Will the 2016 campaign be the last year that we see both Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates on the field together? What will happen to the Chargers’ dynamic duo? Will they continue to be great after this season? Or will we have to say goodbye to our future hall of fame tight end, Antonio Gates, at year’s end?
There are two different ways to answer this question: the first is contractually and the second is by observation.
First, we will cover contractually. According to Antonio Gates’ contract, he is still going to be with the Chargers through 2017 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. So, he technically has two years to make the decision whether to retire early, or to play out the reminder of his contract and mentor the Chargers tight end of the future, Hunter Henry.
Personally, I watched Henry when he played for the University of Arkansas just this past year, and I was astonished at what I saw. He had a role that was similar to the one that Antonio Gates has for the Chargers; meaning that he was his quarterback’s first choice to throw the ball to, rather than a check-down, which seems to be what most tight ends are that are not named Gates, Gronkowski or Graham.
Now, let’s look at the observation. Looking at Gates’ statistics from the 2015 season, also known as the season the Chargers donated more than half their roster to the DL and IR (but that is another story), he only appeared in 11 of 16 games last season. Last season he only had 56 receptions and 630 receiving yards, as compared to the season before when he had 69 receptions and 821 yards.
It would not be a bad thing for Antonio Gates to retire after this season, and according to UT San Diego, he is contemplating it very seriously. Personally, I see this as what SHOULD be a driving force to the Chargers this season, similar to the Ravens several years ago when it seemed to be all about #WinItForRay. Ray, of course, is in reference to their long-time defensive captain and emotional center of the team, Ray Lewis.
Of course, only time will tell when Antonio Gates retires, but one thing is for certain: whenever he does retire, he should get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
The San Diego Chargers have begun making roster moves and training camp isn’t set to begin until Saturday. On Friday, the Chargers waived center Trevor Robinson. Part of the carousel at the center position, Robinson had 14 starts at center over the last two seasons.
Also included in the recent mix of Chargers centers since 2013 are Chris Watt, Nick Hardwick, Doug Legursky and Rich Ohrnberger.
The free agent signing of former-Chicago Bears offensive lineman Matt Slauson is expected to stop the revolving door at center while 2016 NFL Draft third-round pick Max Tuerk is groomed to be the center of the future. Slauson is an eight-year veteran who will be looked to provide leadership and serve as a mentor to Tuerk and the young offensive linemen.
The release of Robinson frees $2.3-million in cap space.
The free roster spot was filled with the signing of offensive lineman Marcel Jones. Listed at 6’7″-inches tall and 320 pounds, Jones was a seventh-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is listed as a guard/tackle. Now entering his fourth season as a pro, Jones has been limited to playing on the practice squad for the Saints and Baltimore Ravens.
Training camp is heating up and the first pass hasn’t been thrown yet. What will the Chargers do next? Are you excited for the 2016 edition of the San Diego Chargers so far? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
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
It’s officially the doldrums of the NFL offseason, the lonely time between mini-camps and the start of training camp. Made worse by the fact that the NBA and NHL seasons are over, this could be considered a sports fan’s darkest hour. Coaches and players are on “vacation” until the last few days of July. For many players this is the only time they will have to take care of important personal business like buying and selling houses and cars, renewing or obtaining driver’s licenses, and other important “housekeeping” duties.
For other players, it party time! The next four weeks are their last bit of freedom to let loose before another grueling season begins. Let’s hope our Bolts can focus on staying in shape and the playbook instead of “making it rain” and the local clubs.
Usually during this time sports news is hard to come by. Most local sports talk show hosts and news reporters are on vacation, and aside from the occasional story of some bonehead NFL player getting into trouble outside a local strip joint or night club, NFL news is fairly non-existent. So I was delighted to see an interesting NFL story break recently.
The Associated Press published an article about how a few NFL teams are using beeping footballs to help their running backs hold on to the ball more securely. The footballs are equipped with pressure sensors and an audible beeping device that emits a sound when the runner holds the ball by key positions tight enough to avoid being dislodged via a hit. The article states the ball could reduce fumbling by nearly sixty percent. The article also states that the Tampa Bay Bucs, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins are all using the device. More interestingly, it also stated that the Chargers are reportedly going to start using the football when they commence training camp on July 30th.
This is something worth taking note of when camp starts. Running back Melvin Gordon’s fumbling issues were well known last season. Putting the ball on the ground is unacceptable, especially this season for a team in “win now” mode for several reasons, including a potential stadium vote in November. The ball helps with muscle memory, training backs to grip the ball properly as well as with the correct amount of force. Instead of thinking about holding on to the ball, they can think about hitting the hole in front of them.
