So, I find myself asking this question for the second year in a row. Last year we had injuries and no depth. This year we have depth, but even more injuries and at so many key positions depth doesn’t matter. Let’s look at the facts.
- Hardwick and Woodhead are out for the year after 2 games (and 1 carry in the 3rd game)
- Te’o, Mathews, Ingram have missed 6 weeks starting after the 2nd and 3rd game of the year
- The decline of Donald Butler (as Michael Gehlken pointed out, the Te’o injury has forced Butler to play out of position)
- Injuries to Fluker, Flowers, Addae, Verrett, Wright, Attaochu, Brown, Ohrnberger, Walker, and Williams (all of whom have missed time)
- Not to mention losing our true NT Geathers in the preseason
I look at that list and again wonder if the Chargers are better than they should be. We are 5-4 and at this point and have an opportunity to get healthy at the bye. Keep in mind this is a team that beat the Super Bowl Champs (yes their record isn’t as good) but we also only lost by 1 point to the team with the best record in the NFL this year. So what are the keys for the Chargers to win 5 or 6 of the next 7 games (assuming 10-6 gets you in).
- Getting healthy and staying healthy
- Luck…it plays a role in football and given their schedule in the 2nd half, they’ll need it
- We have to start winning in the trenches. Both lines have gotten zero push the last two weeks
- Pressure on opposing QBs
- Positive turnover margin
- Use all the weapons we have on offense (Mathews, Green, Allen, Gates, Brown, Floyd, Royal)
- Get the screen game going
- Too predictable running on 1st down
- Get the nasty edge back on defense. Flowers has made a huge impact on this defense but that tenacity has been missing the past couple weeks
Given all this team has had to overcome this year, and the amount of things on that list they need to overcome to make the playoffs; if that happens, I’m pretty sure they are better than they should be.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
Editor’s Note: In this piece Peter Silberberger breaks down the defensive battles per position. Due to injuries along the defensive line, other spots on the defense may suffer cuts in order to supplement needs up front.
Tom Telesco has not ignored the need for help at the cornerback position. In fact, depending on health, it may now be a strength for the Chargers. While we haven’t seen any glaring dominance, what we have seen is how teams and players are reacting to San Diego’s rotating defensive back units.
A few things stand out. Richard Marshall was given snaps at safety during the San Francisco game. This action likely speaks to some final roster thoughts. Carrying any more than three full time safeties would cut into the other needs of depth for the team. Addae, Stuckey, and Weddle are all locks, and having part-time corner Marcus Gilchrist and a veteran like Marshall able to fill in occasionally makes the defensive backfield strong and flexible.
Teams seem more than willing to throw at Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall, but not so much toward Verrett or Flowers. Granted, the two starters from last year’s squad are labeled poorly when it comes to 2013 pass defense rankings, but with the two new faces around, it looks as though John Pagano will have plenty of options. It should also be noted that neither Flowers or Verrett have seen much playing time as of yet, but their reputation and speed respectively seem to affect the number of attempts thrown their way.
Steve Williams and Crezdon Butler have both had a rough go with actual game speed and play calling. Chris Davis, however, has been all over the place throughout training camp and on game tape. If today was 53-man cut down day, Davis would be getting the nod over both other reserves.
Brandon Ghee had seemingly disappeared completely during preseason, and found himself on the chopping block during first cuts, which finalized Tuesday. Marcus Cromartie was sent to injured reserve on Tuesday, as well.
These moves leave the door open for either Steve Williams or Chris Davis, but likely not both with Gilchrist around. The team will likely total seven cornerbacks, including Gilchrist, which is a lot already. Don’t expect there to be eight.
Defensive Line/ Outside Linebackers:
At first glance, it appears that Pagano’s traditional 3-4 defense has some definite holes to fill in prototypical positions. The defensive tackle position is shaky at best, and the end depth is thin. Questions of how and where Dwight Freeney will be best utilized are still relevant, and there’s a lot of unproven talent walking around.
The team released reserve DE Damik Scafe and lost rookie prospect DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe for the year to an ACL tear. Telesco, doing what he does, pulled in two cuts from around the league in Doug Worthington and Joe Kruger. Worthington projects as a 4-3 lineman and Kruger mostly the same, although a more athletic frame may allow him to dabble in a standing position.
