Training Camp

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The lines in the sand in San Diego aren’t only on the beach volleyball courts. Through this offseason, the San Diego Chargers’ front office and management team of first-round pick Joey Bosa have drawn multiple lines in the sand to see who would flinch first. The holdout is the longest since the inception of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, which implemented a rookie wage scale. The wage scale slots a first-round pick’s salary based on where they were selected from 1-32.

The only sticking point that is possible is how much in guarantees and bonuses a player will receive over the life of his rookie deal. The issue is over offset language. Offset language can be simplified as such: If Bosa is cut or released during his rookie contract the Chargers are off the hook for any remaining salary he was scheduled to make.

Bosa’s management didn’t want any offset language in the contract. It means if Bosa did get cut or released before his rookie deal is up, he would still get paid his full rookie contract, fifth-year option included. Players call it double-dipping, meaning a player is making full salary from his former team and his new team simultaneously.

On Tuesday, the Chargers’ key front office personnel flew to Bosa’s hometown in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to get the deal done. They returned to San Diego at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time without Bosa on the plane. Bosa’s camp rejected the Chargers’ final offer.

Shortly thereafter, the Chargers’ front office issued a press release detailing the specifics of their offer to the public. Taken directly from the Chargers’ official Twitter page, the statement is shown below. Click on the image to enlarge.

While fans will be on either side of this ordeal, the Chargers have let the record show — for their fans and, more importantly, for those in the locker room — that they went to Florida to get a deal done and were still rebuffed by Bosa’s management. Both sides are culpable in this standoff.

The Chargers’ publicly stated they knew Bosa was their man since the beginning of the 2015 college football season and his performance in 2015 only solidified their stance. Contract negotiations could have taken place long before the draft to ensure this scenario wouldn’t happen. Such a practice, however, hasn’t been necessary since the new CBA was ratified in 2011.

On the other hand, it can be viewed as arrogant and selfish that Bosa demands his full signing bonus in year one and his contract fully guaranteed regardless of whether he is still on the team at the end of his rookie contract. What does he have to hide? If he is as good as he thinks he is and the Chargers’ are as high on him as they have stated in the past, the chances of him getting cut or released are minuscule at best.

Everyone understands the shelf life of an NFL player is short and by all means, negotiate to maximize as much of your perceived worth as possible. In the end, you’re only worth what a team is willing to pay. Bosa is going to get the worth of his full rookie contract anyway; just over time. To ask for what no other Chargers’ player has (full signing bonus up front and no offset language) is setting a bad precedent for the present and the future.

More lines in the sand…

With their best offer shot down, the Chargers’ have pulled the offer from the table and will henceforth revise the deal based on the viewpoint that he will likely not be ready to take the field for Week one on the road in Kansas City. Now, the choice for Bosa is  to sit out the season, miss out on millions of dollars and re-enter the draft in 2017 or sign and begin rebuilding a damaged relationship with the team, fans and front office.

All of a sudden, a shrug seems to be a perfect personification of how this negotiation has gone for both sides…

The sooner Bosa realizes he’s still a rookie that hasn’t played an official NFL down the better off he will be. In my opinion, he needs to swallow his pride, get on the field and prove his worth. When it’s time to negotiate the second contract, make all the demands you want. What do you think Bolt Nation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#Signthecontract

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I was at the joint practice between our San Diego Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium Tuesday night. Just before it started, it was announced on social media that Cardinals’ head coach, Bruce Arians, had been taken to the hospital experiencing stomach pains. Best wishes to him in his recovery.

The practice started with special teams drills (yawn). Then it was time for 1-on-1 drills,  consisting of wide receivers versus defensive backs that were much more exciting. Brandon Flowers was burned for several deep passes. His days as an outside cornerback are hopefully over. Jason Verrett also struggled early trying to cover Larry Fitzgerald.

After good coverage caused Philip Rivers to be unable to connect with Keenan Allen twice, the duo started lighting up the Cardinals secondary. First, with a deep bomb over coverage from Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals top defensive back. Allen looked unstoppable all night, catching nearly everything thrown his way, and getting open early and often.

Travis Benjamin made several nice and difficult catches where he used his quick twitch speed to change direction and come back to perfectly placed balls from PR17. Rivers later said that he and Benjamin “needed” that type of connection in practice. The duo looks to be gelling nicely.

