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.
The Greg One
Only 14 short days remain until the San Diego Chargers open their 2016 training camp with a practice that’s open to the public on July 30th. Hopefully, we’ll get our first look at the full 90-man roster competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. The first man selected by the Chargers with the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Joey Bosa, is still not under contract. In this piece we take a look at the last man selected by the Chargers in the draft, Donavon Clark.
With their seventh-round draft pick (224th overall), the Chargers sought to add more beef to the offensive line. Clark is a hulkish 6-foot-4, 315-pound guard out of Michigan State University. Clark was highly praised for his versatility. When injuries arose along the MSU offensive line, Clark filled in seamlessly.
At the MSU Pro Day, Clark recorded an impressive 26 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.17 seconds and broad jumped 8’6″. Coaches and scouts love his football IQ, leadership skills and wide body.
After redshirting in 2011, Clark played in six games in 2012 as a redshirt freshman. From his sophomore season on, he played in every game and was the full-time starter in his junior and senior seasons. In all, he started 33 of 47 games at Michigan State.
In his four-year career, Clark recorded nine starts at right tackle and six starts at left tackle. His normal position on the offensive line was right guard. ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper had glowing words for Clark after the Chargers selected him.
“What you like about Michigan State offensive linemen is they come in NFL ready. It’s a pro offense,” Kiper said. “This is a kid that shows he can move defenders off the line of scrimmage. Adequate in pass protection. Has some versatility. When you come out of this offense, Jack Allen, Jack Conklin, these kids are ready to step in. It’s not a learning curve with the Michigan State offensive line.”
Check out the video to see why Kiper was so bullish on Clark:
The Spartans were one of the Nation’s best offensive lines in 2015. Clark shows excellent lateral quickness, ability to read and react to rushers and block them out of the play or away from the ball handler. (And how can you not love the added bonus he brings to the table at the 3:04 mark of the video?) Clark was a Coaches’ selection for All-Big Ten third-team in 2015.
The Chargers need as much quality offensive line depth as they can get, and Clark is a huge upside prospect. He is durable, can play guard and tackle and comes from a big-time program with a pro-style system. This man (#63 in your program) will be one to watch as he challenges for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Follow Donavon on Twitter @donavon76
Good luck, Mr. Clark.
The Greg One
Last week I did a player spotlight on practice squad tight end Tim Semisch. The 6-foot-8, 267-pound pro is entering his second NFL season after being signed to the Chargers’ practice squad last December, then resigned in January. Semisch is hungry for a spot on the 53-man roster and took time out of his hectic training schedule for this interview documenting his journey.
Take us on your journey from the end of your last season at NIU to right now.
After my senior season. I trained at school (NIU) with another TE, a running back, and a D-lineman, A friend who transferred to NIU with me from a D2 school in NE. We would workout from 5am-7am every morning, 5 days a week. We would do position work in the evenings 1-3 days a week depending on our work schedules. I also played club hockey for NIU during that time.
About a month before Pro Day I had a bad injury to my hip flexor. I had to decide between surgery and be out a full year or rehab and hope it healed. So, I hoped for the best and I found an amazing PT near school who worked wonders with me. I did what I could training for Pro Day and was able to do Pro Day. I wasn’t at 100% yet but probably 75-80%. I did Pro Day and then hoped and prayed for the best.
Draft weekend came and went. The day after the draft ended I got an invite to the Dolphins rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Long story short, I fought and earned a contract and invite to stay with the team. During OTAs I learned A TON from Jordan Cameron, Jake Stoneburner, Dion Sims, and Arthur Lynch, the tight ends there. As well as our position coach(s) Dan Campbell and Mike Wahl.
I started doing extra work in the weight room-film room and would go in on my off days with a few other players to walk through plays or just work fundamentals, long snap, or all the above. Longer story short. I worked my tail off through the preseason, but it wasn’t enough for a 53-man roster spot but was on the practice squad, which only made me hungrier. I always stayed ready and up to date with the game plan every week. I wanted to learn as much as possible and I knew I could be called up any minute, which almost happened a couple times with injuries to both Dion and Jordan.
Near the end of the season, the defense in Miami took a hit due to some injuries and they needed space to bring in some depth. At time the TE room was healthy. I was the low man on the totem pole at the time and was let go. That’s just how this business is sometimes. But luckily a few weeks, and many stressful nights later, I was lucky enough to be picked up by the Chargers have been out in San Diego ever since!