All of this maneuvering seems to overlap with the theme of this roster build, and its versatility. It would appear that Mike McCoy’s nature of playing the schemes which best fit his personnel has caught on with his coordinators. That being said, any personnel being brought in this late will have to be adaptable. Guys like Worthington, Kruger, and other roster hopeful Cordarro Law will have to be able to fit into multiple positions in order to make the team. This could, perhaps, be unfortunate news for a guy like Thomas Keiser.
Although noticeably productive, Keiser is viewed as a bit of a one-trick pony. It’s not that the Bolts don’t need pass rushing outside ‘backers, it’s that they already have those guys for those specific sets. Ingram, Attaochu, Johnson, Tourek Williams, and even Reggie Walker can all fill that role easily. If guys like Worthington, Kruger, or Law make this roster over Keiser, it will be because of their ability to play in multiple defensive sets, as well as contribute on special teams.
The defensive tackle position is a different story entirely. Kwame Geathers and Sean Lissemore have been at the top of the depth chart for some time. That being said, Lissemore is battling an injury and Geathers was sent to injured reserve on Tuesday, ending his season. Enter rookies Ryan Carrethers and Tenny Palepoi. Both have the prototypical build to anchor the traditional 3-4 line, but both are very young. They’ll collectively get all the snaps they can handle, which is great for their growth process. Suddenly, however, the team lacks playable veteran mentors at the position.
One thing most know about Tom Telesco is that he is never without options. The opportunistic GM will be closely watching the waiver wire as teams trim rosters to 75 this week. If he sees a bargain, he’ll certainly grab it.
Another option is long time NFL veteran free agent Ryan Pickett. The ex-Packer lives in San Diego and has expressed interest. The good there is clearly the wealth of experience and ability to teach, as he once did for Packers DT B.J. Raji. Pickett would almost certainly have to see veteran minimum salary as a must in this situation, which is also team friendly. The bad is likely his 34 year-old physique may not be what the Bolts are looking for.
It’s more in Telesco’s nature to find a second or third year guy who couldn’t squeeze onto a roster somewhere else in the league. In order to keep the talent level high, Telesco will likely wait and watch the final week with the guys already around. This will serve two purposes. One, it will give every snap available to the two rookies for invaluable experience in real-time. Two, it will allow for Telesco to wait for the perfect guy to add when final 53s are announced by Friday. There are tough decisions being made all over the league this week, and teams such as the Patriots and Broncos could be cutting some serious talent on the defensive line.
By the end of this week, Lissemore and Carrethers will be Chargers for sure, but don’t be surprised if Palepoi is challenged by a Telesco find. If that were the case, the battle for the roster spot could take place during the final preseason game. If not, and Tenny struggles, he may very well lose his spot to a more trusted veteran come Friday.
With the versatility of guys like Reggie Walker and Marcus Gilchrist, the inside linebacker and safety positions seem to be sewn up. So, while watching Thursday’s game, it’s D-Line, outside linebacker, and cornerback where the 2014 San Diego Chargers will be focused on finalizing the roster.
Can Chris Davis keep his momentum going in his duel with Steve Williams? Will newly added athletes in the front seven push Thomas Keiser out? Will there be another addition to the defensive tackle position by Wednesday afternoon? The final game of the pre season is supposed to be practically unwatchable to the average football fan. Good thing Charger fans are anything but that.
Per the Chargers official website, Chargers.com, San Diego has made the 5 necessary moves to drop the roster count down to 75. The following 5 transactions were made just moments ago.
Placed on reserve/injured:
– CB Marcus Cromartie
– DE Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe
– NT Kwame Geathers
Placed on reserve/PUP list:
– G/T Jeromey Clary
– CB Brandon Ghee
With the exception of placing Geathers on IR, none of these moves come as a surprise. Though Tjong-A-Tjoe had a strong shot at the practice squad, once it was announced that he had suffered a torn ACL which everyone knew would end his year.
Losing Geathers is a serious cause for concern. In typical Mike McCoy fashion, the injury was initially downplayed as not too serious. I actually like that about him, by the way. I am sure there are very few of you that agree with that.
The injuries and lack of depth along the defensive line are certainly an area that must be addressed. All 32 NFL teams are about to have to trim their rosters to 53 players this Saturday on August 30th.