During 11-on-11 drills the Chargers got the best of the exchanges on offense and defense. Melvin Gordon had several nice runs through the middle of the Cardinals’ defensive front seven. The Cardinals’ defense had trouble covering Tyrell Williams, because he is a beast.

Melvin Ingram looked like a man on a mission. He set the edge on back-to-back run plays to the outside with tackles for a loss or no gain. Early, Arizona was running almost every play to the outside, no doubt from watching the Chargers get gashed by the Titans on Saturday. With Ingram in the backfield on almost every run they changed the plays.

Casey Hayward looked very good; he had tight coverage on several plays resulting in pass breakups. In my opinion, Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward need to be the starting outside cornerbacks this season. Dexter McCoil ran stride-for-stride with Arizona receivers and had a great pass break-up in the end-zone.

Something interesting I saw during linebacker interception drills; both Manti Te’o and Jeremiah Attaochu had balls clank off their hands and land on the ground. As soon as they got to the huddle they were told to bust out push-ups in front of everyone. I personally love this kind of accountability. I have heard that this has happened before in some practices this year. In those cases, the whole front seven had to do push-ups during a practice when the unit was not getting enough pressure on the quarterback.   

Hunter Henry had a nice toe-tap touchdown, he looks to be a better red zone weapon than Ladarius Green was.

No major injuries to report. The “no-tackling” practice was competitive but not combative.

Quickly, I will give my thoughts on that sorry excuse for a preseason game that was played on Saturday between the Titans and Chargers:

Obviously it was great to see Ken Whisenhunt getting the Bolts’ offensive linemen coming forward on run plays instead of skating backwards. It was great to see Melvin Gordon finally get in the end-zone on a long catch-and-run. Gordon looked more confident and decisive. Not much bad to say about the first team offense. A low-light on offense was too many penalties on the line (coaching); hopefully they can get that cleaned up before they play Arizona on Friday.

The defense was terrible. They picked up right where they left off last season with not being able to tackle and giving up big plays in the run game. Of course this shouldn’t be a surprise because it’s been like this for five years now. John Pagano is still the defensive coordinator, and his defense still looks like they have no clue what they are doing with tons of missed assignments.

Now, I’ve heard people say it’s the first preseason game. Tackling across the league is bad right now since these players haven’t really tackled in 7-8 months. Okay, but this defense was missing it’s assignments, shooting the wrong gaps, and looked woefully unprepared. All of which is coaching. They have a lot to clean up.

One of the few bright spots on defense and special teams was Dexter McCoil. He blew up a Titans’ returner on a special teams play that caused him to lose about ten yards. He’s big, fast and can cover and tackle. He also had a fumble recovery. He needs to be one of the starting safeties. The kicking game and punt game both looked good. That’s all for now, thanks for reading.

 

#Preseason

 

@TravisBlake101            

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The San Diego Chargers host the Arizona Cardinals for a week of practice leading up to their game Friday. The Cardinals begin practice at Chargers Park on Tuesday after having their home turf taken over by Guns N’ Roses’ massive arena tour on Monday. On Tuesday, practice will be at Qualcomm Stadium, Wednesday at Chargers Park. Both teams will take the day off Thursday to rest before the game Friday.

The joint practice will be a nice change-of-pace for both teams. Undoubtedly, they’re all tired of hitting each other in practice. One could expect the intensity level of practice to heighten with men in different colored jerseys on the opposite sideline. This will be a big week for the players fighting to make the roster.

Living in Phoenix, I have heard plenty of juicy tidbits coming from the Cardinals’ side of the ball. The Arizona Cardinals are a Super Bowl favorite and a great way for the Chargers to test themselves against one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league. Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians expressed his respect for Chargers’ head coach Mike McCoy on local radio Monday and talked about the joint practice.

“That’s the one thing, I enjoy working with Mike McCoy because we have the same philosophy.” Arians said. “We wouldn’t practice any different. We wouldn’t hit a guy going over the middle on our team in practice; we won’t hit one of their guys going over the middle. We always stay away from the quarterback.” Arians continued.

“It’s creating competition but it’s practice, and we’ve got 180 guys on the same team for three days. Then we’ll play them in the game and all bets are off.” Arians said on the Doug and Wolf morning radio show Monday.

More interestingly, Cardinals’ General Manager Steve Keim was also on the radio Monday talking about the road trip and made no bones about the fact he was looking to wheel and deal if the opportunity presents itself.