You caught 10 passes in three seasons at NIU, yet last season in Miami you made it through until the final cut to 53. What did the scouts in Miami and San Diego see in you that led them to sign you to their practice squads?
They haven’t told me much. As a player, you don’t get a ton of contact with the scouts. So other than the usual: We like your size, athleticism, ability to long snap, etc, etc… I’d like to think it’s my work ethic. I pride myself on being the first in building and the last one off the field every day. To me, there’s always something I can be working on to improve myself and my game.
Take us through a day in the life of Tim Semisch, Chargers practice squad player.
(Here was my OTA schedule during the week) 4:30am wake up. Quick breakfast. At the facility by 5-515 at the latest. Hot tub/steam for 10-15 minutes. Then lift and run until 645-7. Second, bigger breakfast. Film study or playbook study in the TE room for 30-45 minutes. Then team schedule until practice was over around 1pm. Stay on the field for extra work. Juggs, blocking sled, special teams work, long snapping, conditioning, anything I felt I needed work. Then lunch, then watch the day’s practice on my own and any extra film.
I tried to watch 2-3 games from last year every week during OTAs. Then head home to relax or hang out with friends. Go to the beach, I lived in PB during OTAs so I was at the beach almost if not everyday. Even if it was for 10-20 minutes just to relax and watch the sunset. My schedule in camp will be about the same, the days will just be longer and I probably won’t make it out to the beach much either lol.
You have a great opportunity to pick the brain of one of the greatest tight ends ever to play the game, Antonio Gates. Do you get to spend much time learning from him on or off the field?
I watch as much film of Gates as I can, game or practice. When I’m around him on the field, I’ll ask him for tips or advice on certain routes, or how he reads the coverages. If I’m struggling with something he’s always willing to walk through stuff or just talk football and say/show how he would handle different things.
Being on the practice squad must come with more uncertainty than if you were a drafted rookie. How do you prepare mentally to achieve your goal of making the 53-man roster?
That’s what drives me. I know I’m fighting an uphill battle. Being undrafted, from a small school, with little to no stats, the odds are not exactly in my favor. But, with all that said, I know I can bring a lot to the table and be a key player in helping a team win. So for me, I use it as motivation to keep my head down and to keep working. Being on the practice squad last year only made me hungrier and want a roster spot more.
I found a South Florida television interview in which you told the reporter that at NIU you played a few snaps at defensive end. A. How did that happen? B. Would you do it again? C. Have you told Pagano?
A. I played it in HS and actually had more INTs than receptions on varsity. (We ran the wing-T triple option. So we didn’t pass much). My sophomore year, our two All-Conference DE’s begged for a special trick play on offense. So they played TE a couple times. The plays never worked tho. But me and another TE struck a deal with the d-line coach that if they got to take our spot, we’d get to take their spot if the chance presented itself. So we took some reps at practice from time to time. And the coach actually liked me as a DE, but I was only an emergency back-up.
B. I would do it in a heartbeat, no questions asked!
C. I mentioned it to coach Pagano once or twice in passing but I doubt he took me serious. I would love a chance at some reps at it though. I have mentioned it to Melvin Ingram and he’s showed me a few things if I ever get the chance to take a few reps.
We all know Philip Rivers loves his tight ends. We can all only imagine how much fun he would have throwing to a 6-foot-8 target. Have you had much time to catch balls from him and, if so, what has that experience been like?
Working with Phil has been an awesome experience, from the way he explains how he wants certain routes run, to how he throws the ball. The first couple times we would go out as an offense to throw, it was kinda a surreal feeling catching passes from Philip Rivers. It’s been an awesome experience to just be around him and Gates and watch how true pros work day in and day out.
Do you have a roommate whom you live with on the team or do you live alone?
I lived by myself during OTAs. I got an Airbnb out in PB before we even started team activities. But I always either had guys over, or would hangout with other guys on the team.
Mike McCoy recently said he wants the team to have more fun on the field. Have you seen this statement manifest itself in practice yet?
Absolutely, from the music that’s played at practice, to the competitive trash talk between the guys and even a few coaches. You could tell everyone, coaches and players alike, were having fun while still working hard at practice.
Who is your best friend on the team? Do the practice squad players have a brotherhood type of mentality based on the fact you’re all in the same boat, so to speak?