You better believe that Tom Telesco and company are ready to mend a unit that is in dire need of such help.
Thanks a lot for reading.
One of the most popular mantras regarding NFL football is “Defense wins championships.” Or at least that’s what people always say. In the case of the San Diego Chargers, that mantra may bring them that much closer to the title that has eluded the Charger franchise since the inception of the “Super Bowl”.
The last time the Bolts won a title was in 1963, before there ever was an AFL/NFL Championship game. That year the Bolts creamed the Boston Patriots 51-10 to claim their only AFL title.
This past spring, the Chargers dramatically upgraded a defense that was, without a doubt, in dire need of doing just that. Drafted were Jason Verrett in the first round (25th overall) and Jeremiah (Jerry) Attaochu in the second round (50th overall). Steve Williams, the fifth round pick in the 2013 draft, returns after spending his rookie season on injured reserve. Tom Telesco was very high on Williams and Booga Peters, editor of this site, wanted the team to select the former Cal Bear prior to his selection last year.
The secondary was further upgraded with the signing of free agent cornerback Brandon Flowers. He spent six years with division foe Kansas City and cites playing them twice a year as part of his decision to sign with the Chargers. In those six years, Flowers amassed 17 interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Numbers like these will be welcome by a defense that has traditionally had trouble taking the ball away from opposing offenses in recent years. The Chargers tied for 26th in the NFL in 2013 with 11 interceptions and tied for 28th with six fumble recoveries.
Clearly those numbers are not good enough if this team plans to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Add players who were injured for all or part of 2013 returning this year healthy (Dwight Freeney, Melvin Ingram, Corey Liuget and Manti Te’o) and another year of maturity for players like Kendall Reyes and Shareece Wright and solid play from Donald Butler, the sky is the limit for the Charger defense. The only hole I see in this defense is at nose tackle. That will be the position I will be watching to see how effective a rotation including Sean Lissemore, Kwame Geathers and rookie Ryan Carrethers play. In most 3-4 schemes, NT is the most critical position on the defensive line.
It can be said this year may be a “put up or shut up” year for defensive coordinator John Pagano. This is probably one of the most talented squads he’s had to work with in San Diego. If this squad stays healthy and performs up to expectation, they will make Philip Rivers and the Charger offense that much more effective.
Personally, I think Pagano will “put up” this year and this Charger defense will pull more than its weight in 2014.
What are your thoughts? Do you see a San Diego defense that will be able to create havoc and force turnovers this season? Let us know by leaving your comments below.
Everyone and their dog has a mock draft out these days. The Greg One is not one to be left out of the fun, so here it is, people. I’ll be adding one more to the ever growing list of seven-round educated (and not-so educated) guesses called a mock draft. I have been keeping an eye on prospects and listening to the talking heads on tv and radio for some perspective. Mind you, these are the same pundits who predicted the Chargers would finish at the bottom of the AFC West last season while your friend The Greg One correctly predicted the Chargers record within one game (my guess was 10-6) and the Chargers making the playoffs when none of the ‘experts’ would. Sometimes the best information comes from someone close, passionate about their team but also sees their team realistically. Suck on that ESPN!
Also keep in mind that in my 2013 Chargers mock draft I was one pick away from being dead on. I had the Chargers choosing Alabama guard Chance Warmack as the Chargers selection and he was chosen one pick before the Chargers selected, going to Tennessee with the 10th pick right before the Chargers picked at 11. The Chargers took Alabama right tackle DJ Fluker and had a great season. Still, I had the position (offensive line) and even the school (Alabama) correct, which is more than Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay did. Now that I’ve built my pundit resume to impossible, only a dead on pick will do kind of level, here is my Chargers seven round mock draft!
Round One: Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame. The Chargers have a gaping hole at defensive tackle after the departure of Cam Thomas this offseason. The Chargers are left with Sean Lissemore and the injured Kwame Geathers as the only nose tackles on the roster. There is no one of note left on the free agent market which makes this the biggest priority to fill through the draft, slightly ahead of the secondary. CB’s Justin Gilbert, Darqueze Dennard and Bradley Roby will be long gone as will safeties Ha Ha Clinton Dix and Calvin Pryor. Nix is the best pure nose tackle in the draft and will be reunited with teammate Manti Te’o, easing his transition to the team. Renewing the chemistry they had in college will be an added benefit on the field.
