I had the pleasure of being at the first day of Chargers training camp today. Due to the fact that there were no injuries, the only negative takeaway I have is that I am, slightly, resembling a lobster. I was offered sunscreen by my great friend, Chris Garcia ( @sportsbrain on Twitter ), yet I, regretfully, declined. I am burnt to a crisp.
But enough about me and my sunburn. There are a lot of positive takeaways from the first day of Charger training camp. One of which was getting to see Joel Price again. He runs the Chargers Twitter account – @Chargers – and you can find his personal account at @joelprice as well.
Let’s go straight to my analysis of the first day of training camp. I mean, it’s not lot the major networks are talking about it…. AT ALL!
1) Brandon Flowers is extremely aggressive. Do not let his size fool you. He was all over receivers and looked quick all practice long. He actually made me shudder on a few plays where he was right on top on Malcom Floyd. Lord knows we don’t want him to be the new Shareece Wright, in that he manages to find ways to hurt Charger players during previous training camps.
2) Donald Brown’s feet are much quicker than I expected. His ability to cut and change direction is very impressive in person. Way to go, Tom Telesco. This signing will pay dividends.
3) When watching Tevin Reese he bobbled,yet caught, and dropped, a few passes at the beginning of the day. But he finished strong by making at least three remarkable catches. There were a few other catches that were impressive as well. I am a bit concerned that he shows, at times, a propensity to not be able to secure the ball when it initially hits his hands. But his speed and quickness make him an asset to this team. Telesco made it clear that he wanted to add more speed. And he did just that with the acquisition of Reese. He made plays that other wide receivers would not be able to make.
4) Jason Verrett is great at high-pointing the ball and his instincts make you forget about his lack of height and size. Verrett is still not 100%. But watching him today makes me believe that the Chargers made an undeniably excellent choice with the 25th pick in the first round of this year’s draft. When you add in his aforementioned traits, and his quickness and speed, Jason is just what this Charger secondary needs in having a playmaker that can contribute right away.
5) These players were in on punt return duties: Tevin Reese, Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal. It would appear that, considering that Reese was the first man up to receive the first punt, the team is looking long and hard at Reese as a punt return guy. I am not a fan of using Keenan Allen back there; as most of you have read via my posts on BoltBlitz.com, tweets and Facebook posts. I refuse to be able to get behind using the team’s number one wide receiver as a punt returner. I don’t like Eddie Royal back there either. We all should be on the Tevin Reese train and hoping that he continues to produce on a consistent level.
6) Melvin Ingram had to pull up often. He was on the other side of the ball and, being a veteran, he knew that getting too close to Philip Rivers was not an option. He looks fast and ready to make an impact in 2014.
7) Marion Grice, although he didn’t look overly quick, had a few runs that reminded me of some of the tape I received from Arizona State. He also made a few catches that would make some wideouts jealous. He’s got great hands. I’m excited to see what he can do.
8) Craig Watts Jr. was effective when on the field. He needs to work on his footwork a bit, which I’ve told him via text. But his play at the point of attack will, without a doubt, land him on the practice squad. Book it. I would not be surprised if he made the 53-man roster.
9) In his time with the second and third units, Alden Darby was in the right place at the right time. His coverage was tight and I look forward to his progress once he makes the squad. Yup, he will make this team.
10) Marcus Gilchrist looks bigger, and more stout this year. His muscle mass seems more defined and it looks as though he has embraced his new role as a strong safety on the Bolts. Only time will tell.
11) Keenan Allen looks determined and focused. He absorbed all comments from coaches during today’s training camp willingly. His cuts in and out of breaks were so solid. His hands continued to prove reliable and I can’t wait to see what he can do during his sophomore campaign in 2014. Not only will there not be a sophomore slump for Allen, I see him having an even better year this season.
12) Sean Lissemore looks bigger. He created a solid push. Yes, they aren’t in full pads, but I might have been too quick to judge him as a starting nose tackle in John Pagano’s defense. Although I’d still prefer him as defensive end depth, he may be a stop-gap for the time being.
13) Philip Rivers has one of the quickest releases in the NFL. Some may question his arm strength, but he gets the ball out so fast. He is an elite quarterback and those of you that do not believe in him, you should completely reassess your evaluation.
