Exit, Reggie Walker…enter Shaq Thompson?
Walker was a versatile linebacker for the San Diego Chargers who lined up inside, outside and on special teams. He
signed with the Denver Broncos in the offseason. There’s always a need for another defender. Could Thompson fit the bill?
Weight: 228 pounds
40 yard Dash: 4.64 seconds
Thompson was a triple threat player at the University of Washington. As a defender, the former Huskie compiled 81 tackles and four takeaways (all returned for scores). He is aggressive, agile and instinctive. His vision and ability to read action quickly make him effective as a blitzer, even though he is not an explosive hitter. Offensively, Thompson toted the ball 61 times for 456 yards and two touchdowns.
Shaq Thompson received the Paul Hornung Trophy for being the most versatile player in the nation in 2014. Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, who likes to mix up his schemes, could use Thompson in a hybrid linebacker-safety role. No matter where he lines up, he will be fun to watch.
What are your thoughts on Thompson trotting out onto the field in lightning bolts? Share your comments, please, and thanks for reading!
The faces of the San Diego Chargers have most recently been Philip Rivers for the offense and Eric Weddle for the defense. Don’t get me wrong, these two have done a stellar job at leading their counterparts and mentoring incoming talent, but unsung frontrunners such as center Nick Hardwick and outside linebacker Jerret Johnson have recently announced their retirement and that grants some empty leadership slots to be filled. Addressing the elephant in the room – can Donald Butler step up and fill the void? Ultimately, it’s not a question if he can, rather his duty to step in and drive.
The 2014 campaign was not a pretty one for Butler who was recently signed to a multi-year deal just the previous season. Watching him wasn’t what it used to be and his uninspiring attitude was hard to overlook.
Of course the blame can be put on the injury stricken defense, but all excuses aside, Butler now needs to become a true leader. Not last year, not yesterday, but starting now.
Butler will enter the 2015 season after recovering from a season ending elbow injury. Moving forward, the limelight is now on his work ethic. Injury is arguably the number one reason players never return to form, so it’s imperative that Butler works hard and proves to his teammates he is willing to put in the work. The Bolts are going to need him completely healthy and 100% ready to go next season.
I hate to bring this up, but the Miami game last year was by far one of the worst games in San Diego history. The 37-0 deficit was enough to bring the team moral to its lowest, and Butler was the main contributor. There’s no need to beat a dead horse, but you get the drift. Butler’s leadership should encompass morale which will allow him to be the go-to guy when spirits are low. Tenacity and optimism are the key ingredients to keeping the flame lit.
Lastly, there needs to be more production on the football field. Butler finished last year with only 45 total tackles, 1 sack, and no interceptions or forced fumbles. If the Chargers’ talented linebackers need any type of leadership, it’s going to have to start with Butler’s efforts. By all means, last year’s stats were nothing to brag about. Yet on the other hand, I’m confident he will improve his productivity. Teammates such as Manti Te’o, Andrew Gachkar, and Jerry Attaochu need Butler’s guidance.
Leadership is easily mentioned, yet tough to execute. Donald Butler doesn’t need to step up, it’s his duty. In order to accomplish greater things in 2015, the Chargers need his direction. With a new linebackers coach and new season, it’s safe to assume that Butler will have the chance to fill the void.
In case you slept through Friday, unplugged for the day or live under a rock, you’ve heard Kansas City’s QB Alex Smith won’t play Sunday against the Chargers due to a lacerated spleen. What you may have missed is that this does not change anything on Sunday.
Chase Daniel, Kansas City’s backup QB, will start in Alex Smith’s place. Last year, with a playoff berth already secured, Daniel started the season finale in San Diego with 19 other backups, a game in which the Chargers narrowly escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory. In that game, Daniel connected on 21 of 30 pass attempts for 200 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Jamal Charles sat out that game, but Knile Davis ran 27 times for 81 yards. Daniel added 59 yards of his own on the ground.
That said, a Charger victory in this season’s regular season finale in Kansas City is not a foregone conclusion. Last year, everyone said that with KC’s backups, it would be a cake game. Far be it from me to throw ice water on the pom pom parade, but a loss in Kansas City ends the 2014 season for San Diego. Lock, stock and barrel.