I wouldn’t pick one guy as my best friend in-particular. But I’d say the TE group as whole is pretty close off the field. Outside of them, Danny Woodhead has been a great role model and vet for me to be around. Also the specialist group as whole, I work a lot with both Casey And Drew on long snapping and Mike and Josh on short snaps as well. But I wouldn’t say the practice squad are any different than the active roster guys during the season. Everyone pretty much acts as one team. It sucks being a new guy when you come. Most guys have been there so they show you the ropes the first couple days, because every team operates differently.
Give us your favorite moment since arriving in San Diego (on or off the field).
Other than being a 10-minute walk to the beach everyday, I’d say the last home game of last season. It was against my old team so I got to see some old friends and coaches. We won the game, and best of all, Qualcomm was ROCKING. With everyone showing their support for the team, and wanting the team to stay in San Diego. It was just an amazing day and game to be a part of.
What message would you like to give the San Diego Chargers fans?
I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this city and this team. And if given the opportunity, I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team win and go from worst to first!
BoltBlitz.com would like to thank Tim for taking the time to do this interview. We’re all rooting for you!
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TDSemisch82
The Greg One
In two short weeks, the San Diego Chargers will kick off their 2016 training camp. Ninety men will compete for 53 spots on the active roster while another ten will be assigned to the practice squad.
In our effort to familiarize the casual Chargers fan to names other than the ones we hear every day during the season, we spotlight the unheralded men who push the starters to be better every day, thus making the team better as a whole.
James Ross is a 6-foot-1, 232-pound inside linebacker from the University of Michigan. Ross was a four-year letterman for the Wolverines and was an All-Big Ten and All-America Bowl selection as a freshman in 2012. After his standout freshman season, he followed it up with an even more impressive sophomore campaign where he more than doubled his tackles (from 36 to 84), sacks (from .5 to 1.5) and tackles for loss (from 2.5 to 5.5).
In his four seasons, Ross accumulated 188 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Despite his impressive statistics, a questionable decision by the Michigan coaching staff may have derailed his chances of having significantly greater statistics and possibly ruined his opportunity to be selected during the draft.
The staff moved Ross from inside linebacker to strong-side linebacker in his junior season coincided with a precipitous drop in his numbers across the board. Instead of chasing down ball carriers, his job became one of directing the ball carrier into the middle of the defensive line. Ross would log fewer tackles (67) in his final two seasons at Michigan than he had in his sophomore season alone(84).
Prior to the 2016 draft, Ross turned in a 40-yard dash time of 4.7 seconds and 22 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press.
Nearly one month after the draft, Ross signed on with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent. The Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions were all interested in bringing him to camp. He faces an uphill climb to make the Chargers’ roster, as he is one of six rookie linebackers trying to make the team. Linebacker is one of the few positions where the Bolts have an overabundance of talent.
Working to his advantage is his versatility. At his Pro Day, he also ran drills as a fullback where his ability to effectively use his hands and power translated well. In high school, Ross played tight end on offense; so he’s no stranger to catching the ball. Being able to move back to his natural position of inside linebacker, where he can play more instinctively, will also help him turn heads once camp begins.
May the best 53 men win.
Follow James on Twitter: @jross_iii
Good luck, Mr. Ross.
The Greg One
Today, Boltblitz continues to spotlight more of the names on the 90-man roster unfamiliar to the casual San Diego Chargers fan. Kenneth Farrow is a 5’10”, 219-pound running back out of the University of Houston. He was signed after the 2016 NFL Draft as an undrafted free agent and we’ll see him on the field competing for a roster spot when camp opens in two short weeks.
Farrow only missed one game in his four seasons at Houston. Each passing season his star continued to rise. Each of his first three seasons his carries, attempts, yards, yards per game and touchdowns increased. There was a slight dip in his totals during his senior season but that can also be attributed to the fact he played in one less game. In his career at Houston, Farrow averaged five yards or more per carry each season and had a run of 40-yards or more each season.
All tolled, Farrow logged 560 carries for 2,980 yards and 34 touchdowns. He was also a good hand catching the ball out of the backfield as he hauled in 74 passes for 560 yards and three touchdowns. Farrow showed he is a locker room and field leader as in each of his last three seasons he was voted a team captain.
At the UH Pro Day, Farrow posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.59 seconds, a vertical jump of 38-inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 2 inches. He also showed impressive strength by doing 23 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press. His vertical and cone drill times would have ranked third among running backs at the NFL Combine.