14) Brad Sorensen was out of sync and threw behind receivers often. Fans near me wanted to credit the defensive backs for making good plays. Truth be told, he just didn’t look very impressive. Sorry to all of you that think “Sorensen is the Charger quarterback of the future,” I just don’t see it.
15) The battle at strong safety is hot and heated already. Although Marcus Gilchrist saw the starting snaps with the first team, Jahleel Addae is learning Pagano’s defense at a quick pace. I can’t wait for them to put on the pads and see what he can do. My biggest concern regarding Addae during training camp? He may hurt a fellow teammate.
16) Jeromey Clary was on the side cheering on his peers due to being on the PUP list. Johnnie Troutman saw snaps with the first team. I am not sure that is conducive to success for the offensive line, nor the offense as a whole. For those of you that are not in favor of Clary making the roster, be careful what you wish for. Be very careful.
There’s my incredibly premature breakdown after the first day of training camp for your San Diego Chargers. Be sure to leave your thoughts below and let me know what you think. I am especially interested in what you saw if you were there today to enjoy the festivities.
Thanks a lot for reading.
There are quite a few intriguing positional battles that are about to play out at Chargers Park. Training camp is right around the corner and general manager Tom Telesco has done a solid job adding depth at many different positions in all three phases of the game in San Diego.
We’ll be going over all of the camp battles as training camp approaches here on BoltBlitz.com. For the sake of this article, we’re going to take a look at the strong safety spot and look at how it could end up playing out.
When looking at the players that the Chargers currently have on the roster that are strong safeties, there’s quite a competition for the number one spot. Below are the individuals that will be battling for the starting spot and players that will be battling for playing time.
While in college at Clemson, Gilchrist played both safety and cornerback. In his first three seasons with the Bolts he has done the same thing. As a Charger, he has seen time at the outside corner position, nickel corner and strong safety. Although he has struggled at times, he did show a lot of improvement toward the end of the 2013 season.
When watching tape on Gilchrist he actually was in the right position to make more plays than his stats would indicate. He’s improved in the tackling department and seemed to settle into the strong safety role sufficiently by the end of the year. It would seem that he’ll go into 2014 as the favorite to begin the year as the starter. But that will be decided during training camp and the preseason.
As an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan, Addae was not a lock to even make the roster as a first-year player. He came in and impressed enough that not only did he earn a roster spot, he saw a serious increase in playing time as the year played out. Even as a collegiate player he showed he has a penchant for hitting. The guy will knock you out. That’s also part of the problem as well. He tends to go for the killshot as opposed to making sure that the tackle is made properly.
Though he has a lot to learn as far as coverage ability, he did show improvement throughout the year as he saw more action on the field. You noticed that he was in the right place at the right time more often than earlier in the season with more in-game experience. Despite Gilchrist most likely being the leader to take the starting job, look for Addae to push him and, perhaps, even unseat him at some point during the upcoming season.
For those of you that I have been listening to BoltBlitzLIVE on Mountain Country 107.9, hosted by yours truly, you already know a little bit about Darby. He seemed like a very impressive young man who has a good head on his shoulders. What stood out to me was that he kept reiterating that he was always willing to work hard and he would never settle for giving anything but his best effort in all that he does.
Alden is a former defensive back at Arizona State and he proved to be a playmaker while playing for the Sun Devils. Last year he managed to tally 72 total tackles, 4 interceptions ( one of which he took to the house for six ) and two forced fumbles. Darby’s impact on the game did not go unnoticed as he earned the honorary Pat Tillman practice jersey with the team. When speaking to him live on air, he absolutely did not take this honor for granted.
Similar to Addae, Alden is coming in as an undrafted free agent. But you can never have too many playmakers in the secondary. I firmly believe that he will make the 53-man roster, and, in due time, become a player that the defense can count on when he’s on the field. He can contribute immediately on special teams. He’s willing to do whatever the team asks of him. Look out for Alden Darby.