The key to this game is in the hands of John Pagano and the Charger defense. In all reality, the game plan should remain the same: stop Jamal Charles and you stop the KC offense. Make the quarterback beat you. Rewind to Week 16 in San Francisco. Take away Colin Kaepernick’s 90-yard run in the 3rd quarter which featured glaring whiffs by both Melvin Ingram and Eric Weddle, the defense made the right adjustments and stymied San Francisco’s running game.
Easier said than done
How to stop Charles, you ask? It’s easier said than done, but Pagano needs to put eight in the box. These eight men (front-7 plus the aforementioned Weddle) need to maintain gap discipline. The front three need to tie blockers up (HINT: Chargers need a stud NT like they had in Jamal Williams). ILBs Mantei T’eo, Donald Butler, Andrew Gachkar and Kavell Conner need to be clean and crisp in their tackling. Whiffs cannot happen. And the proper angles toward opposing ball carriers must be taken.
Billy, don’t be a hero
Chargers defenders need to tackle, tackle and tackle some more. Heroism is not appropriate, and may be idiotic when it comes to proper tackling. First man, or two, to get a hand on the ball carrier need to wrap him up, then let the cavalry come in for the strip. All too often, it seems the first man to the runner goes for the ball instead of the tackle. Get the runner on the ground, limit the big plays and play for the third down stop.
Secondly, stop the pass
Concussion protocols notwithstanding, Shareece Wright needs to take a back seat to Steve Williams. Against San Francisco, the ball was thrown in Williams’ direction six times for three completions and a pedestrian 15 yards. I think it’s safe to say that’s a better performance than Wright has produced. With eight in the box, the Chargers’ corners and safeties, Flowers and Williams/Wright/Gilchrist/Addae, et al. will have to play press man coverage. The defense is better when Pagano employs press coverage.
The key to beating the Chiefs and advancing to the postseason is to stop Jamal Charles. It’s that simple, kids. Force Chase Daniel, with limited reps, to have to try to beat the Chargers. Do this, and they’ll advance to the Wild Card Round.
Thanks for reading!
Heading into the 2014 season, the San Diego Chargers looked incredibly promising; even with one of the most difficult schedules in the league. General Manager, Tom Telesco, worked extremely hard in the offseason in order to add depth to the roster; even with an extremely small salary cap. To be specific, Telesco only had roughly $625,000 left in cap space after paying the offensive, defensive, and special teams’ salaries; the dead money hit alone was $16,335,000. Even under those circumstances, Telesco was able to beef up the backfield with multiple running backs, regain some game changing defensive players, and added a very talented draft class to the roster. Yet, the season didn’t play out as most expected when the pandemic of injuries hit the Chargers team. At that point, the motto “next man up” was adopted.
The next man up is a phrase that most professional teams technically want to reframe from using; it essentially indicates the starter is unable to play and another player has to fill in. Yet, the Chargers have embraced it since week one. Pro Bowler center, Nick Hardwick, was placed on injured reserve after the Arizona match-up, granting center Rich Ohrnberger the starting role. However, Ohrnberger struggled with injuries, forcing the Chargers to sign guard, Doug Legursky. Not even a month later, Legursky was placed on injured reserve, leaving an ailing Ohrnberger and rookie guard Chris Watt as the next men up. It doesn’t stop there, Ohrnberger was added to the growing injured reserve roster and Watt held the starting role at center. Who would have thought that Watt would then leave the Baltimore Ravens game with a calf injury; leaving the Chargers with their fifth center to play, Trevor Robinson.
The center position wasn’t the only one to face heartache. During the second week against the Seattle Seahawks, star running back Ryan Mathews sprained his MCL and was expected to miss a significant amount of time. If you ever think that lighting doesn’t strike twice, think again. The follow week, running back Danny Woodhead was placed on injured reserve due to a season ending leg injury. The originally stacked backfield wasn’t looking so stacked anymore and the Chargers soon expected undrafted rookie running back, Branden Oliver “Bo”, to fill in. Not only did he fill in, he impressed the entire league with over 215 rushing yards and three touchdowns in week’s five and six; awarding him with Pepsi’s Rookie of the Week in week 5. To add depth, Telesco brought back veteran running back Ronnie Brown who spent last year on the Chargers active roster.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Third year linebacker, Melvin Ingram, was placed on the Reserve-Injured list with the designation to return after suffering a hip injury in week two. The next week, second year linebacker Manti Te’o suffered a fractured foot which sidelined him until week eleven. Already missing two starting linebackers, rookie linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu was ailing a hamstring injury which limited his productivity and playing time. Again, next man up, fourth year linebacker Andrew Gachkar filled in for his injured teammates. Not only did he bring passion and fire to the field, he was able to accumulate 7 stuffs, 21 total tackles, and a fumble recovery.