“I reached out to Tom Telesco last night and he and I will get together before practices start and talk about both of our rosters,” Keim started. “See where our deficiencies are you know; in hopes that you can always talk about, hey, is there an area where we can help each other improve?” Keim stated.

This kind of talk goes on behind-the-scenes at every joint practice if the front office is worth their salt. There are two 90-man rosters full of guys playing their hardest to showcase their talents for their current team and whomever else may be watching. What’s curious about this case is that Keim, who does a radio segment every week in Phoenix, has made it no secret over the past two weeks that he will be actively pursuing a healthy exchange of ideas and hopefully players during this trip to San Diego.

Sounds like the Chargers have something the Cardinals want…

Let’s look at the possibilities. The Cardinals have a wealth of depth at their defensive line, wide receiver, secondary and running back positions. They are lacking on their offensive line, especially at right tackle. The Cards are currently starting D.J. Humphries. Humphries was their first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Arians listed Humphries as inactive for every game last season because of his inability to grasp the playbook and laziness on the practice field. Humphries earned the unfortunate nickname “knee-deep” referring to Arians’ disposition with Humphries in 2015.

Arizona’s deficiencies at linebacker have been hidden due to the effectiveness of the secondary and defensive line. If the Cardinals plan on carrying a third quarterback, it won’t be NFL journeyman Matt Barkley or Jake Coker, an undrafted free agent signee out of Alabama. Both quarterbacks have been unimpressive in camp and in their first preseason game.

San Diego has an abundance of talent at linebacker where they currently have 15 linebackers on their roster. The Chargers also have better depth at tight end, quarterback and offensive tackle. The possibilities for a talent exchange is endless but I will give you five names to watch.

RB Andre Ellington: The Cardinals drafted Ellington in the sixth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Lower leg and foot injuries have derailed what was a phenomenal start to his career. Ellington is finally back to full strength from his injuries but with Chris Johnson (who led the NFL in rushing yards before he went down to injury in 2015), the emergence of David Johnson, Stepfan Taylor (considered the best pass protector of the group) and Kerwynn Williams on board, Ellington may be the odd man out. Ellington would be a great insurance policy for Melvin Gordon and he is an electrifying return man as well. Just how fast is Ellington? He ran the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 4.51-seconds with a pulled hamstring!

QB Mike Bercovici and G Vi Teofilo: Both of these men played their college ball right down the I-10 at Arizona State University. Bercovici has been the most impressive of the quarterbacks the Chargers have brought in during the offseason. Kellen Clemens and Zach Mettenberger are likely to be second and third on the quarterback depth chart unless Telesco sees enough promise in Bercovici to make one of the two expendable. Teofilo is a 6″3′-inch, 315-pound guard who fills a need for depth at that position.

CB Justin Bethel: In a very crowded Cardinals’ secondary room, Bethel has sat on the sidelines with a foot injury and watched as his job is threatened by rookie third-round pick Brandon Williams. Williams has wowed the coaching staff with one head-turning practice after another and is making the most of his quick ascension to the first team.

Bethel was a key piece of the Cardinals’ 2015 secondary as the number two cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. With Peterson locking down his side of the field, lots of balls came Bethels’ way and he was up to the task with 46 combined tackles, nine passes defensed, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and two forced fumbles. Bethel was signed to a three-year, $15-million dollar contract extension in the offseason and made the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive year in 2015 as a special-teamer. Arians has a reputation for his disdain for players in the trainers’ room. Bethel could be moved if the price is right.

ILB Manti Te’o: Manti isn’t on the bubble but this is a contract year for him. Many stories are afloat about Te’o finally coming into his own as a leader. Foot injuries limited his effectiveness in his first two seasons but he finally showed what he is capable of in 2015 as he led the Chargers in tackles with 107 combined tackles. Te’o had a strong finish to his 2015 season, especially after Denzel Perryman was promoted to starter midway through the season. The two had an unspoken chemistry and played well off each other.

Why would the Chargers let him go now?

Te’o leaves you wanting more and not necessarily in a good way. Every missed tackle, every time a receiver catches a ball right in front of him, every time he’s left behind by a running back we shake our heads in frustration. To his credit, 2015 was hands down the best we’ve seen of him. However, there is a reason Telesco hasn’t offered him an extension when he has been diligently signing the Chargers’ core players to multi-year deals.

