Charlie Joiner. Joiner has been hired to serve as the team's wide receivers coach and is the Chargers' all-time leading receiver. This is Joiner's second stint as a Chargers' Wide Receiver coach, he also served in that capacity from 1987-91.

    "Charlie brings to our staff 21 years of NFL coaching experience, 18 years of Hall of Fame playing experience and, maybe most important, vast experience with our offensive system," Head Coach Norv Turner said of the hiring. "That combination is rare, and we're fortunate that Charlie was available."[3]

    Joiner played a total of 18 seasons in the AFL and NFL with the Houston Oilers (1969-72), Cincinnati Bengals (1972-75) and Chargers (1976-86). He was drafted by Houston in the fourth round of the 1969 NFL Draft as a defensive back and he retired on Jan. 12, 1987 as the NFL's all-time leading receiver with 750 career catches. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Joiner's final career totals included 12,146 yards and 65 TDs. At the time of his retirement, Joiner's 239 career games played were the most-ever by an NFL wide receiver.

    Joiner played 11 seasons in San Diego (1976-86) and finished his career as the team's all-time leader with 586 career catches. A three-time Pro Bowl choice following the 1976, '79 &amp; '80 seasons, Joiner was inducted into the Chargers' Hall of Fame in 1993. His 9,203 receiving yards rank second in team history behind only Lance Alworth and his 47 touchdown catches rank third behind Alworth and Gary Garrison. He was selected as the team's Most Inspirational Player seven times and he was honored by the City of San Diego on "Charlie Joiner Day" in 1984 and '86.

    Immediately after his retirement, Joiner was named the Bolts' wide receivers coach. One of his star pupils during his five seasons as WRs coach (1987-91) was Anthony Miller, who had a breakout 1,252-yard, 10-touchdown season in 1989 and earned Pro Bowl selections following the '89 and '90 seasons.

    In 1992 Joiner was hired as the wide receivers coach for the Buffalo Bills. He would spend eight seasons (1992-2000) in Western New York, working with a pair of the NFL's best receivers in Eric Moulds and Andre Reed. During those eight seasons, the Bills went to the playoffs six times, won two AFC Championships and played in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Moulds had two of the most prolific seasons in Bills history, earning Pro Bowl honors following a team-record 1,368-yard season in 1998 and a 1,326-yard season in 2000. During the '00 campaign, he also set a team record with 94 catches. Reed spent 15 seasons in Buffalo (1985-99), the last seven with Joiner. He is the Bills' all-time leader in receptions (941), yards (13,095) and touchdown catches (86). Reed was selected to three Pro Bowl teams under Joiner's tutelage (1992-94), but did not play in the game following the '93 season due to injury.

    Joiner's most recent coaching stop was with the Kansas City Chiefs, spending seven seasons (2001-07) as their wide receivers coach. In 2007 Joiner oversaw the development of rookie Dwyane Bowe, who was the NFL's leading rookie receiver with 70 catches, 995 yards and five touchdown catches. Bowe averaged an impressive 14.2 yards per catch during his rookie season. Bowe and Davis were college teammates at LSU and fellow first-round draft picks in 2007. Joiner's stable of wide receivers in Kansas City also included veteran Eddie Kennison, another LSU grad who racked up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2004 and '05. (<em>Bio information form Chargers.com</em>)

    That is it for the coaching, now down to the people who will lace them up through the month of August until the dreaded cut down dates arrive.

    <strong>The Roster as it stands now: </strong>
    <strong>Tight Ends</strong>

    <strong>46, John Tereshinski</strong>
    <em>6'4", 204 lbs. Wake Forest, Senior, Undrafted Free Agent 2008</em>
    He was signed by the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He played college football at Wake Forest. Used mainly in the blocking game, he can also play special teams. He is reported to have a constant motor and will do what ever the coaches ask him to. He can play he H position.

    Against Florida State he delivered a crushing blow to free one of his wide receivers running room. He is not afraid to use his body to lay the wood and has a big frame to allow him to do just that. He can catch and was second in receptions for the Deacon's last season.

    Tereshinski could be a special teams monster. He has the speed to get downfield, and the ability to lay a hit on the opposition that will keep the on the turf for a moment or two.

    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjPSb8bM2Bw">John Tereshinski Lays a Block on Florida State</a>

    He may have a shot at surviving the Turk, which is the health of star tight end Antonio Gates. Gates is the key because if Gates is not running by mid July Tershinski's chances of making the Chargers active roster increases exponentially.