One potential hiccup I foresee is Mike McCoy will have to turn down the training facility’s boom box during practices. A staple of McCoy’s practices, and one of the few things he does that I actually approve of, is playing loud music during practice. Blaring rhythmic tunes over the facility’s speakers helps simulate loud stadium environments the Chargers play in on a weekly basis such as Arrowhead Stadium. I am not sure how Gordon and company will be able to hear a beeping football over Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit screaming expletives. If the new footballs help reduce fumbling I am all for shelving McCoy’s playlist and listing the boom box for sale on Craigslist.
Hopefully these new balls can help Melvin Gordon, who has many facets to his game that need improving, as well as the other running backs on the roster. I would actually give this device to any players who handle the ball such as receivers and return men, maybe even the whole team. It will be interesting to see if this new training tool will make an impact for the teams using it this year, especially our Bolts!
What do you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
The mantle has been passed.
When long-time defensive team captain Eric Weddle moved on to sign with the Baltimore Ravens in March of this year, it was the end of an era.
Now, the onus is on Jahleel Addae to take on a more prominent role in the secondary. The question is, can he?
In the offseason, Addae signed a one-year RFA (restricted free agent) tender for $2.553 million. Last year, the strong safety racked up 65 tackles and a sack. Four years in San Diego have given him 151 tackles, three sacks, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
An undrafted free agent, Addae has been a part of the Bolts’ secondary longer than anyone else currently back there. He and defensive backs coach Ron Milus joined the Chargers in 2013. So, Addae should have a better grasp than the rest of that position group when it comes to what Milus is striving for out of his players in the secondary.
One of the challenges he faces is staying on the field. Now entering his fourth year with the Bolts, Addae has only managed to have one complete 16-game season (in 2013 as a rookie). Since then, he has missed parts of the last couple of campaigns with injuries to his ankle and hamstring. Let’s not forget there were two concussions, also.
Dubbed “The Hitman” by his fellow Chippewas at Central Michigan University, the ferocious hits that Addae has put on opponents have not only rattled them, but No. 37 himself. One such hit occurred in the October 23, 2014 game in Denver — a helmet-to-helmet collision with Broncos running back Juwan Thompson; the aftermath was disconcerting to many who witnessed Addae’s behavior. The safety is clearly seen experiencing some type of reaction to that impact. Though all on-field evaluations were negative, he was diagnosed with a concussion two days later. He did not miss any playing time.
Fast forward to 2016 and the expectations that Addae has for himself now that No. 32 is no longer across from him. Throughout OTAs, he has realized that he can take the knowledge learned from lining up opposite Weddle, use it to step up his game and become the leader that the young guys coming in need him to be. The offseason addition of former Colts’ safety Dwight Lowery should make that challenge seem less daunting.
Maturity and experience have also brought recognition of the example he needs to set with respect to those hits that he is so well-known for; putting himself on the bench due to injury as a direct result of one is not in his plans. As he recently stated, “I’m a physical safety. I love contact. But I know that I have to play smart. I’ve been hearing that since I’ve come into the league…My biggest goal is to play in all 16. And I feel I’ll be able to do that.”
Will Addae lead the secondary in helping the team overcome a forgettable 4-12 season? I believe he can. It is on him now to mentor the youth movement and be the voice of experience.
Thanks for reading!
After Week 6 at Green Bay during the 2015 season, it seemed that Keenan Allen had finally put it all together. Allen was nearing the halfway point of his third NFL season and had just posted 14 catches for 157 yards. This was one catch shy of tying the Chargers’ record for most receptions in a single game…. The same record he did tie in the first week of the season against Detroit.
In fact, that was his third game with 10+ catches in the first six weeks of the season. Allen was on pace for 134 catches, 1,450 yards and eight touchdowns. Forget the Pro Bowl, those are numbers that get Offense Player of the Year consideration.
That stat line, though, is only what could have been, after he was injured in Baltimore on a leaping catch for a touchdown that ended in a landing where he lacerated a kidney.
After beginning the year with a torrid pace of 67 catches, 725 yards and four touchdowns, Allen would be forced to watch his team struggle to a putrid 4-12 record to finish out the 2015 campaign.
Now, the self-proclaimed defensive back “Slayer” is ready to make the same noise he started to make last year. He returns to old friend Ken Whisenhunt making a return as offensive coordinator, who held the same position during Allen’s stellar rookie campaign which saw him break a numerous amount of franchise rookie records and earn multiple awards from different media outlets.