Gachkar wasn’t the only one to step in, outside linebacker Cordarro Law has stepped up when given the green light. An undrafted free agent in 2012, Law signed with the Chargers in February of 2014. Spending much of his time on the practice squad, Law continues to get the job done. With veteran outside linebacker Dwight Freeney becoming a free agent after this season, there’s a no question that Law can earn a 53-man active roster spot if he continues the hard work he puts in.
Starting at cornerback was the Chargers first round draft pick, Jason Verrett. Impressively, he was making a contending run for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year by week 9. However, just after the bye week, Verrett was placed on injured reserve due to a torn labrum. At this point, you might be asking, “How does an NFL survive all these injures?” and the answer again is simply, next man up.
Not only has the offense and defense suffered from the injury bug, but the special teams took a big blow a few weeks ago. One of the league’s top punters, Mike Scifres, broke his clavicle during the New England Patriot Game; forcing Nick Novak, who had not punted a ball since high school, to take on the punting duties for the remainder of the game. Much can be said about a player filling in for a position they have no training on, but Novak impressed with what little he was given. Shortly after, Pro Bowl punter, Mat McBriar, was signed to replace Scifres. McBriar was a mentor to Darren Bennett, the Chargers longtime punter who preceded Scifres. He brings to the punting unit an average of 45.1 yards per attempt with 201 landing inside the 20.
The next man up saying isn’t exclusive to sidelining injuries, rather those playing through the bumps and bruises; quarterback Philip Rivers is a prime example. It’s no secret that El Capitan has been playing through some bruised ribs and a sore back. Along with Rivers, brute defensive end Corey Liuget is also playing through injuries. Just the other day, Liuget was seen sporting a walking boot; most commonly used to keep the player mobile as much as possible, yet still protecting the injured structure. Although these top Charger players give us a heart attack when we don’t see them at practice, they still show up on game day ready to get the win.
Heading into week 16, the Chargers are faced with more anguish. Veteran linebacker Donald Butler was placed on injured reserve after suffering a dislocated elbow against the Denver Broncos last week. A day later, it was announced that second year wide receiver, Keenan Allen, suffered a broken collarbone and ankle injury. With San Diego fighting for their lives to earn a spot into the post-season, the next man up motto is being used more than ever. In the much-needed win against the San Francisco 49ers, expected to be active is tight end Ladarius Green, wide receiver Seyi Ajurotutu, and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Let’s not forget the impact Branden Oliver and Donald Brown need to make against the stealthy 49ers defense as Mathews recovers from an ankle injury suffered in week 14.
Many would think that it’s impossible that a team could possibly have an 8-6 record with all the injures the Chargers have accrued this year. With nine players on injured reserve and a few other active roster injuries, any team would have faulted and given up hopes by now. Yet, these are the San Diego Super Chargers; the underdog, the dark horse, and let’s not forget the team that no one ever expects much from. It’s alright, the Chargers still have a chance at the post-season and the opportunity to prove that anything can be done. The next man up motto has been the staple of the organization all year, but why stop now? The season isn’t even close to being over…
¿Qué se puede decir? Casi nos da un ataque! Un partido que estuvo muy reñido y donde se vio que ambos equipos tenían esperanzas de llevarse la victoria. Es exactamente lo que se vio el domingo pasado en el Estadio Qualcomm, en la hermosa ciudad de San Diego, donde mas de 66,000 aficionados apreciaron un partido que, simplemente, se puede describir en una sola palabra: Cardiaco.
Desde el primer minuto se veía que iba a ser un encuentro que iba a dar mucho de que platicar, y mucho de que disfrutar. La escuadra relámpago se veía con mucha energía, mucho espíritu y seguridad como equipo en general, algo que no se había visto en los encuentros contra Miami y Oakland. Y a pesar de grandes errores que hubo en varios momentos del juego, los Chargers, con trabajo en equipo, buenas estrategias y un buen de suerte, lograron llevarse la victoria 27-24 contra San Luis.