A Te’o-for-Bethel deal works for both sides.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TrainingCamp2016

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The San Diego Chargers have begun making roster moves and training camp isn’t set to begin until Saturday. On Friday, the Chargers waived center Trevor Robinson. Part of the carousel at the center position, Robinson had 14 starts at center over the last two seasons.

Also included in the recent mix of Chargers centers since 2013 are Chris Watt, Nick Hardwick, Doug Legursky and Rich Ohrnberger.

The free agent signing of former-Chicago Bears offensive lineman Matt Slauson is expected to stop the revolving door at center while 2016 NFL Draft third-round pick Max Tuerk is groomed to be the center of the future. Slauson is an eight-year veteran who will be looked to provide leadership and serve as a mentor to Tuerk and the young offensive linemen.

The release of Robinson frees $2.3-million in cap space.

The free roster spot was filled with the signing of offensive lineman Marcel Jones. Listed at 6’7″-inches tall and 320 pounds, Jones was a seventh-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is listed as a guard/tackle. Now entering his fourth season as a pro, Jones has been limited to playing on the practice squad for the Saints and Baltimore Ravens.

Training camp is heating up and the first pass hasn’t been thrown yet. What will the Chargers do next? Are you excited for the 2016 edition of the San Diego Chargers so far? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TrainingCamp2016

 

 

 

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Football is finally in the air again as the San Diego Chargers take the field for their first training camp of 2016 in less than 24 hours. The camp will be free and open to the public. Rookies and veterans report Friday for physicals. On Saturday, ninety men will take the field at Chargers Park ready to make a name for themselves.

That is, all but one.

The saga surrounding the Chargers’ first round draft pick, defensive end Joey Bosa, continues. Bosa will continue his holdout and will be a no-show at training camp opening day. ESPN Chargers reporter Eric Williams posted the story below less than an hour ago detailing the particulars of the holdout. The story also includes an ESPN Cover 2 segment moderated by Trey Wingo about the Bosa holdout.

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/17170932/unsigned-rookie-joey-bosa-report-san-diego-chargers-training-camp

The issue is money. Bosas’ management team, CAA, wants Bosa to have no offset language in his contract. In short, he wants to be paid his full guaranteed monies regardless of whether he is still a member of the Chargers at the end of his rookie deal or not.

If for some reason Bosa is released and signed by another team before the end of his contract, without offset language, the Chargers would still have to pay Bosa the full value of his contract even if he is playing for another team and getting paid by said other team. The Chargers have not allowed this provision to any player on the roster and don’t plan on starting now.

The negotiation continues but by holding his stance and holding out as camp opens, Bosa puts himself behind the eight-ball when it comes to performing on the field when the games count for real. His teammates will forgive him as every player in the locker room understand trying to get as much money as possible while you can.

Where Bosa will sour himself to his teammates and fans is if he shows up and underperforms or is slow adapting to the playbook. If he plays and provides 8-10 sacks and a proficiency for bringing down the ball carrier, al will be forgiven. Time will tell.

Saturday, the clock starts ticking.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

#TrainingCamp2016

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In less than 24 hours the 2016 San Diego Chargers will take the field for training camp. Bringing you continual coverage of the names in the program we don’t know, today, I focus my player spotlight on tight end prospect Matt Weiser.

Weiser signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent the day after the 2016 NFL Draft. He played for the Buffalo Bulls of the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Listed at 6’5″, 241-pounds, Weiser is the ideal size preferred for a San Diego Chargers tight end. He comes in on the heels of a breakout senior year in which he posted a school-record for catches and receiving yards by a tight end. He was also a Coaches’ selection to the All-MAC Conference First Team in 2015.

Weiser lit up the MAC with 63 catches for 625 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. For his career, he logged 92 catches for 1,080 yards and eight touchdowns. Weiser concluded the 2015 NCAA season with the fourth-highest receiving grade among tight ends.

At the Buffalo Pro Day, Weiser ran the 40-yard dash in 4.80-seconds, posted 18 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, a 30-inch vertical jump and broad jumped nine feet, six inches. Watching the video below, it’s easy to see what the Chargers’ war room saw in the young prospect. He has performed well against big name opponents and was versatile enough to play both sides of the ball.

The competition at tight end will be fierce in training camp. Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry are already slotted in as the top-two tight ends on the depth chart. After that, there is a logjam for the third tight end slot. Also in the mix with Weiser are veterans Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, Sean McGrath and fellow undrafted free agent rookie Tim Semisch.