    He is the grandson of former NFL player and coach Joe Tereshinski, Sr. and the brother of former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Joe Tereshinski III.

    <strong>85, Antonio Gates</strong>
    <em>6'4", 260 lbs. Kent State, 6 year veteran, Undrafted Free Agent 2003</em>
    When Gates is healthy he may just be the best tight end in the game today. He had another fine season in 2007, recording 75 receptions for 984 yards and nine touchdowns. It is his surgically repaired left big toe that concerns Charger fans everywhere.

    However, on Monday the 21st Gates tested his toe, and proclaimed it to be 60 to 70 percent healed. Gates stated that he felt better than he did a month ago so he is on the road to recovery, but at this time I would still list him as doubtful for starting the opening game.

    In the playoffs against the Titans Gates suffered a torn plantar plate after dislocating his toe in the second quarter of the playoff game. The injury put Gates on the bench for the rest of that game, However he came out to play in the Chargers' next two playoff games although, was not himself during those games.
    Gates waited about our weeks after the season ended before deciding to undergo the surgical procedure on the toe. The recovery time is still unclear, it is believed he would be restricted in training camp and possibly early in the regular season.
    He is still not running and is expected to be limited early in camp, f he is able to participate at all.

    The injury was a contusion to the thick plate that supports the underneath of the joint of the big toe. The plate is supposed to resist hyperextension of the metatarsophalangeal joint.

    It is essentially a very bad case of turf toe. The problem is running and cutting is very difficult with this type of injury. The chance of Gats having a setback will be greatly reduced if the team allows him to recovery slowly.

    If he is unable to go in training camp, look for the Chargers to look long and hard at Chandler as the starting tight end, with Manumaleuna and Tereshinski as a backups, and the latter a special teams player. This will allow the Chargers to let Gates get healthy at his rate and not have to rush things.

    <strong>86, Brandon Manumaleuna</strong>
    <em>6'2", 288 lbs. Arizona, 8 year veteran, 4th round 2001</em>
    Brandon enters his eighth season, spending 6 with the Rams then being traded to the Chargers in 2006. He is regarded as the league's best blocking tight end and, at 288 pounds is almost another offensive lineman when playing with his hand on the ground.

    He comes off of the ball well and has soft hands for receiving the ball. His speed limits his down field production, but in a two tight end set he will more often than not be he blocking back.

    Manumaleuna is a mountain of a tight end and can pick up blocks in the running game extremely well. For such a large receiver he has very soft hands and can get open in the intermediate routes. He is an excellent change up from Gates giving the Chargers a great 1, 2 punch combo at tight end.

    <strong>87, Scott Chandler</strong>
    <em>6'7", 265 lbs. Iowa, 2 year veteran, 4th round 2007</em>
    Chandler is entering his second season with the Chargers. He spent mot of his rookie season learning the offense. Playing behind tight ends such as Gates and Manumalena only helped Chandler learn the position quicker.

    At 6' 7" Chandler is a huge target who should be hard o bring down. He looks to have more playing time early in the season if Gate should prove unable to go. He only played against Detroit in 2007, and was inactive for the rest of the season. He should be entering camp with a chip on his shoulder ready to prove he deserves some playing time.

    <strong>Wide Receivers</strong>

    The Turk has already claimed his first victim. On Wednesday, July 23, 2008 the Chargers released Eric Parker. Parker joined the Chargers in 2002 as an undrafted free agent.

    In six seasons with the Chargers Parker saw action in 62 games including 40 starts. During those games he caught 187 passes for 2,586 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    <strong>3, Thomas Marco</strong>
    <em>6'1", 175 lbs. Iowa, 2 year veteran, Undrafted Free Agent 2007</em>
    Marco has been on the practice rosters of the Giants, Raiders, and Jets. This spot could simply be that of camp fodder.

    <strong>11, Legedu Naanee</strong>
    <em>6'2", 226 lbs. Boise, 2 year veteran, 5th round in 2007</em>
    Naanee saw little action n '07, but he did catch his first two career passes, both during touchdown drive, in Bolts' November 4th game against Minnesota, this included 17-yard catch on third-and-12 play. He had helped continue he scoring drive against Indianapolis on November 11th with a three-yard catch on fourth-and-two play, he later added a nine-yard reception on third-and-two play. He made one of biggest catches of season, setting up game-winning fourth-quarter touchdown in January. 20th AFC Divisional Playoffs at Indianapolis on a 27-yard screen that put the Bolts in scoring position. Naanee finished 2007 finished with eight catches for 69 yards he also participated on special teams, leading unit with three unassisted tackles.