Take a look at this impressive highlight reel from his junior year in which he ran for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The San Diego Chargers could use the backfield depth with Melvin Gordon coming off microfracture surgery in January. Farrow looks to be an excellent blend of size and speed with above-average field vision and the ability to make tacklers miss as well as break tackles. At Houston, Farrow showed he is an every down back.
If something happens to Gordon or the knee is slow to get back to 100%, Danny Woodhead is not an every down running back. Branden Oliver would be the next man up to assume that role. With one impressive training camp and preseason Farrow could install himself into that mix. There is a spot to be claimed. Farrow should have ample opportunity to take advantage.
Follow Kenneth on Twitter: @F_A_R_R_O_W_
Good luck Mr. Farrow.
The Greg One
Today, we take a look at one of the gems of the San Diego Chargers 2016 undrafted free agent class, wide receiver Dominique Williams. Williams is one of the most prolific receivers in PAC-12 history, finishing seventh in league history with 30 touchdown catches over his four-year career at Washington State University.
The 6’2″, 198-pound Williams enters the NFL on the heels of a stellar 2015 season at WSU as he caught 75 passes for 1,040 yards and 11 touchdowns. Every single season from his freshman year through his remarkable 2015 senior season, Williams increased his receptions, yards and touchdowns.
The native of Pomona, CA ranks third in Washington State history in receptions (190), and second in career yards (2,889) and touchdowns (30). At WSU’s Pro Day, Williams ran the 40-yard dash in a sizzling 4.39 and 4.41 seconds, posted a 40.5-inch vertical jump and broad jumped 10 feet, 5-inches. His 40-time and vertical jump scores would both have been the second-best scores at the NFL Combine among wide receivers.
Check out the video below highlighting Williams’ phenomenal 2015 season.
So why wasn’t this man drafted?
For as much success as he had on the field, the system he played in was also a knock on him. In Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, Williams didn’t run a great array of routes. One scouting site said he’s prone to lapses in concentration. That claim gains further credibility when you consider the fact that over his four seasons, he dropped 20 passes and had an 11.8% drop rate according to NFL.com.
System. Drops. Questions about the route tree. These are all issues that can be corrected with proper coaching. To be issues that get you excluded from the draft altogether borders on lunacy in my opinion.
It certainly seems that the positives far outweigh the negatives. The Chargers may have again struck gold in the undrafted free agent talent pool with the signing of Williams. We’ll know more very soon as the start of training camp closes in.
The Bolts needed more speed at the wide receiver position. The signing of free agent wide receiver Travis Benjamin was a major boost to the offense in that respect. If Williams can translate his college success onto the field at Chargers Park, they then will have not one but two speed burners who can take the top off the defense and open the field for Philip Rivers.
After that, the possibilities are endless.
So there you have it Chargers fans, one more player to watch and root for in hopes he can aid in the revival of the vertical passing attack. From one Williams to another, I’m definitely pulling for the rookie in scarlet and gray to translate into Charger blue and gold. If he shows up with lightning in his legs and a chip on his shoulder, I have a good feeling we’ll be hearing his name on gameday Sunday for many years to come.
Follow Dominique on Twitter: @Domwill80
Best of luck, Mr. Williams.
The Greg One
The San Diego Chargers secured the future of the tight end position with their selection of Arkansas Razorbacks All-American, John Mackey Award-winning stud Hunter Henry in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Henry is tabbed as the heir apparent to Hall-of-Fame bound Antonio Gates. As we all know, injuries are a very real thing in pro football. The Chargers have been decimated by injuries season after season. Unfortunately, not all high draft picks pan out.
One can never be too prepared.
With the first two slots on the depth chart filled, the challenge of finding a solid third tight end will be an interesting camp battle to watch. Stepping up to the challenge are:
1. Asante Cleveland, a second-year pro out of the University of Miami.
2. Jeff Cumberland, a seventh-year pro who spent his first six seasons with the New York Jets.
3. Sean McGrath, a second-year pro out of Henderson State.
4. Matt Weiser, an undrafted free agent rookie out of the University of Buffalo.
One of the biggest long shots in the field is literally the biggest of the entire group. While the aforementioned four players all average a stout 6’5″, 250-pounds, Tim Semisch stands 6’8″, 267-pounds.
Semischs’ pro career began with the Miami Dolphins where he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. After toiling away on the Dolphins’ practice squad he was released in November and signed to the Chargers’ practice squad in December.