The San Diego aerial attack will undoubtedly rely on Keenan Allen once more this season. While it seems like All-World tight end Antonio Gates is not aging, he most certainly can no longer bare the weight of being a No. 1 passing option week-in and week-out. His newly acquired replacement, Hunter Henry, is promising, yet unproven. Danny Woodhead along with the remainder of the wide receiving corps can only serve as a complement to Allen.
There is no question as to whether or not Keenan can continue to produce what he gave us a sneak peek of last year. As long as he remains healthy, Keenan Allen will be able to produce at a high level for the Chargers this coming season.
Combine Allen’s talent with the over-the-top speed of free agent signee Travis Benjamin, the versatility of Woodhead, and the craftiness from slot receiver Stevie Johnson, No. 13 should flourish once again with quarterback Philip Rivers knowing he has an incredible arsenal of weapons, namely Allen.
Do you believe that Keenan Allen be a top-tier receiver this year?
Let me know below or on twitter — @DefineRoyallty.
That’s how you #ReadTheBlitz
When a dream becomes reality it is always something special. For Tenny Palepoi, that day happened a little over two years ago when he joined the Chargers as an undrafted rookie.
The former University of Utah player is known for his tenaciousness and his work ethic. To put it quite simply, Palepoi works incredibly hard.
Defense runs through his Samoan veins. One of his older brothers, Anton, also a defensive end, was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in round two (#60) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He was one of the highest draft picks to come out of UNLV in 14 years. Father Tony played for the Samoan National Rugby Team.
Whenever Tenny decided to play football, I’m sure the game plan came about as part of his being one of fourteen kids who had to defend themselves growing up with all those bodies!
He began his journey into football at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. While there he collected 49 tackles, 10 TFL (tackles for loss), two sacks and a fumble recovery in 2011. In 2012 he transferred to the University of Utah where he logged 74 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 6.5 sacks. He took over the nose tackle position when teammate Star Lotulelei was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2013. Palepoi was team captain for the Utes and chosen to the second-team All-PAC-12 team (2013). He was also considered one of the best nose tackles in the PAC-12 that year.
Palepoi signed with San Diego just over two years ago as an undrafted free agent. It probably helped having fellow Ute alumni Eric Weddle to help with the transition.
The young defensive tackle played all 16 games of his rookie season. He finished the year with 16 tackles, of which nine were solo endeavors.
One of his best, and most likely difficult, games came November 30, 2014. A road matchup against the Baltimore Ravens mere days after his older brother Francis passed away at just 42 years of age due to a heart condition. That contest saw Palepoi make three tackles in the Bolts’ first win in M & T Stadium in three years.
By all means his sophomore campaign should have been even better. That all went by the wayside when he fractured his foot during training camp on August 1. On August 3, the announcement was made that the young lineman was being placed on the Reserve/Injured list. Coach Mike McCoy further stated, (in part from Eric D. Williams of ESPN)
“This is the part of the business that sucks. I hate to say it, but that’s just the truth. A guy that works as hard as he has…he is one of the guys here all the time…he’s made the most out of every single opportunity he’s had. He had an outstanding year last year, and it sucks to be honest with you.”
I would expect that if he has such a gung-ho work ethic that Palepoi focused sheer determination into getting ready for a 2016 comeback. I know he can be a force once again in John Pagano’s defensive schemes.
Thank you for reading!
With Eric Weddle leaving for the Baltimore Ravens, it was apparent the San Diego Chargers were going to have to address the hole at safety.
So they did. Sort of. Possibly.
After signing former Colts safety Dwight Lowery early in March, it wasn’t until the draft that the front office addressed the last line of the defense once more.
Technically, it was actually after the draft ended when San Diego acquired the only true safety during the most popular weekend of the NFL offseason.
Undrafted free agent safety Adrian McDonald agreed to terms with the Chargers on April 30 and will look to become a permanent part of the San Diego secondary.
Weight: 205 lbs*
40 Yard Dash: 4.62**
Bench Press (225 lbs): 10 reps**
*According to Chargers’ website
**Texans local prospect day
McDonald tallied 17 career interceptions, forced seven fumbles and recovered seven more. He ranked 2nd on his team in tackles during his junior campaign with 92, along with four interceptions for the University of Houston. His numbers did not go unnoticed as he was named first-team All-AAC, as well as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe awarded given to the best defensive back in college football.