Phillips has his work cut out for him seeing as both Gilchrist and Addae are locks for the team, and the playmaking skills of Darby make him too hard to pass up on. But he also made his fair share of plays in college while playing for the Texas Longhorns. In 50 career games, 28 of which he started, Phillips finished with 206 career total tackles, 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
As a senior against West Virginia he ended up with a career-high in tackles with 11. During that same season he snagged two of his six career picks. Again, it will be very difficult for Phillips to find a spot on an already crowded Charger roster. But, if he does enough to impress the Charger coaching staff, maybe he can land a spot on the San Diego practice squad.
So there you have it. This is where you come in. Let me know what you think about the camp battle at strong safety by leaving your comments below.
Thanks a lot for reading.
On Tuesday, June 24, the Chargers announced the signing of free agent cornerback Brandon Flowers. He was released by division rival Kansas City in a salary cap move. Releasing Flowers saved the Chiefs over seven million in cap space and put a need position player in play for all who were interested.
According to reports, ten teams were interested in Flowers including the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Vikings and Falcons. Flowers made two trips, a two-day stay in San Diego and a visit to San Francisco. During his visit, Flowers cancelled his visit to Minnesota.
However, Flowers visit came and went in San Diego without a deal being reached. In the end, Brandon signed a one-year, five million dollar deal (3 million guaranteed, with a chance for two million more in incentives) to play with the Chargers. I love this signing for a number of reasons.
1. The Chargers did not break the bank to sign him. Talk around the league was Flowers was asking too much and that’s why other teams backed away. The Chargers didn’t have much bank to break with under three million in cap space at the beginning of the day yesterday leading most to believe adding Flowers would be next to impossible. The Bolts did release safety Brandon Taylor last week and a couple more will likely see their tenure in lightning bolts end but wunderkind General Manager Tom Telesco found a way to make the numbers work.
2. The Chargers add a Pro Bowl player at a position of need. All Chargers fans know the secondary has been a weak spot on the defense for years. The numbers bear it out, the Chargers were 29th in pass defense last season and for near the bottom for many seasons prior. Brandon Flowers played on Team Rice in last season’s fantasy style Pro Bowl after a season in Kansas City where he logged 68 tackles, 8 passes defensed one sack and one interception during the regular season. In the Chiefs lone playoff game he had two passes defensed and an interception. Flowers was a six-year starter for the Chiefs and has been a top-10 cornerback in the league from 2007-2012. Metrics-wise, last season was a down year for him and he still made the Pro Bowl.
3. The Chargers will have money to spend next offseason. With the last of the bad contracts coming off the books this season, the Chargers will have over 30 million in cap space to sign players. This places the onus on players on one year deals like Flowers or who are in the last year of their deals such as Mathews, Freeney and Woodhead to perform knowing if they show up and play great ball all season, they will be rewarded with long-term deals next offseason. Telesco has the season to evaluate their performances and make the best decisions personnel-wise. With that in mind, barring injury, we should see Flowers at his Pro Bowl caliber self this season and in a Chargers uniform for years to come.
4. Depth. The Chargers have eleven cornerbacks on their 90 man roster. Right now, right cornerback is returning fifth round draft pick Steve Williams, Richard Marshall, Marcus Gilchrist, Brandon Jones and Brandon Ghee. At left cornerback the incumbents are Shareece Wright, Marcus Cromartie and first round draft pick Jason Verrett. Verrett is rehabbing from a shoulder injury and may miss some of training camp.
Flowers skill set fits the Chargers scheme like a glove. He’ll have to earn his spot in the starting rotation but his presence allows the Chargers to bring along Verrett at their own pace. Flowers will undoubtedly be in the starting lineup on day one of the regular season in my opinion. Add to the mix promising UDFA’s who are turning heads in camp such as ASU’s Alden Darby and Auburn’s Chris Davis and the Chargers finally have a surplus of cornerback talent instead of a deficit at the position.
5. Motivation. Aside from the potential long-term monetary gain next year, Flowers gets to stay in the AFC West and gain revenge on the team that dumped him, Kansas City. The Chargers have always had trouble with Chiefs number one wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and Flowers knows better than anyone how to cover him. He’s familiar with all the AFC West talent as the best cornerback on the Chiefs roster for six years, he’s usually charged with covering the other team’s best receiver. Add to the fact he gets a million dollar bonus if the team makes the AFC Championship game and Flowers has plenty of reason to be at his best this season.