Semisch signed a futures contract in January 2016 and will be competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. Semisch played his college ball at Northern Illinois University. While he’s not fast (ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 at NIU’s pro day), his height, length and versatility will be features that make him a viable candidate as a possible third tight end or special teams.
In a pre-draft interview, Semisch explained that at NIU he was able to take advantage of his size advantage, be a good pass catcher or blocker, can rush the passer if needed and he also became a good long snapper. He stated his desire to play wherever is necessary to make the team.
While he was used primarily as a blocker he did show the ability to make big plays in the passing game, as evidenced in the video clip below. In three seasons he caught a grand total of ten passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. If he makes the 53-man roster with Rivers throwing him the ball, he’s likely to eclipse those numbers in one game.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TDSemisch82
Here’s to rooting for the underdog and unearthing more diamonds in the rough! Good luck Mr. Semisch.
The Greg One
Excitement and enthusiasm is in the air for the 2016-2017 edition of the San Diego Chargers. At this time in the offseason, it’s in the air for the fans of the other 31 NFL teams as well. With the free agency, NFL Draft period over and what looks to be a loaded 90-man roster in place, hope for a successful season is renewed.
Time to take off the rose-colored glasses for a moment and look at the team from an analytics standpoint. The Chargers do look like they have helped themselves immensely this offseason. To take a closer look I am going to dissect the offense and assign each aspect of the offense a point value. These will be the points I expect that aspect of the offense to generate every game. Of course that number is subject to change based on injuries, offseason acquisitions etc…
The points will then be added and that will be the expected points-per-game expectation for the offense. Some of you will think I’ve graded too harshly while others will think not harshly enough but it’s a jumping off point and that’s the objective. I’ll be looking forward to reading your views in the comments below.
The offense begins and ends with Philip Rivers. The Chargers’ iron man, Rivers has not missed a single game in ten seasons. His streak is second-longest in the NFL behind Eli Manning of the New York Giants (183). Rivers only trails Manning because Rivers didn’t start until his third season while Manning started in his rookie year.
Over the last three seasons, Rivers has averaged a stat line of 398-591 for 4,518 yards passing with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and two fumbles lost. What’s more, he has averaged 56 passes of 20-yards or more and slightly over seven completions of 40-yards or more. This impressive stat line comes despite woeful offensive line play that has him getting sacked an average of 35 times over that same three-season period.
Last season, Rivers threw for career-highs in attempts (661), completions (437) and yards (4,792). The running game was non-existent and the Chargers went through 25 offensive line changes. The weight of being the only reliable offensive option took its toll on Rivers and the Bolts record. This year, a more balanced offense will yield better results on the scoreboard and in the standings.
Points-per-game expectation: 14
Running backs and fullbacks
Franchise running back Melvin Gordon had a disappointing rookie season. The Chargers, the fans and Gordon himself expected better than the 184 carries for 641 yards he accumulated in 14 games. Gordon is still awaiting his first NFL regular season touchdown and needs to improve his ball security. Four of Gordons’ six fumbles were recovered by the defense.
Danny Woodhead was the most consistent running back and the leading receiver for the Chargers last season. Woodhead had 98 carries for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Receiving, Woodhead amassed 80 receptions for 755 yards with six touchdowns. Take away the 2014 season in which Woodhead missed all but three games with a broken leg; in 2013 and 2015 Woodhead has averaged 382 yards and 2.5 touchdowns on 102 rushing attempts and 680 yards and six touchdowns on 78 receptions.
Branden Oliver was rarely seen in 2015 but showed his worth in 2014 after the injury to Woodhead where he emerged to lead the Chargers in rushing in 2014 as a rookie. Last season he had 31 attempts for 108 yards rushing at 13 receptions for 112 yards receiving. The coaching staff has expressed their desire to add Oliver in the mix in 2016 which is an intriguing prospect. Time will tell.
In the sixth round San Diego selected Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt. The significance of this selection is Watt was Gordons’ blocking fullback each of his three seasons at Wisconsin. It’s reasonable to expect the two already have a chemistry and understanding of one another that will translate to the field.
The new rule that chop blocks will not be allowed on the line of scrimmage will make having a good fullback on the field more important. This will also slowly bring about the re-emergence of Power-I formations. Not coincidentally, the Power-I is the formation Watt and Gordon ran to NCAA record-smashing success. There is change brewing in the run game and it will only help the offense as a whole.