Ahora a recapitular, como en cada semana, algunas notas importantes sobre el juego:
Ryan Mathews Está De Vuelta!
Vaya que se nota como un jugador lesionado afecta el juego terrestre. La ausencia de Ryan Mathews se vio por varias semanas, y ahora con su regreso, parece ser que está en sus mejores momentos. Tuvo un total de 102 yardas, un promedio de 8.8 yardas por carrera, la más larga de 32 yardas, la cuál culminó en un touchdown. El #24 esta de vuelta y con muchas ganas de dar su todo durante el juego, solo esperemos que no se vuelva a lesionar.
“El Capitán” Mostró Vida Durante Todo el Juego
Excluyendo la decepcionante intercepción por parte de Janoris Jenkins de los Rams, Philip Rivers estuvo espectacular durante el encuentro. Mostraba energía, utilizó una buena estrategia durante el juego, y tuvo control de los pases que quería hacer (otra vez, excluyendo la intercepción) Con un total de 35 intentos, de esos, 29 completados, 291 yardas y un rating de 98.9, nuestro capitán no mostraba ninguna señal de demora o lesión.
¿Problemas Al Recibir Balones Pateados?
A la mejor estoy exagerando, pero creo que los Chargers son el único equipo en la NFL ahorita que no puede correr el balón después de recibirlo, ya sea por despeje o después de una anotación del otro equipo. Un total de 3 touchbacks durante el partido, incluyendo varias capturas libres. La única esperanza de posibles corridas fue por parte de Chris Davis, quien intentó correr el balón en 2 ocasiones, y en ambas logró más de 20 yardas. Sin embargo, Davis fue participe de un grave error, al chocar con Keenan Allen en el recibimiento del balón, y dejando que los Rams recuperaran el balón. El error se corrigió por parte de Allen jugadas después con un touchdown, sin embargo, son errores que pudieron haber modificado el resultado del juego de forma drástica.
Mike Scifres y Nick Novak = Estelar!
Ya hemos comentado en varias ocasiones que el dúo dinámico de Scifres y Novak, a quien yo llamo por buen gusto “S&N”, son dos jugadores clave de la escuadra relámpago. Scifres hizo cuatro patadas de despeje, por un total de 197 yardas, un promedio de 38.3 yardas por patada, y la más larga de 55. Novak, por su parte, demostró otra vez que el toma ventaja de cada momento para patear, con dos goles de campo exitosos, uno de 23 yardas, y el segundo 48 para cerrar la primera mitad. Interesante como la diferencia en el resultado final fue un gol de campo (3 puntos), entonces debemos agradecer que tenemos un pateador estelar como Novak.
Un Mejor Desempeño Por Parte de La Defensiva
Sigue habiendo detalles como en cualquier línea defensiva, pero se debe aplaudir la estupenda participación y desempeño de los jugadores. Aprovecharon cada oportunidad dada para hacer una jugada, y vaya que dieron varios momentos de alegría para la afición relámpago. Brandon Flowers se lució nuevamente con una gran intercepción en el primer cuarto, a pesar de perder el balón, que fue recuperado por Melvin Ingram. Otra gran jugada fue por parte Corey Liuget que forzó un fumble, recuperado por Andrew Gachkar, quien corrió para sumar 6 puntos al marcador de los Chargers. Darrell Stuckey también tomó ventaja al bloquear un gol de campo por parte de los Rams. Pero sin embargo, la jugada más inesperada, y una que dejó a casi, si no a todo aficionado con la boca abierta, fue la intercepción por parte de Marcus Gilchrist, a un minuto de terminar el juego. Sin duda se vio un buen trabajo en equipo por parte de la defensiva.
Sin duda un partido cardiaco, pero deja las esperanzas de que nuestro gran equipo logre llegar a los Playoffs, o como le decimos acá en México, la “liguilla de la NFL”…quiero pensar que si le dicen así.
Bueno, en conclusión, para mi percepción fue un partido muy intenso, pero entretenido. La adrenalina estuvo a todo dar por parte de ambos equipos y ambas aficiones, y los Chargers lograron la victoria. Considerando que mi cumpleaños fue el día siguiente del partido, fue un buen regalo de cumpleaños. Ahora los Chargers se enfrentan el próximo domingo contra Baltimore, lo que será un encuentro muy interesante y contra un fuerte rival, sin embargo, en el juego del fútbol americano, todo puede suceder.