Taking a strength from a division rival can’t be understated. The Chargers swept the Chiefs last season and taking their best cornerback widens the gap in talent between the two teams. At 28 years old, Flowers has plenty left to give and to teach to the young corners on the roster the Chargers will rely on in the future such as Verrett, Williams, Gilchrist and Wright. Flowers isn’t a veteran living off former glory. He played on the winning team in the Pro Bowl last season. The Chargers haven’t had a Pro Bowl cornerback since Antonio Cromartie in 2008. Flowers wasn’t pulled off the MASH unit of another team, he’s uninjured and ready to play. Flowers and is a plug and play addition to the roster and the secondary just improved greatly with him on the roster.
Are you excited to see Flowers in lightning bolts?
The Greg One
I have had the pleasure of talking with some of the Charger players this offseason via this website and my new radio show BoltBlitzLIVE. There is a common theme among the words of each and every player that I’ve spoken with or interviewed. A word that comes up in every conversation.
The new regime in San Diego has put an emphasis on the 2014 Chargers being like a family. In fact, they truly view themselves as a family. This type of approach allows the players to bond and become that much closer. The fact that Mike McCoy has put such a mantra in place just goes to show you how much he cares about the players and the organization.
Charger rookies Craig Watts Jr and Alden Darby couldn’t say enough about how the Chargers are a family. They both reiterated multiple times the Bolts organization is really focused on providing a family like atmosphere in an effort to succeed. The same can be said from other current Chargers that have asked to stay off the record. This is a family. The camaraderie at Chargers Park is something that I believe will lead to a successful season in 2014 and beyond.
To think of this new mentality in San Diego versus the old regime and the way that things used to be handled is very exciting. A breath of fresh air is exactly what this organization needed. Tom Telesco, with the help of McCoy, has assembled a team of “we players.” They have gotten rid of the “me players.” This is no longer a team of individuals. This is a family, a unit of one.
There’s a lot to be excited about in America’s finest city regarding your San Diego Chargers. This is no longer the country club setting that former Charger Antonio Garay mentioned while in studio on BoltBlitzLIVE two Wednesdays ago. The bar has been set much higher and the level of expectation has been increased ten-fold.
The excitement going forward is exponential and I look forward to this family working together to obtain that one common goal. That goal, you ask? It’s what all fans, players, and members of the coaching staff and organization strive for each and every year. It’s the ultimate achievement in the NFL. That one trophy that has a gleam. It may not happen this year, but I am starting to believe that a Vince Lombardi trophy will soon be placed in a glass case at Chargers Park.
Why do I have such lofty thoughts about the Chargers? Because when you have the undying support of your family members, there is nothing that you can’t achieve. I know this from personal experience. Look out for the Charger “family” making strides toward greatness for years to come.
Family. That has a nice ring to it. Hopefully a Super bowl ring.
I have never done this before, but this post was a comment left by Nick Colonna on one of our articles on BoltBlitz.com. After checking with Nick, I’ve decided to post it so that more Charger fans get a look at what I find to be a very solid outlook on the Charger draft class. Enjoy.
I am guilty of making mock drafts way too early each year. Once the Superbowl is over, I dive straight into big boards, college tape, highlight reels, and start making my own mocks. I completed a full 7 round mock, addressing all 32 teams’ needs along the way. This made it pretty interesting after the real NFL Draft. I got to see where the Chargers’ talent was rated when I started doing mocks, and a final one a week before the actual draft. So to analyze, I’ll go through all our (Chargers) picks and a couple of undrafted free agents and say how they were ranked overall in comparison to all the guys coming out of college.
Chargers Draft 2014
Round 1: Jason Verrett, CB, 20th overall on my big board. I absolutely love Jason Verrett. His only knock is his size which is something he more than makes up for with his vertical, explosiveness, quickness, ball skills. I’ve always been a fan of Brent Grimes and Verrett reminds me of him. Short guy who plays big.