Round Two: Kyle Van Noy DE/OLB BYU. The Chargers are keeping a close eye on Van Noy, who has had a visit with the team and has said he would love to play for the Chargers. Van Noy is a high motor, disruptive force blitzing from the edge. His specialty is rushing the passer but drops into coverage very well and is solid against the run. Van Noy will be a great addition from a depth standpoint and has outstanding veterans around him to learn from. Even with offenses designing plays to go away from him, Van Noy logged 68 tackles with 17.5 for loss, four sacks, two interceptions and seven batted balls.
Round Three: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama. Kouandjio stock is dropping after a sub-par showing at the combine including a failed physical. His surgically repaired knee has received a clean bill of health from the esteemed Dr. James Andrews. The Chargers will most likely trade up, sacrificing a late round pick (6 or 7) to get high enough in the order to make the selection, but taking advantage of another first round grade talent will be too impossible to ignore. The Chargers again reunite teammates as Kouandjio becomes the bookend on the left side to D.J. Fluker on the right side of the offensive line.
Round Four: The Chargers trade their pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the rights to wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The troubled wide receiver was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft after two seasons as an All-American receiver for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Blackmon is currently suspended following his second violation of the league’s substance abuse policy and was recently cited for a one-car incident when he ran his SUV into a guard rail and landed in a ditch last month. Fortunately, there was no alcohol involved which would’ve lengthened his suspension. Blackmon can apply to be reinstated before the start of the 2014 season but chances are the Jaguars may be looking to rid the locker room of his presence.
A change of scenery and a fresh start with a new, contending team can be the perfect scenario for the 24-year old Blackmon. A bona fide deep threat, he will provide the perfect complement to Keenan Allen. Blackmon was only making 1.2 million so a new contract will be easy for GM Tom Telesco to negotiate. If the opportunity is there, Telesco should make the deal.
Round Five: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon. Telesco wants to improve team speed and you won’t find many in this draft faster than De’Anthony Thomas. At Oregon’s pro day Thomas posted a 4.34 and 4.35 40 yard dash times. Thomas is electric in the return game as he had four return touchdowns for Oregon in his three-year career. Thomas was a standout member of Oregon’s track and field team anchoring the 4×100 relay for the team that made it to the 2012 NCAA Championships. Thomas is a great 10-15 carries per game running back but does not have the body to be an every down back. He can be a specialty back in the vein of Darren Sproles or Danny Woodhead as he is a great receiver out of the backfield and operates best in space. Speaking of whom, Woodhead is on the second year of his two-year contract with the Chargers. Thomas would be a great insurance policy/heir apparent if Woodhead gets injured or leaves in free agency next season.
Round Six: Terrance Mitchell, DB Oregon. Mitchell’s stock dropped at the draft combine when he ran a 4.69 40-yard dash time. Mitchell is a little undersized at 5’11 but makes up for it with impressive ball skills and instincts. Mitchell stared 38 games for the Ducks and played in high-profile games against the best receivers the Pac-12 had to offer. Mitchell had five interceptions last season as a season-long starter. Mitchell’s excels in press coverage and knows how to use his hands and body in coverage. Mitchell is a playmaker who will also be a valuable contributor on special teams.
Round Seven: Michael Sam, DE Missouri. Sam was the story of the day for about a week when he came out, making him the first openly gay player to take the field in the NFL. However, the story didn’t do anything to his draft stock and he has been forgotten amidst all the draft hoopla. Sam would be a fantastic bargain here as the Chargers are woefully thin all across the defensive line. Like Te’o the year before him, San Diego will provide shelter from the harsh media scrutiny of other NFL cities and allow Sam to thrive.
The Chargers most likely won’t have a seventh round pick. I expect the seventh round pick to be used in a trade up scenario or in the Blackmon trade. Similarly, a team like the Ravens or Steelers will take Sam in an earlier round. However, he will be a late day three pick if he gets chosen at all. If he’s there the Chargers will take him but if he’s gone and the pick is not traded the Chargers will more than likely stash a quarterback like they did last season with Brad Sorensen.