– José “Joe” Martinez
San Diego is locked and loaded after resting through their bye week. League-mandated days off allowed them to travel or just stay home and rest. Because it was the bye week, I began to think about the current team and who would remain in 2015. I figured I would check out who was in the last year of their contract and who was extended beyond the 2015 season.
The list of players in the final year of their contracts, otherwise known as their contract year, was a bit longer than I had anticipated. Below is a list of those players.
WR – Seyi Ajirotutu
RB – Ronnie Brown
OT – King Dunlap
CB – Brandon Flowers
OLB – Dwight Freeney
ILB – Andrew Gachkar
CB – Marcus Gilchrist
C – Nick Hardwick
OLB – Cordarro Law
C/G – Doug Legursky
DL – Ricardo Mathews
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger
WR – Eddie Royal
CB – Shareece Wright
RB – Ryan Mathews
There are some major players on this list that would leave major holes in the team if they were not re-signed.
Brandon Flowers was one of the best free agent signings in the entire NFL after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs. He has made a huge impact in the secondary for John Pagano’s defense. I would imagine that Tom Telesco would make a serious effort to sign him to a contract once the time comes in 2015.
King Dunlap has been playing pretty darn well at left tackle. The only problem with keeping him is that he may be looking to be rewarded with a big contract due to his performance since coming to San Diego. Telesco will have the most money he’s had since accepting the role of General Manager when the 2015 offseason begins. If Dunlap keeps playing at a high level, there’s a good chance that he will remain a Charger.
Can you imagine the special teams units without Seyi Ajirotutu and Andrew Gachkar? Darrell Stuckey may be the captain of the third phase of the game, but both Tutu and Gachkar are key cogs in the coverage phases of special teams. Andrew has seen a big increase in playing time at inside linebacker due to the fractured foot of Manti Te’o. He has been playing his heart out.
The sorting out of the center position next year is very interesting. With Nick Hardwick on injured-reserve, Rich Ohrnberger fighting back problems, Chris Watt has seen some time at center. Both Nick and Rich will be free agents at the beginning of the 2015 league year. Hardwick has already contemplated retirement in years past. It is hard to say if we have seen the last of him in lightning bolts. Or maybe it isn’t. Many people do not expect him to come back. Watt may be the future at either center or right guard. The center spot will be something to keep an eye on following 2014.
Eddie Royal has proven to be a playmaker and solid weapon for Philip Rivers. He also sees a lot of time as the team’s punt returner. He has a solid relationship with Rivers and he helped in the recruiting of Flowers to the Bolts. He is good in the slot and he provides a contrasting style to that of starting wideouts Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd. I have a feeling that he may be re-signed.
Marcus Gilchrist is currently San Diego’s starting strong safety. After moving from cornerback to his current position, Gilchrist has made some plays but he isn’t necessarily irreplaceable. Some media members expected him to be a possible cut during the 2014 offseason. If the play of Jahleel Addae continues on the upswing, and he gets fully healthy, the chances of Marcus being re-signed may decrease exponentially.
While examining the corner situation, Shareece Wright is another starter that is in his contract year. He has improved quite a bit since coming into the league. If the Chargers are unable to keep Brandon Flowers, Wright is almost guaranteed to remain a Charger in 2015 and beyond. But if both Flowers and Jason Verrett are other available options, I’m not so sure that Shareece stays in America’s finest city. I hope that he does as I enjoy watching his physicality in the running game and his coverage skills continue to get better as he becomes more experienced in the NFL.
This next one is the toughest one for me. I don’t even like writing about this subject when it comes to this player.
Let me begin by saying that I hope Ryan Mathews remains a Charger for life. He is, without a doubt, the best back on the current roster and his hard-charging, physical running style makes the San Diego offense better. He had a fantastic 2013 year in which he finished seventh in the league in rushing yardage. His MCL sprain in week 2 against Seattle has really affected the Charger offense. He is about to return and do everything in his power to help earn a future contract with the Bolts. He is a threat as a receiving option out of the backfield and he has improved as a pass blocker when called upon to do so in effort to keep Rivers clean and safe while in the pocket.
There are a lot of questions surrounding which players will be re-signed for 2015 and beyond. It goes without saying that the extra cap space Telesco will have should help in retaining the guys that he believes deserve to stay. The question is, who does he want to keep? He has quite some time to think this over. But there are going to be a lot of difficult decisions.