Round 2: Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, 33rd overall on my big board. A pass rush specialist who gets to learn from Freeney, pretty happy about that. Freeney contract is up at the end of this year and Johnson is getting up there in age, this pick (as long as it pans out) will solidify our starting OLBs for years to come (That’s if Ingram stays at OLB of course).
Round 3: Chris Watt, G, 146th overall on my big board. This pick caught me off guard (no pun intended) only because I thought there was value with other guys at this point. However, Watt could potentially be the replacement for Hardwick when he retires or the replacement for Clary or Rinehart if/when they leave. Jerome Watson, whom many fans of the Bolts know, broke his tape down in a great article which convinced me that this pick was alright.
Round 4: Traded away but we kind of got it back with a certain UDFA. I’ll get to that later.
Round 5: Ryan Carrethers, NT, 113th overall on my big board. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I had Keenan Allen flashbacks in the 3rd round. I kind of feel as if the Chargers were waiting on Louis Nix to continue his fall and they’d snatch him up in the 3rd round. A 1st round talent with issues so his draft stock plummeted. When Houston picked him, they went ahead and grabbed someone else they had targeted. My personal theory during draft day, I could be (and probably am) completely wrong. When I saw that Carrethers was still on the board in the 5th, I knew he’d be the pick. A big, strong, hole-plugging nose tackle who was surprisingly productive in college.
Round 6: Marion Grice, RB, 173rd overall on my big board. A TD machine who can do damage in the return game. This pick and the Donald Brown signing (ESPECIALLY the Donald Brown signing) felt like the beginning of the end for Mathews. It’ll be interesting to see how Grice is used with Brown, Mathews, and Woodhead already in rotation. Once injuries arise, he’ll be a key asset.
Round 7: Tevin Reese, WR. 246th overall on my big board. A speedster who will more-than-likely be fielding returns during OTAs and the preseason. If he can work on his catching, he could be a nice deep threat. He is very raw and needs work. Much like all late round picks, low risk, high reward.
Jeremiah Sirles, OT, 257th on my big board. If Dunlap/Harris can’t stay healthy for all 16 games, the Chargers are going to need another tackle to hold down the position. He has the size (6’6″, 315 lbs) but lacks fluid movement and explosiveness. NFL.com’s draft profile notes he “takes to coaching and is an extremely hard worker;” something the Chargers organization wants out of football players.
Alden Darby, SS, 218th on my big board. I love Jahleel Addae at SS but the Chargers could always more DB help (much like the o-line situation). Darby can play any DB position making him extremely versatile. He’s overcome a lot of adversity (grew up in a very bad neighborhood) and has continued to. He works extremely hard, was a team leader, had the honor of wearing the Pat Tillman jersey in practice (hard work and leadership) and has make-it intangibles that could resonate with a coaching staff and inspire a locker room (NFL.com).
Chris Davis, CB, 115th overall on my big board. This guy is the 4th round talent I was talking about. Most know him for his game against Alabama. He’s a very talented punt returner. According to CBSsports.com, he has “very good balance, elusiveness and vision to set up blocks with the ball in his hands as was evidenced in his kick-six return to beat Alabama.” Not only that, Davis can excel in the defensive scheme the Chargers run. He’s not a man-to-man guy, but can be great in a zone heavy scheme. I will be watching him a lot this offseason on TV and at Chargers Park during open practices.
Thanks go out to Nick for contributing this post to the site. He doesn’t know it yet, but he won the Manti Te’o autographed picture for his comment and allowance for the site to use it as a post.
The second the Commissioner closes the NFL Draft after “Mr. Irrelevant” is named a feeding frenzy begins. Instead of having to wait for your turn 1 by 1, it is now open season on hundreds of players. A team almost has to have more of a game-plan going into the UDFA period after the draft than they do for the draft itself. With all 32 teams suddenly now fighting over mostly the same players all at the same time, the stakes get a lot higher.
The stakes are also higher for these players. Many of them had hopes of being drafted, others just looking for a chance. No matter what their situation is, Undrafted Free Agents all start with a chip on their shoulder because unlike most of the draftee’s, they are still in a knockdown, drag-out fight for their dreams.