I only took one defensive back because the Chargers will also gain the services of defensive back Stevie Williams, who was chosen with a fifth round pick in last season’s draft. Williams missed all season with a torn pectoral muscle.
The (mostly) unintentional coupling of past teammates will only serve to improve team chemistry and provide a mentor-like relationship in the cases of Fluker and Kouandjio; Te’o and Nix. The team adds valued speed with Blackmon and Thomas and the defense gets much-needed depth with a handful of blue chip prospects.
What do you think Boltfam?
The Greg One
After somewhat of a writing hiatus, I am now back to the grindstone after the Chargers were ousted from the playoffs by the Denver Broncos. This season provided many ups and downs. Considering what Tom Telesco, Mike McCoy and company had to work with the 2013 season can definitely be considered a success.
As you all know, the Bolts advanced past the first round of the playoffs and eventually fell to Denver. During that game, and many others throughout the year, San Diego’s flaws became quite obvious. In this post I’ll breakdown the team’s needs all over the defensive side of the roster.
Despite improved play in the secondary, it is clear that the cornerback position must be addressed during the offseason. The Chargers finished with the 29th ranked passing defense. That is not going to get it done. Shareece Wright played hard and was tough during certain stretches of the year. But he was a bit inconsistent. Richard Marshall played admirably but was not a guy that you want starting in your defensive backfield. I am very interested to see what this year’s fifth round pick, Steve Williams can do next season after tearing a pectoral muscle prior to the season. The Chargers may look to address this need in both free agency and the draft depending on how the feel the play of Wright progressed as a starter on the outside. Wright had his share of plays and he was also exploited by some of the better quarterbacks in the league.
Sticking with the cornerback spot, the addition of Derek Cox was, without a doubt, a serious disappointment to say the least. After multiple benchings due to poor play, Cox was relegated to special teams play or occasionally coming in when another corner was injured. It has been said by Telesco that the team will try to work with Cox. But it would not be a surprise at all to see him cut in an effort to save a little bit of cash toward the salary cap.
On a high note regarding the secondary, the emergence of strong safety Jahleel Addae just might have eliminated the need to fill that spot in the upcoming draft or free agency. It is also seemed that Darrell Stuckey, who began to see the most defensive snaps of his entire career, is a solid backup. Oh, and there’s that one guy Eric Weddle. He’s pretty damn good. Adding a little depth to the safety spots wouldn’t hurt but the future there seems to be bright.
Sticking with the defensive side of the ball, we’ll work our way to the linebacking spots. Beginning with the inside backers, it is paramount that the team re-sign Donald Butler. He is a leader on this team and, despite a dip in play this year, he is a top 7 inside linebacker in this league.
Next to Butler is the highly talked about Manti Te’o; who it turns out has a real girlfriend, by the way. After missing the first three games due to injury, Te’o had a rough beginning to his rookie campaign. He had some issues adjusting to the speed of the NFL game and his inability to shed blocks was still the same issue he had in college. All of that being said, his play did improve over the season.
The Bolts have Reggie Walker, who plays both the inside and outside spots, Andrew Gachkar – special teams standout – and Bront Bird for depth at the inside linebacker position. Walker had a good year making plays when called upon. It might be necessary to upgrade over either Gachkar, Bird or both.
The outside linebacker position was hoped to be one of the strengths of the defense with Melvin Ingram entering his sophomore season and the addition of Dwight Freeney in free agency. The team already had a dominant edge-setter in Jarret Johnson as well. Then on May 2nd, the team’s second day of OTAs, Ingram tore his ACL.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Freeney was lost for the year during the week 4 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. The Chargers were then starting Johnson and rookie sixth round draft pick Tourek Williams. As mentioned above, Johnson is solid against the run and constantly disrupting running lanes to the edge, but he is not what one would consider to be a threat as a pass rusher. Despite the high-motor play of Williams, he was a rookie making the transition for collegiate defensive end in a 4-3 to an NFL outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The learning curve appeared to be steep at times for the former Florida International product.
Without being certain what the future will hold for Freeney, the Chargers could look to add a future stud to the outside linebacking corps. Although Freeney is under contract through the 2014 season, there is no guarantee that he won’t retire or the team could even decide to part ways with him due to age and injury concerns.