    Naanee's size, strength and versatility will keep him on the roster. He is able to line up at the tight end position and wide out. He has been tossed in as a possible H-Back as well. As log as Naanee continues to improve and add quality depth, he will remain off the Turks radar.

    <strong>12, Gary Banks</strong>
    <em>6'1", 195 lbs. Troy, rookie, Undrafted Free Agent 2008 </em>
    The boy is from Melvin Alabama. He is wearing a number that is usually seen on a Quarterback- This does not bode well for young Mr. Banks.

    In 2007 Banks was all-Sun Belt Conference Second Team: He led the Trojans, and was tied for fourth in the league, in receptions with 61 and also led the team with 698 receiving yards, good for sixth in the league. He also tied for the team lead with three TD receptions. In addition to his pass catching, Banks was also a perfect 4-for-4 passing this year for 62 yards and two touchdowns.

    <strong>15, Billy Pittman</strong>
    <em>5'11", 189 lbs. Texas, rookie, Undrafted Free Agent 2008 </em>
    Pittman is another player who would seem to be amp fodder. However, given AJ Smith's knack for finding diamonds amongst the rocks in Free Agency, nothing can be certain. In college Billy did put together multiple 100 yard games.

    Pittman was a big-play offensive weapon in 2005 and 2006. Injuries and an NCAA suspension for improper benefits resulted in a lack of production in his senior season. Pittman, a two-time honorable mention All-Big 12 selection and former prep QB, has posted four 100-yard receiving games and averages 33.6 yards per TD catch. In fact, Pittman has posted 24 plays of 20 yards or more, including five of more than 60 yards. Overall, he has made a reception in 26 of his 35 career games. Pittman has posted 11 catches for 77 yards.

    <strong>80, Malcom Floyd</strong>
    <em>6'5", 225 lbs. Wyoming, 5th year veteran, Undrafted Free Agent 2004 </em>
    Floyd enters his fifth season the Chargers but has yet to carve out a steady spot in the rotation. In 22 games played, he has 25 receptions for 356 yards and four touchdowns. He is a legitimate threat on deep throws and in the red zone.

    Floyd made a 25-yard catch on 3rd-and-13 play during opening drive of second half in September 23rd game at Green Bay which helped set up 21-yard touchdown catch-and-run by LT. He also helped extend Chargers touchdown drive on opening series of Week 6 game against Oakland with a 16-yard catch on a 3rd down play.

    Floyd is a receiver I would like to see get more paying time. He had a monster game against Cincinnati in 2006 and was one of the factors in the Chargers leaving with a W However he fell off the radar last season and rumors ran rampant about how h was in Coach Turner's Dog House. With the level of talent the Chargers have a wide out, Floyd cannot ha a bad camp. If he does, the Turk may come a calling.

    <strong>81, Kassim Osgood</strong>
    <em>6'5", 220 lbs. San Diego State, 6th year veteran, Undrafted Free Agent 2003 </em> Osgood enters his sixth season and despite posting only two catches last season he is a two-time Pro Bowler. Osgood has become one of the NFL's top special-teams players, which is what he excels at. He had 14 special teams tackles last season and has the rare ability to down the ball inside the 5-yard line. Osgood wants more playing time at Wide Receiver. This was a message sent loud and clear to GM AJ Smith and Head Coach Norv Turner.

    However, the public nature of the request will not buy him anything. The Chargers have cut Pro Bowlers before, and if Osgood doesn't come into camp ready t fight for hi position, they will do it again.

    <strong>82, Mark Jones</strong>
    <em>5'9", 185 lbs. Tennessee, 5th year veteran, </em>
    Jones ha been primary punt returner that has also handled some kick off returner over his career. He is a backup No. 5 receiver that has had limited playtime as a receiver in 2007 e was inactive for more than half the season.

    He is a good athlete with nice speed and quickness. He is a small receiver. He was not much of a threat in the Buccaneers multiple packages.

    He tends to struggle off the line of scrimmage due to his lack of size and can get knocked to the ground and taken out of the play.

    As a punt returner, he shows good vision. Has some elusiveness and is more of a smooth athlete with good play speed than an explosive player with the ball in his hands. However he lacks strength to break tackles and will go down easily. With a returner such as Sproles, I think that Jones will end up being cap fodder.