Not everyone will make the cut. One more name can be expected to make the 53-man roster and a couple others will be moved to the practice squad. A couple others will play in a different uniform. One thing for certain, the race to be the heir apparent to the Hall-of-Fame bound Gates is on and it will be one of the most intriguing position battles to watch as training camp is set to open Saturday.

Weiser will be catching passes wearing number 46. Follow him on Twitter: @mweiser89.

Good luck, Mr. Weiser.

 

Bolt up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TrainingCamp2016

 

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The countdown to San Diego Chargers training camp 2016 now stands at four days. The eyes will be trained to look for the faces we know. There will be many more faces we don’t know which will require a look into the program to see who’s making head-turning plays on the field. In an effort to provide as many advance primers as possible, today, I turn my player spotlight on Carlos Wray.

Wray signed with San Diego as an undrafted free agent immediately after the 2016 NFL Draft. The 6’1″, 287-pounder was the anchor of the Duke Blue Devils’ defense as their defensive tackle. Versatile, Wray was moved all over the field starting out as a defensive lineman, then to guard in his second year on the team. He had the most success his final two seasons in Blue Devils’ blue when he was moved to defensive tackle. In those two seasons he logged 86 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes defensed.

At the Duke Pro Day, Wray ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds; impressive for a man his size. He posted 26 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press, broad jumped nine feet and showed a 28.5-inch vertical leap. NFL scouts love his wide body, high motor and fundamentally sound skill set, even though he’s only been playing defensive tackle for two seasons. After watching the video below, it’s obvious he was born to play defensive tackle.

Wray was the unquestioned leader of the Blue Devils’ locker room and those leadership attributes will translate well in the NFL. The line forms behind Brandon Mebane when it comes to nose tackles for the San Diego Chargers. The mix at DT currently consists of Corey Liuget, Sean Lissemore, Ryan Carrethers, Damion Square, Tenny Palepoi and Wray.

There is opportunity to take a slot on the depth chart for Wray. If he can bring the same intensity and passion he played with at Duke to Chargers Park, he has a great chance of staying on the roster. As a native North Carolinian and ACC homer, I will definitely be pulling for Wray to make the team.

What do you think? Do you like what you see? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Follow Carlos on Twitter: @The1st_Montana

 

Good luck, Mr. Wray.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TrainingCamp2016

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In my ongoing attempt to bring you expanded coverage of the San Diego Chargers 2016 training camp roster, I cherry-pick another candidate vying for a spot on the 53-man roster. Today, we’ll take a look at a position that has been long on talent and short on stability.

Cornerback Trevor Williams signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent immediately after the draft. He is a four-year product out of Penn State. Standing 5-foot-11, 191-pounds, Williams looks to crack a crowded field of contenders. To his advantage, cornerback is a position in need of quality depth as injuries have wreaked havoc on the starters in recent seasons.

Interestingly, Williams came to Penn State as a wide receiver. In his sophomore year, Williams switched to cornerback, where he would play the final three seasons of his collegiate career. In two of those three seasons at corner, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Last season he posted 33 tackles, four passes defensed, three tackles for loss and one interception.

At the Penn State Pro Day, Williams ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.44 seconds and had a 35.5-inch vertical jump. Considered a quiet leader by his teammates and coaches, he has the size, speed and intangibles needed to make it at the pro level. His coach spoke glowingly of him after hearing of his signing with San Diego.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for Trevor,” Penn State coach James Franklin said in a release to the media. “Trevor was a mainstay on our defense for three seasons. His speed, length and intelligence will give him a chance to continue his career. He earned his degree in just three and a half years while leading our defense with a quiet confidence.”

 

 

Like many of the other undrafted free agents, Williams is high on potential, playing to live out his dream of making an NFL roster. He has impressive size, the speed you look for in a cornerback, wide receiver-skilled hands and as you can see in the video above, he seeks contact and plays well against the run. Call it surname bias if you like, but I like his chances of making the team as a backup cornerback and special teams ace.

Good luck, Mr. Williams.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TrainingCamp2016

 

marcordes2

 

 

The countdown to training camp continues, as only 10 days remain until we get our first glimpse of the San Diego Chargers’ full 90-man roster. Of course, I’m optimistically saying 90 because we know 89 of them will be there for sure.

In an ongoing effort to introduce Chargers Nation to players in the program we haven’t heard of, I shine my player spotlight on Tyler Marcordes.