Thanks a lot for reading.
There’s an Amber Alert out at Chargers Park. Donald Butler is missing. I don’t know if there’s a reward for information as to his whereabouts, but if you do see him, please show him the way to the team facility.
There’s been some guy on the Chargers defense wearing #56, but that really isn’t THE Donald Butler, but some imposter. I say this because it’s quite apparent the real Donald Butler, the captain of the defense and impact player has been absent.
The guy wearing #56 is putting up career norms in terms of tackles, but there’s no impact. No game changing presence. That guy out there looks pedestrian. Sometimes he looks lost, and other times looks just straight up stupid — does the Personal Foul call when Ronnie Hillman was on the ground on both knees and #56 speared him ring a bell?
As an inside linebacker, one of the responsibilities is to keep an eye on the backfield and watch for the improvisational run on pass plays. That just hasn’t happened as the likes of Carson Palmer and Alex Smith got big gains on the Charger defense when the pass wasn’t there. Inside linebackers provide run support and drop into pass coverage as well. He and his partner, be it Kavell Conner, Andrew Gachkar or Mantei T’eo are responsible for the back out of the backfield and, at times, the tight end. There have been too many times receivers come clean over the middle or the back comes uncovered out in the flat. This has to be cleaned up if our boys are going to make a serious run at the post season tournament. Butler has to come out of hiding.
I had the opportunity to talk briefly with his former mentor, Takeo Spikes on SiriusXM NFL Radio Saturday afternoon and he agreed. Spikes stopped himself short of saying Butler is off to a slow start this year, but did say “he just needs to play his role.” But Spikes added, “When you’re a linebacker, you’re responsible for everything going on around you.”
Butler wears the headset and is captain of the defense. As such, he is responsible for making sure the other 10 guys are in the right position. He’s responsible for making the pre-snap adjustments as the opposing offense audibles, goes in motion or changes the formation.
Spikes went on to say that, in that role, sometimes a player mentally tries to do too much and winds up not making the plays he needs to make. When Butler and Spikes played next to each other, Butler’s role was to make plays with only 10% of the mental “responsibility” for others. Takeo wore the headset when he played for the Bolts. He also said that he’s been waiting for T’eo to show up, and alluded to his absence might be part of the issue as Spikes isn’t working with the top of the depth chart at his side.
Spikes did not say that any of this is definitely the cause of his lack of impact on the defense. He said he doesn’t know what the cause is as he hasn’t spoken with him recently, but offered up possible scenarios. He did say that Butler does need to spend more time worrying about himself and not “worrying about everyone else.”
Right now, it’s safe to say the Butler didn’t do it.
It is getting pretty depressing writing about the Charger’s injury report. The team has been banged up from the start of the 2014 season and its backups have been forced into starting roles at an alarming frequency.
Next man up.
Tom Telesco has done a solid job adding depth in his first two years as general manager of the San Diego Chargers. That depth has been tested early and often. Reserves like Branden Oliver have been thrust into key roles and he has been a strong contributor to the Charger running game. No one expected to see Andrew Gachkar play so many snaps on defense as he has been splitting time with another reserve, Kavell Conner.
The defensive secondary has been reshuffled as well. Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett and Shareece Wright have all missed time due to injuries. Eric Weddle is a constant on the back-end, but it is difficult for him to quarterback the defense with so many different combinations of players on his side of the ball.
The San Diego offensive line has been marred by injuries. The center position has seen 4 different starters in the early portion of this year. That is not exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to building cohesion among the hogs upfront. The right guard spot has seen turnover too. Both Johnnie Troutman and rookie Chris Watt have played the position.
It is no secret that the running backs have been hit incredibly hard by the injury bug. Danny Woodhead is out for the year with a broken fibula while Ryan Mathews is still nursing an MCL sprain. The severity of Donald Brown’s concussion is unknown, but due to missing the last three weeks, the concern is mounting that he might not even make it back onto the field in 2014. Heck, Ronnie Brown has even returned to the Chargers to help supplement the mash unit that is the San Diego ball carrier group.
Below is the week 7 injury report for the Bolts.