    <strong>83, Vincent Jakson</strong>
    <em>6'5", 241 lbs. University of Northern Colorado, 4th year veteran, 2nd round raft choice, 2005</em>
    Jackson set career highs with six catches and 98 yards, while catching first touchdown pass of season from Philip Rivers Week 3 at Green Bay. Jackson developed into a real receiving threat in 2007. However inconsistent play still haunts him from time to time.

    Minor inconsistencies aside, Jackson as performed well enough to cement his place on the team as well as pus Chris Chambers for the number one receiver position.

    <strong>84, Buster Davis</strong>
    <em>6'1", 207 lbs. Louisiana State, 2nd year veteran, First round pick 2007 </em>
    Davis enters his second season in the NFL after being tabbed with San Diego's first-round pick in 2007. He is a versatile receiver with the size and strong hands to split out wide and the quickness to play out of the slot. He also handles punt returns on occasion; he fielded six last year with a long return of 24 yards.

    Davis made first-career start in week 2 at New England and helped keep third-quarter touchdown drive alive by drawing 37-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-7 play. He caught first-career touchdown pass in Lambeau Field on September 23 against Green Bay Packers. He also helped extend first-quarter touchdown drive Week 6 against Oakland with 18-yard catch on 3rd-and-2 play. Against Detroit on December 16 he caught an 11-yard catch on third-and-eight play helped sustain TD drive. He hauled in a 18 yard catch that helped set up Chargers' first touchdown in January 13th AFC Divisional Playoffs at Indianapolis.

    <strong>88, Eric Parker</strong>
    <em>6'0", 180 lbs. Tennessee, 7th year veteran, Undrafted Free Agent 2002 </em>
    Parker historically has bee a shoe in to make the roster year in and year out. However, with the acquisition of Chambers, the emergence of Jackson w could easily see his sent packing. This camp, if he is not traded will be Parkers only chance to prove he still deserves a roster spot on the Chargers.

    In 2007 Parker was Inactive with foot injury Weeks 1-6. He was then placed on "Reserve-Injured" list on October 16.

    <strong>89, Chris Chambers</strong>
    <em>5'11", 210 lbs. Wisconsin, 8th year veteran, Drafted 2001 </em>

    Chambers had 35 catches for 555 yards and four touchdowns in the 10 games he played with the Chargers. Chambers roved to be a stabilizing force in the Chargers offense when he joined the team. He has excellent speed and can stretch zones vertically.

    Chambers brought to the offense a new level of attack. No longer cold defenses stack up against the run and primarily defend against Gates. Chambers caused the opposition to play t whole field and loosened things up greatly for the Chargers Offense.

    In 2008 his role on the team is assured, however he will have to compete against Jackson for the true number one position.

    <strong>CONCUDAN'S SHOE IN'S:</strong>
    These are the players who I feel confident will be wearing Bolts and playing for the Chargers this season:

    <strong>85, Antonio Gates</strong>
    No brainier, even if he can't go until mid season, the Chargers will nee him come December and January!

    <strong>86, Brandon Manumaleuna</strong>
    Helllloooo! Best blocking tight end in the league!

    <strong>87, Scott Chandler</strong>
    Perhaps he is Gates' heir apparent. Apparently he will get to show us early this year.

    <strong>83, Vincent Jakson</strong>
    Young, big and improving each season. Look for a big season from him.

    <strong>84, Buster Davis</strong>
    This season he should get more playing time, he will need to make the most of it.

    <strong>89, Chris Chambers</strong>
    Absolutely one of the best acquisitions AJ has made. Hands down our #1 receiver.

    <strong>ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN:</strong>

    <strong>80, Malcom Floyd</strong>
    He disappeared last season, just fell off the radar for what should have been his breakout season. Doesn't bode well for this young player.

    <strong>81, Kassim Osgood</strong>
    Publicly feuding with AJ is not the way to get more playing time.

    <strong>3, Marco Thomas</strong>
    The kid has the number 3 and isn't throwing the ball. Camp Fodder.

    There are the 6 more players on the camp roster who will struggle for the few remaining roster spots. We can predict and debate until September about who it will be. But they will lace them up and compete in camp for those spots. That my friends are where we win, we will see good camp battles, we will see people working to keep their job. This makes the team better and the camps more poignant in my opinion.

    Let us not forget that there are but 8 allowed practice squad spots available each year. These spots cannot be set until early September, so as the month of August closes out, we could see some drama as we try and anticipate what is going to happen to the players and the positions.

    That is my opinion, what is yours?

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