With that said, before draft weekend finished the Chargers had signed 17 UDFA’s and invited 10 additional players to come try-out at mini-camp. So out of these 27 players are there any worth keeping? Any diamonds in the rough that could beat the odds and find a spot?
The Chargers have had pretty good luck with UDFA’s as recently as last year with scrappy SS Jahleel Addae who became a starter on our defense by the end of the season.
Lets take a look at a few names of guys I think might push for a spot on the roster or practice squad.
Alden Darby SS ASU 5’10 194lbs
Darby is a do-it-all safety who isn’t afraid to tackle but also has the range and skill to help in the pass game. In 3 years as a starter for ASU Darby amassed 203 tackles including 8.5 TFL and 2 sacks. In pass defense he grabbed 10 int and 22 PD. He doesn’t have the hard hitting style that Addae fly’s around with, but he is better in pass coverage. He will provide competition for Addae and Brandon Taylor who is coming off injury (again). My Prediction: Practice Squad. With how often our DB’s seem to get injured keeping an extra Safety on the PS would be nice.
Javontee Herndon WR Ark 6’0 207lbs
The Chargers grabbed a few WR’s as UDFA’s and the one I think has the best chance to stick somewhere based purely on physical abilities and experience is Herndon. He is coming from the SEC, which has some very tough defenses, and averaged over 14 YPC for his entire college career. He also showed some nice numbers at his pro-day running a 4.44 in the 40, a 6.87 in the 3-cone and 23 reps of 225. My Prediction: Practice Squad. The Chargers like to keep 2 or 3 WR’s close by since our WR’s are usually made of paper so Herndon gets an offer for the PS.
Tenny Palepoi DL Utah 6’1 1/2″ 298lbs
Tenny only played 2 years at Utah but displayed some playmaking ability while there. After the departure of Star Lotulelei* last year Utah coaches expected a sharp drop off in the quality of play from their defensive line. It didn’t. Utah coaching staff has credited Palepoi’s play with keeping up the level of play after the departure of Lotulelei. As a starter last year Palepoi managed 53 tackles, 9.5 TFL and 4.5 sacks from an interior DL position. He showcased his athleticism at the combine where he looked very fluid in drills and displayed explosion posting a 9’3″ broad jump and 30 1/2″ vertical at 300lbs. My Prediction: Practice Squad. I only say practice squad because the team seems enamored with both Lawrence Guy and Sean Lissemore. However if there is an injury or if the team wants to keep an extra player active on the DL this year he might get the extra spot.
Gustave “John” Benthin DL Western Oregon 6’2 299lbs
Benthin is exactly what the Chargers need on the DL. He has played every position on the DL through his career at Western Oregon. He is extremely explosive (36 reps of 225, 35″ vert and 9’3″ broad jump at 299lbs). And my favorite, he plays like a bully. Just look at some of his highlights from the 2012 season and 2013 season . From the first play in the first video just watch how he bullies offensive linemen when he gets ahold of them. I’d love to see him in short yardage situations as a blocking FB. My Prediction: Same as Palepoi. He is not an UDFA, he just has a try-out invite. I think he gets a contract and will be on the practice squad, if not the active roster due to his versatility. He will have to prove he can maintain that dominance against higher levels of competition since he is coming from the GNAC conference but I think he does.
A few other names to keep your eye out for in practice:
Chris Davis CB Auburn – Lead the SEC in punt return avg last year and ran back the missed field goal at the end of the Iron Bowl.
Alvin Scioneaux OLB Wofford – Very athletic OLB. Undersized at 6’2 225lbs, think a poor man’s Ryan Shazier or Lavonte David. Explosive first step and has the range and football IQ to drop back occasionally. Brings a new level of speed to the LB Corps. Could be a Darryl Gamble type player in the pre-season that you want to root for. Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSn11ObdLQs
Colton Underwood OLB Illinois St – Big, athletic LB. In 45 games played he had 44 TFL and 21.5 Sacks. Quick off the edge and disruptive in the backfield. Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_pdof5LM_I
Blake Oliaro OLB/DE San Diego University – Local kid who used his length and great moves to amass 30 sacks and 40.5 TFL in his college career. Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUznkXgB-t4