RB – Donald Brown ( Concussion )
CB – Brandon Flowers ( Concussion )
RB – Ryan Mathews ( Knee )
ILB – Manti Te’o ( Foot )
OLB – Jerry Attaochu ( Hamstring )
CB – Jason Verrett ( Shoulder )
CB – Steve Williams ( Groin )
ILB – Kavell Conner ( Ankle )
RT – DJ Fluker ( Ankle )
OLB – Dwight Freeney ( Knee )
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger ( Back )
Mike McCoy and the coaching staff are going to have to find ways to put the players that are healthy into positions that accentuate their strengths. Having so many backups in can change the gameplan to a degree, but I would expect there to not be too much deviation from what the team does on offense and defense.
The Chargers are heading into Denver tomorrow to take on the Broncos. No one in the Denver organization feels sorry for the Bolts about their long injury list. It is up to San Diego to rise up and overcome this adversity and escape Mile High with a win. It will not be an easy task, but it can be done. The lead in the AFC West is up for grabs and this could be a huge statement game for the Chargers.
Regardless of all of the injuries, I cannot wait for tomorrow’s game.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The San Diego Chargers are in the news again due to an injury. This time, per Michael Gehlken, the injured player is inside linebacker Manti Te’o. Despite all of his deficiencies, Te’o currently leads the team in tackles.
In comes former Colt Kavell Conner.
As I’ve written before, Conner may not be as instinctive as Manti, but he’s a solid substitution. I don’t expect there to be much of a drop-off at all. Conner has 241 career tackles along with three fumbles forced and three fumbles recovered.
The former seventh-round selection in the 2010 draft by the Indianapolis Colts is a sound tackler. He has good size at 6’0″ and 245 pounds. In his second season in the NFL with Indy, he amassed over 100 tackles. Tom Telesco obviously liked Conner’s skillset enough to sign him during the offseason.
The injury bug has been hanging out in San Diego during the early stages of the 2014 offseason and regular season. The versatility of a guy like Reggie Walker will help due to his ability to play both inside linebacker and outside linebacker. He will most likely be called upon to back up Conner. Andrew Gachkar will also see snaps in relief at the ILB spot.
Mike McCoy has preached his “Next man up” mantra over and over again. The Bolts will stick with that plan and continue to find that next guy to step up and fill the shoes of another injured starter. As I mentioned on Facebook, the aforementioned injury bug needs to go inhabit and harass the cities of Denver, Kansas City and Oakland. The Chargers have had more than their fair share of injuries. Shoo, fly!
2011 Draft grades
So it is a long story but life got in the way of my Chargers coverage. The same weekend Tommy Telesco and the Bolts selected new players I was super busy. The draft was held the same weekend as The World Horror Convention which is the Super bowl of my profession, so I couldn’t break down the draft like I normally would. Then I got to thinking, if you listen to most football experts they will tell you over and over that you can’t grade a draft class for three years.
I know this is like asking a Charger fan to open a long scarred over wound, but I thought I would grade the 2011 draft class overseen by AJ Smith and Norv Turner. I am super happy with the first two drafts by McCoy and Telesco, but we are still rooting for a team put on the field in part by Norv and AJ. So How did they do?
Corey Liuget, 1st round, 18th overall, DE
What they were thinking:
AJ and his team had not yet found anyone to replace Jamal Williams who really push the line, stop the run and take up a double team on the front. Liuget played on a bad Illinois defense, but his highlight reel was impressive.
Liuget’s best game was probably in 2012 on the road against the Jets. The defense set a franchise record that day. Liuget and Reyes abused Jets starter that day Greg McElroy. I am not surprised the dude retired from the NFL the next year, I am surprised he didn’t in the 3rd Quarter.
A-. Sure, Liuget has yet to make a pro-bowl but he has been a key contributor on our defense in moments when things are going right. He is often inches from making plays in the backfield, hopefully this year the draft of Carrethers at NT and Attaochou on the edge will open up the blocking and we will see him dragging down some quarterbacks. I also think it is important to note what happened last year in the preseason game with Chicago. For three plays in a row Liuget was brutally abusing Chicago’s line and Jay Cutler. Liuget was pulled from the game and we didn’t see him until the Monday night opener. We have now learned he played the entire season with a shoulder injury. That tells us that the man has big heart, and the play we saw in the 2013 campaign might have been affected.