There is no denying McDonald has a nose for the football as he consistently finds himself near, sometimes with, the ball. He is a solid tackler which not only is a defensive requirement but a special teams one, as well.
Showing value on special teams is most assuredly McDonald’s key to making the 53-man roster. His lack of ideal size and speed is what kept him from hearing his name during the draft, but he can make 31 other teams regret that decision by working hard to get an opportunity to showcase his talents.
With the Chargers ranking 19th in takeaways last season with just 20, players like McDonald are going to get a chance to bring such production to the Bolts’ secondary.
Here’s to hoping this marriage is long-lasting and beneficial to both sides.
Take a look for yourself at Charger hopeful, Adrian McDonald:
The fans of the blue and gold should be feeling pretty good about this year’s draft. Depending on your point of view, either Christmas came early or it came late. Glass half-full or half-empty? Mine is half-full.
The Chargers’ GM, Tom Telesco, addressed two of my biggest concerns for the upcoming football calendar. Those were center and fullback. Yes, I’m aware that there was a hole left in the secondary with the departure of Eric Weddle. However, the two most glaring chasms on the offensive side of the ball were the aforementioned spots.
We expected to see an electrified offense after Telesco moved up two spots in the 2015 draft to take running back Melvin Gordon (first round, 15th overall via trade with the 49ers).
To say that the Bolts’ offense was in tatters for the second year in a row is a fair assessment. They may not have had five centers in-and-out like 2014, but it they were still unable to provide much assistance to either help keep Philip Rivers from being pounded, or create seams for any of the Chargers’ ball carriers.
Whether you like all or a few of the choices the team’s general manager made last week, I hope that seeing Derek Watt lining up in front of Gordon in the Bolts’ backfield is one of them. The two played together at the University of Wisconsin, and both are excited to get that chemistry going once more.
Watt is 6’2″ and comes in at 236 pounds. He had 24 starts in 47 games for the Badgers, compiling 309 yards on 30 receptions and a lone touchdown. He was the 2012 Rookie of the Year for UW, as well as being named to the Academic All-Big 10 every year from 2012 thru 2015. On the down side, he missed five games in 2014 due to a foot fracture. In 13 games last season, he had 15 receptions for 139 yards to go along with 45 yards on nine rushes. It was his second best statistical year going back to his freshman days.
Whatever schemes offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt can put together for his newest two backs, I cannot help but look towards the future with excitement. There has not been a fullback on the roster since 2013 when Le’Ron McClain last played. Prior to McClain, San Diego had the likes of Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester (2008-2011), who blocked for Darren Sproles from 2005-2010. Let’s not forget that Lorenzo Neal (one of my favorites), who is considered to be one of the best blocking fullbacks in NFL history, spent five seasons here in front of good ol’ No. 21 himself, LaDainian Tomlinson!
Should Watt and Gordon be able to get into that groove they had going on at the University of Wisconsin, I think we will see a tremendous leap from ranking 31st in 2015 with a league average 84.9 rushing yards per game.
All in all, it is my fervent wish that the San Diego Chargers get their running game back on track with the one-two punch of Watt blocking for his former college teammate, Gordon.
Thank you, Tom Telesco, for that selection. You recognized that need for the offense to excel this year.
The situation with the stadium/convention center proposal being what it is right now, there is an onus on the team to not only come out strong, but to also stay strong as the season progresses.
Looking forward to minicamp followed by preseason!
Thanks for reading!!
San Diego Chargers GM Tom Telesco made one extra phone call during the day three draft proceedings Saturday. That call was to long-tenured punter Mike Scifres. On that phone call he informed Scifres he was being released. With his next pick in the sixth round Telesco tabbed Texas A&M punter Drew Kaser to be his replacement.
Scifres, along with Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd and Eric Weddle have all been with the Chargers the longest at thirteen seasons. Floyd retired and Weddle is now a member of the Baltimore Ravens. As difficult as it was to make the decision to part ways with a revered member of the locker room, Scifres play had reached a point of diminishing returns over the past couple of seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Scifres ranked last in punter rankings. The veteran will be widely believed to be the best punter in Chargers history.
Said Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy of Scifres: “He’s a true pro. When people ask what it means to be a Charger, I’ll point to Mike Scifres. Thank you Mike, we’re going to miss you.”
The release of Scifres frees over $3.6 million in salary cap space. With the Bolts making a lot of draft picks in need areas, expect more of these type of cuts in the near future.
Thank you, Mike.
The Greg One