Marcordes signed with the Chargers immediately after the 2016 NFL Draft as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound outside linebacker played in the ACC for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. After redshirting his first year in 2011, Marcordes did not miss a single game the following four seasons at Georgia Tech.

He finally became a full-time starter in his senior season in 2015, posting an impressive 51 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles. In his four seasons on the field, he compiled 102 tackles (67 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, two interceptions, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. More impressively, of his 53 games only 21 were starts with 19 of those starts in his redshirt junior and senior seasons.

Marcordes greatest moment of glory on the field came during his junior year versus Elon.  The play is held in high esteem as an ACC Must See Moment. Check out the footage below.

Marcordes had a great showing at the Georgia Tech Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds. That time would have placed eighth among linebackers at the NFL Combine. Marcordes posted a 35-inch vertical jump and broad jumped nine feet, ten inches.  He comes from a football bloodline as his father, Bill Marcordes Jr., played linebacker for Illinois Wesleyan. His grandfather, Bill Marcordes Sr., played defensive end at Bradley University on the way to being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 18th round of the 1965 NFL Draft.

Marcordes will have ample opportunity to make a name for himself in training camp, working to crack a very crowded field of linebackers. He showed he can make plays when he’s on the field in college. Here’s hoping he can do the same on the field at Chargers Park and in the preseason. San Diego nailed it with an ACC linebacker last year (University of Miami product Denzel Perryman).

Will Marcordes prove them right again?

He will be #44 in your program. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@TylerMarcordes).

Good luck, Mr. Marcordes.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#TrainingCamp2016

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On paper, The San Diego Chargers have had one of their best offseasons in recent history when it comes to player acquisitions. Their 2016 NFL Draft averaged out to a B grade if you listen to the talking heads and draft gurus on TV and radio. Chargers fans once again have reason to be optimistic about the team’s chances of going worst to first and returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season.

Improving the wide receiving corps, adding team speed and improving special teams were high on the Chargers’ to-do list this offseason and they succeeded in all three facets. The loss of Malcom Floyd (retirement) was answered by the free agent signing of speed burner Cleveland Browns’ Travis Benjamin. Healthy returns of Javontee Herndon, Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman are also expected to help.

The San Diego Chargers/Denver Broncos intra-conference pipeline was still shown to be intact when the Chargers signed Broncos’ kick returner/wide receiver Isaiah Burse to their practice squad in November 2015. Now entering his second season as a pro, Burse played 12 games as a rookie in Denver as a punt returner. Last season he had 29 returns for 211 yards, good for a 7.3-yard average.

The 5’10”, 187-pound Burse showed in college at Fresno State that he has what it takes to be an elite returner as he posted an FBS single-season record for kickoff returns in 2012 with 75 returns for 1,606 yards; an average of a scorching 21.4 yards per return.

Over his four seasons at Fresno State, Burse had 126 kickoff returns for 2,835 yards (22.4 yards per return) and 29 punt returns for 344 yards (11.5 yards per return). He also caught 210 passes for 2,503 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 191 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries.

After being signed by Denver as an undrafted free agent in May of 2014, Burse played most of the season before being waived then placed on the Broncos’ practice squad that December. Waived again in early September 2015, Burse was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad and released later that month. San Diego signed Burse in November 2015 and he re-signed with the Bolts’ on a Futures contract in January.

In Denver and Pittsburgh, Burse was lost in the shuffle of an already deep talent pool at wide receiver and returner. In San Diego, he will have every opportunity to claim a spot at both positions. We know the punt returner slot is already claimed by Benjamin, but a dynamic kickoff returner is something the Chargers have lacked for a long time. Given the opportunity, Burse can show he is the future of the position and etch his name in stone as a kick returner and as added depth on the wide receiver depth chart.

One look at the video below and it’s easy to see why Chargers GM Tom Telesco has tracked the 24-year old native of Modesto, CA, for so long. He runs faster on the field than the 4.58-seconds 40-yard dash time he posted at the 2014 NFL Draft Combine. He is sudden, can stop on a dime and effortlessly change direction. Burse is shifty, elusive and tenacious when attacking the defense as a receiver or returner.

The competition at wide receiver for spots on the 53-man roster will be one of the top position battles to watch when camp opens in less than two weeks. Get your popcorn ready.

Good luck, Mr. Burse.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#Trainingcamp2016

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