Now on to the final portion of the Charger defense. Going into the 2013 season the defensive line was thought to be the strongest segment of the entire team. Although this would be the first year that Cam Thomas would be used as a starting nose tackle, he had the benefit of being flanked by both Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes.
The defensive line was a bit of a let down, as a whole, for a good portion of the year. Liuget had a good year and seemed to be playing through injury in the first few games of the season. He did begin to turn out it on and wreak havoc in the opposing team’s backfields as the season wore on. He put up respectable numbers for a 3-4 defensive end but 2013 showed that he needs better support from his linemates.
Thomas had a tough time making his mark and was bullied at the point of attack at times. The 2013 season could have been the last year that Thomas will be in lightning bolts. Michael Gehlken of UT San Diego has already been on record saying that he doesn’t anticipate Thomas will be re-signed by the Chargers.
The importance of a dominant nose tackle in a 3-4 cannot be overstated enough. For the 3-4 to be successful, you must have a space-eater that can take on double teams and win while collapsing the pocket. At this point, San Diego does not have anyone on the roster capable of doing a sufficient job at the position.
Then comes the play of Kendall Reyes. After seeing his outstanding play in 2012, this season was a let down of sorts for Reyes. He didn’t seem nearly as explosive and I didn’t see the same tenacity when engaging at the point of attack. He was able to make some plays but much more was expected of him. Again, this could be the lack of an impact made by Thomas in the middle. The hope is that we’ll see a rejuvenated Reyes in 2014.
In conclusion, the needs on the defensive side of the football seem to be obvious and the most prominent of those are at nose tackle and cornerback. There are some depth needs at inside and outside linebacker. The team may also need to look at adding another safety to the mix for depth purposes as well.
Thanks a lot for reading and in the next day or so I’ll be breaking down the needs for the Charger offense going into the 2014 offseason. This team overachieved in 2013 but it has a solid foundation to build upon for the future. I have complete faith in Telesco to do what it takes to bring the Chargers back into the upper echelon of the NFL. Hopefully he can get the Chargers back to the promised land and San Diego may bolt into the Super bowl and bring back the Vince Lombardi trophy to America’s finest city.
Only time will tell.
I recently had an opportunity to visit Murphy Canyon to watch the Chargers in Training Camp. I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding a few players that stood out that afternoon.
Philip Rivers: Rivers looked in mid-season form. Being only a few feet away from the field. You can hear the tight spirals he delivered 25 yards down the field, as you heard the snap of the pads off of Eddie Royal making a tip toe catch on the sideline.
Rivers showed good accuracy and a powerful arm throughout the day.
The Chargers offense worked on the 2-minute drill throughout the day. Rivers had a nice deep pass over the right side of the field as he found Antonio Gates open for a gorgeous over the shoulder-catch.
Ronnie Brown: What can Brown do for you? A lot! I never realized how big Brown is. Watching the individual running back drills, I really appreciated the size and power of Ronnie Brown. He has the best hands of the group and is extremely powerful and agile for a man his size. If I didn’t know any better, I thought I was watching a 25-year-old running back. Brown definitely has a lot of tread left on the tires. I anticipate him having a big year for the Bolts. I’m still hoping we can run a bit of Wildcat with him close to the goal line. Having Gates, Mathews, Woodhead as weapons, Brown can make the Wildcat work in San Diego.
Danny Woodhead: Woodhead is built a little thicker than I realized after only watching him on video. His quickness reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles. Woodhead made a number of plays out of the backfield. Woodhead caught multiple Rivers’ short passes, consistently juking out the first defender and running to daylight. Woodhead has a great burst and is difficult to contain. He should be a key playmaker on this offense as linebackers will have a difficult time covering him out of the backfield.
Danario Alexander: Without a doubt, Rivers targets Alexander. He did it consistently throughout the afternoon practice. On a 3rd and 14 play during the 2-minute drill, Rivers found Alexander at the left seam for a successful 1st down conversion. Alexander was open all day long as he ran sharp routes, and consistently found the soft spot in the coverage. Alexander caught everything thrown his way. You can tell that Rivers has full confidence in him and will be targeting him.
Dark horse roster spot: I absolutely love receiver Mike Willie. Big number 10 is tall, thick, fast and has hands like glue. He made multiple one-handed catches of Charlie Whitehurst’s passes, raising ooh’s and ahh’s from the spectators. The kid likes to talk and backs his plate up. He is too athletic and too good of a talent to hide away on the practice squad. I’m pushing for Willie to make it on the 53-man active roster.
Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green: The veteran and the 2nd year player are dominant. A perfect balance of a wise veteran who has plenty of juice left in Gates, and an up and coming athletic Tight End in Green, that has the soft hands of a receiver. I am looking forward to seeing Green’s contribution to the offense this year. Love to see both of these guys on the field at the same time. Match up nightmare for defenses. Rivers is smiling ear to ear.
Dwight Freeney: Utilizing his patented spin move. Freeney was a menace to the offensive line, disrupting rookie right tackle DJ Fluker, as he ended up in the face of Rivers consistently. Freeney looks good playing the outside backer role, as he continues to rush the passer and disrupt the offensive backfield.
Corey Liuget & Kendall Reyes: These two anchors on the D-Line are young, strong and bring athleticism from the heart of the defense. They are very active up front and a combination of their speed and strength placed a lot of pressure on the Chargers offensive line throughout the afternoon. I’m anticipating a great year from the front 3 this year. Don’t sleep on NT Kwame Geathers. He is all of the 6’6, 335 pound mountain of a man. He is country strong and athletic for his large frame. The rotation of Geathers and big Cam Thomas on the nose will keep this front fresh and vibrant throughout the game.
Eric Weddle and Donald Butler: Definitely the two leaders of the defense and arguably the most talented defensive playmakers on the Charger squad. They made their presence known as they flew to the ball and showcased the aggressive mentality needed to play that side of the ball.
Manti Te’o: Te’o was tested a few times as he covered tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Te’o did a pretty good job of defending passes directed his way. He did not see him make any spectacular plays, but pretty much had a steady afternoon.
It was an incredible opportunity to watch Chargers practice. The speed of the game can only be appreciated when you are that close to the action. If you ever get an opportunity to make the trek to San Diego, visit Murphy Canyon with the family and make sure to stay until the end in order grab a few autographs.
After the San Diego’s last selection on draft day, another period just as hectic began. Undrafted free agents were going left and right. The Chargers were able to lock up a couple of notable players who were not called during the draft. Let’s take a look at some who may have potential to have an impact on the team.
Courtney Gardner WR, Sierra College
A wide receiver I had high regards for was scooped up by the Chargers. A contract could not be agreed upon and talks fell through, thus resulting in both parties going separate ways.
Marcus Cromartie DB, Wisconsin
Yes, Cromartie. Yes, Antonio Cromartie’s cousin. As well and Dominique Rodgers-Cromarties’ cousin. This Wisconsin cornerback has the biggest chip on his shoulder. Having not been invited to the scouting combine, he only had a pro-day to prove his NFL worth to scouts. He maximized that opportunity, running a 4.35 40 yard dash. The 6’1″, 192 lbs DB understands that he must find his way onto the 53 man roster through special teams.
Be on the lookout for an upcoming interview with Marcus on BoltBlitz.com
Kwame Geathers NT, Georgia
A big steal for the Chargers. Geathers is a SEC Nose Tackle who is already familiar with 3-4 defense. Kwame is a 6’6″ 342 lbs guy who more than fits the bill for ideal size. He is probably the player with the highest chances of making the 53 man roster.
Michael Hill RB, Missouri Western State
The first word that came to my mind when I saw the footage on this Missouri Western State RB was: Strong. Hill was a runner up to the DII equivalent of the Heisman trophy. This 5’10”, 209 pound back will try to begin to earn a roster spot this weekend as rookies report for training camp.
Byron Jerideau DT, South Carolina
This is yet another steal at the defensive tackle position. Jerideau is very different from fellow SEC and now teammate tackle, Geathers. Jerideau is 6’0″ 334 lbs. He will bring more of an agile type of game to the field as opposed to Geathers’ power though he is able to move as well. Another thing Byron has in common with Kwame is their chances of making the roster. A skimp lineup on the defensive line all but guarantees these two to make it past training camp.
Josh Johnson CB, Purdue
A corner many saw would be a great steal as a late round pick, became absolute larceny as an undrafted free agent. He definitely has a lot to work on but his weaknesses are coachable. He will make noise at special teams first and prove himself to be a viable corner in the NFL.
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