Marcus Gilchrist, 2nd round, 50th overall, CB
What they were thinking:
Gilchrist is a player that the Bolts needed. He played both safety and cornerback during his time at Clemson. I think the versatility was the main draw, but his football IQ and ball hawk skills were important too. Remember we were still living with Jammer on one side and Cason on the other.
Gilchrist has been a big contributor, some standout moments include an amazing sack of Peyton Manning during our Thursday night upset in Denver. Another was a key interception against KC in Arrowhead. If you go further back he intercepted the first pass ever throw his way. He did have some negative plays most notably dropping a game-ending interception against the Titans.
B. Asked to play CB his first two years he has been playing a lot safety and cover of slot receivers. Is he elite? No, but his play has been solid and important.
Jonas Mouton, 2nd round, 61st overall, LB
What they were thinking:
College Totals – include 44 games played and 34 starts, 264 tackles, 18 tackles for loss (-56 yards), three sacks (-28 yards), four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and seven passes defensed. This was the start of the Bolts trying to get young at the linebacker position.
Crickets, that is what you hear.
Vincent Brown, 3rd round, 82nd overall, WR
What they were thinking: After all the headaches with AJ had with VJ no one expected VB to be the VJ, but he was a key wide-out. The third all-time leading receiver in San Diego State history with 209 catches and 3,110 yards. Youth, speed and play making ability.
During his rookie campaign Brown averaged 17.3 yards per catch,. He finished his rookie season with 19 catches for 329 yards. He burst on the scene with a Thursday night perform in Oakland, he caught two touchdowns, that involved amazing catches and he had to really fight for the ball. Last year he started the season strong with a great Touchdown against the Texans. It was an effort play with fantastic Yards after the catch, stretching out to pylon. After Week Two Phillip Rivers raved on the Darren Smith show about a heads up play on 3rd and 2 that VB stepped and converted the play they never practiced before. Rivers was impressed that VB stepped up in the moment just after Malcolm Floyd was knocked out of the game.
C. Hard to say since his first year was affected by the lock-out, his second was lost to IR and last year was his first full year. VB disappeared in the second half of the season. He was a ghost during the two play-off games. This is an important year for him. At this moment he is not looking like a good pick.
Shareece Wright, 3rd round, 89th overall, CB
What they were thinking:
AJ was clearly worried about the Cason and Jammer combo. Wright finished career with 127 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries, one interception and 13 passes defensed. Also important in this draft he had 24 career special teams tackles and one blocked field goal.
Picking off Eli Manning never hurts when winning the hearts of Chargers fans.
C. Wright certainly played better than Free Agent Derek Cox, and improved his play throughout the final stretch 2013. I know it started out rough.
Jordan Todman, 6th round, 183rd overall, RB
Less than zero.
What they were thinking:
Norv defended this pick on the radio often. Todman racked up 200 all-purpose yards against Pitt in a game Norv watched. Apparently Norv’s son was working for PITT or something like that. The idea was that he would be the new Sproles.
F. Bustola. Ended up with the Vikings mid-season after a week or two on our practice squad, they eventually released him too. Desperate Jags finally gave him snaps.
Stephen Schilling, 6th round, 201st overall, OG
What they were thinking:
I have no idea why AJ took Schilling at this point. This was before our O-line started it’s meltdown.
His rookie year however was when the O-line started melting down. Schilling ended up at ground zero on a Thursday night against the Raiders. That night we had so many injuries even die-hard Charger fans who actually watched week four of pre-season were wondering who was protecting Rivers. He played an important role in stabilizing the line.
B-. Some of you are scratching your heads. That is a high-grade for a 6th round offensive guard. That is just it. He did fantastic from where he started.
Andrew Gachkar, 7th round, 234th, LB &ST
He has not had a ton of key plays but has been a solid back-up.
What they were thinking:
Honorable mention All-Big 12 by league’s coaches as senior…Missorui’s Special Teams Player of Year as freshman in 2007…finished career with 208 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks, four forced fumbles, five recoveries and two interceptions.
A-. Drafted 173 picks after Mouton, he played in 44 more games him. Drafted to be special teams player but filled in at Linebacker. Mixed results but still a value pick.
B-. I almost gave a C grade, but if you consider 5/7 of the picks have become role players and are 4/7 are still on the roster I feel like this is a good but not great draft for the Chargers.
David Agranoff is the wonderland award nominated author of three horror novels including Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich. A die-hard Chargers fan who can be followed on twitter @DAgranoffauthor