Points per-game expectation: 6
At 36 years young, Hall of Fame bound Antonio Gates enters his 14th NFL season after re-signing with the Bolts for two more seasons. The eight-time Pro Bowler began the 2015 season on the suspended list, missing four games for taking a banned substance. He played well in the eleven games he saw the field afterward, tallying 56 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns. Gates contemplated retirement before the end of last season but after the Chargers dismal season, Gates opted to return. He told the media “I didn’t want to go out like that.”
Gates finds himself on the precipice of NFL history this season. With eight touchdowns, Gates (104) will surpass Tony Gonzalez (111) into first place for touchdowns scored by a tight end. Over his brilliant career, Gates averages eight touchdowns a season. He is the most reliable part of the passing game. Starting the season from week one, expecting a better statistical season than 2015 is almost a certainty as long as he stays healthy.
The Chargers did draft the heir apparent to Gates when they drafted Hunter Henry our of Arkansas with their second round pick. The 6’5″, 250-pounder was a first-team All-SEC selection and winner of the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end in 2015. Henry collected 51 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns. As sure-handed as they come, Henry did not drop a single pass last season.
Vying for a slot on the roster are Sean McGrath, Asante Cleveland, Jeff Cumberland, and undrafted free agent Matt Weiser. All fit the mold the Chargers like at standing 6’5″, 260-pounds. The most intriguing prospect may be Tim Semisch, a one-year pro who stands an imposing 6’8″, 267.
Points per-game expectation: 4
Come back tomorrow for part two of my breakdown including the wide receivers, offensive line, coaching staff and final summary. I hope you have enjoyed my analytical breakdown. Do you agree or disagree so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
The Greg One
On Wednesday, San Diego Chargers faithful everywhere held their collective breath upon hearing about Danny Woodhead getting injured in practice. On ESPN, cameras cut away to Chargers Park where it showed players huddled around Woodhead, some down on a knee around him.
The prognosis is a sprained left ankle, sustained after Woodhead was rolled up on by a defensive lineman. Woodhead was coming across on a screen when the injury happened. Woodhead was down for several anxious minuted before getting up and walking off under his own power. Head Coach Mike McCoy ended practice a couple of plays later and called an end to minicamp with one day left to go.
The Swiss Army knife of the Chargers backfield, Woodhead led the team in receiving last season with 80 receptions for 755 yards and six touchdowns. He was second to Melvin Gordon in rushing with 98 rushes for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Woodhead is an integral piece of the offense the Bolts can’t afford to lose.
The next day, a smiling Woodhead tweeted out this photo of himself in a space-age looking cryospa.
— danny woodhead (@danny__woodhead) June 16, 2016
Looks like the scare was just that. Danny is okay and we can all breathe easily now. With a month off until the start of training camp, Woodhead and the rest of the Chargers will be at full strength and ready to rumble.
Get well soon, Danny.
The Greg One
Time to take a look back at the San Diego Chargers news that made headlines this past week. The biggest news is centered around Joey Bosa. This week we learned more about why he is the only man in the first 19 first-round selections of the 2016 NFL Draft that has not yet signed a contract. Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune explains here:
Obviously, the Chargers are disappointed in Bosas’ decision to hold out of mandatory minicamp and Sean Wagner-McGough of CBSSports writes about it here. Included, video of Philip Rivers talking about his draft day experience.
From Chargers.com, the team has released eleven dates that training camp practice will be open to the public, including FanFest. Get the dates here: http://www.chargers.com/news/2016/06/17/fans-invited-11-training-camp-practices
Chargers.com also released new video of GM Tom Telesco addressing questions about the team. Watch the video here: http://www.chargers.com/video/2016/06/14/tom-telesco-talks-joey-bosa-optimism-and-keenan-allens-new-deal
The most positive news of the past week comes from the signing of blossoming star wide receiver Keenan Allen to a long-term contract. Allen is now locked in through the 2020 season. The San Diego Union-Tribune broke the story. Read the details here, courtesy of Michael Gehlken: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jun/10/chargers-sign-keenan-allen-contract-extension/
The national sports media also chimed in on the signing, beginning with Austin Knoblauch from NFL.com. Read his take here: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000668666/article/keenan-allen-chargers-agree-on-fouryear-extension
Check out this release from ESPN.com, which includes an interesting sidebar. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/16114440/keenan-allen-san-diego-chargers-agree-extension
Minicamp is over and training camp is a month away but that won’t stop the news and BoltBlitz.com will bring it to you. Thanks for reading!
The Greg One