Every year, fans of all 32 teams view their club’s chances of success through rose-colored glasses.
Hope is free. Fantasy is free. Reality is a brutal heart punch from Bruce Lee.
Only one will live to tell the tale of winning the Holy Grail, the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy.
In Bolt Nation, we all know the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. No logical fan is projecting the Chargers to win the Super Bowl. Win the AFC West? That’s a different story altogether.
The Denver Broncos dominance over the AFC West has coincided with the 2012 arrival of then free agent quarterback Peyton Manning. During their current four-year reign as kings of the AFC West, Manning has been at the helm for the last three AFC West pennants. Now entering his 18th NFL season, Manning and the Broncos are looking to keep their division stranglehold intact.
Easier said than done.
Last season, cracks began to show in the Broncos’ armor. Losses on both side of the ball took a toll and the 12-4 Broncos weren’t able to take advantage of their second seeding in the conference. Denver lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to Indianapolis. Despite the proficiency of the Manning-led passing attack, the Broncos were only able to muster 13 points at home in the loss.
Now more than ever, the pendulum looks to be swinging in the Chargers’ favor in their quest to take back the AFC West.
Consider these key factors:
Peyton Manning vs. Philip Rivers: What’s not to like about two old school gunslingers standing toe-to-toe and letting their arms do the talking? This has been one of the best (and most underrated) quarterback duels in the NFL. Manning entered the league five seasons before Rivers, who didn’t take over the reins of the Chargers until year three of his pro career.
Rivers was the understudy to Drew Brees for two seasons before Brees left for New Orleans. In reality, the two have been facing each other as starting quarterbacks for ten seasons when this season begins.
The difference is starting to show.
Last season, the whispers of Manning’s deteriorating arm strength became roars as the Broncos finished the season. In the last eight games including their playoff loss, Manning threw 11 touchdowns including three games where he only threw one touchdown and two games where he did not throw a touchdown at all. Eight interceptions during that stretch of games also fed into speculation of his decline in accuracy, long a Manning trademark. Last season’s fifteen interceptions were the most Peyton has thrown as a Bronco.
In an odd bit of symmetry between the two rivals, both quarterbacks had potential MVP caliber seasons curtailed by injuries they played through. Manning suffered a quadriceps injury and Rivers had undisclosed back and rib injuries. Rivers is now healthy and armed with a new contract extension that will allow him to retire as a Charger. Manning decided to return after long offseason deliberation as his retirement from the game looks imminent. Rumors of the Broncos and Houston Texans discussing a trade of Manning leaked during the offseason. Eventually, this was dismissed as a simple ‘inquiry’ on the part of the Texans.
Rivers is in the prime of his career and the Chargers are all-in on surrounding him with enough talent to earn the veteran signal caller a Super Bowl ring. Now in the third year of the McCoy-Telesco regime, the Chargers have had back-to-back 9-7 seasons. Choosing to rebuild with youth, only one-third of the current roster (including practice squad) is over the age of 27 years old. The Broncos are also all-in on Manning, but chose to make their push by bringing in big name free agents. DE Demarcus Ware, CBs Aqib Talib and Quentin Jammer, S T.J. Ward, and WRs Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker were all Manning-era signings.
Denver backfield vs. San Diego backfield: The Broncos will rely heavily on the legs of C.J. Anderson. Anderson emerged as the go-to back during the season, making the final seven starts. Leading the Broncos with 849 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in 2014, Anderson is also a threat receiving the ball. Last season he had 34 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns. There isn’t much behind Anderson, now entering his third season out of California. Last season’s starting running back, Montee Ball, was cut by the Broncos. SDSU alum Ronnie Hillman is the only veteran rusher on the roster right now. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Hillman is not capable of being the every down back the Broncos expect Anderson to be.
Expectations for San Diego’s number one draft pick Melvin Gordon are high. The rookie didn’t even have two dozen carries in the preseason. Still, Gordon has earned the confidence of the coaches and veteran players throughout training camp and preseason. While Gordon is expected to assume an every-down role at some point, it has been made clear by the coaches the Chargers will have a running-back-by-committee approach. Danny Woodhead will contribute as a pass-catching, third-down specialist out of the backfield and Branden Oliver will be a change-of-pace back. Donald Brown is a depth player who has been an every-down back in the past.
Denver receivers vs. San Diego receivers: Denver features one of the top-five receivers in the league in speedster Demaryius Thomas. On the opposite side, Emmanuel Sanders will start and Andre Caldwell would be first off the bench in a three-receiver set. Behind them, second-year pro Cody Latimer will be looking to breakout this season.
San Diego will feature third-year pro Keenan Allen, who will be looking to bounce back from what was a down year by his standards. Allen had 77 receptions for 783 yards and four touchdowns, down from his rookie season where he topped 1000 yards with eight touchdowns on 71 catches. Ten-year veteran Malcom Floyd will look to go out with a bang after announcing he will retire after this season. The Chargers brought in Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones to fill in the void left by Eddie Royal in the slot and in the return game, respectively.
Denver pass rush vs. San Diego pass rush: Denver has one of the league’s most intimidating tandems of edge rushers in defensive ends Von Miller and Demarcus Ware. The bookends combined for 24 of Denver’s 41 sacks last season. Containing them is will be the focus of every offensive coordinator.
Whereas the Broncos depends on a pair of elite veteran pass rushers, the Chargers will look to young pass rushers to hurry Manning and other opposing signal callers. Melvin Ingram, Jerry Attaochu, Corey Liuget and rookie Kyle Emanuel will lead the charge to get the future Hall-Of-Famer sacked or throwing incompletions. San Diego finished near the bottom of the NFL with 26 sacks last season and the top Charger sacker was Liuget with 4.5.
Denver secondary vs. San Diego secondary: The Denver Broncos have what could be considered a top-five starting cornerback duo in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Both have the ability to shut down opposing receivers due to their solid coverage. Talib is one of the more physical corners in the NFL, while Harris can run with the best, showcasing strong ball skills and fluid hips.
After re-signing Brandon Flowers this offseason, the Chargers also have a top-five cornerback duo with him and Jason Verrett. The second-year Verrett is among one of the more exciting defenders at his position in the game. Many around the NFL believe that, if healthy, this will be a breakout season for the former Horned Frog. It doesn’t hurt the Bolts that they also have the best free safety in the league, Eric Weddle.
Now, more so than any season since the AFC West arrival of Peyton Manning, the Chargers are ready and more than capable of reclaiming the top spot. The Broncos have the advantage on defense, but the Chargers have a significant edge on offense. A home split is the most probable outcome.
What do you think? Will the Chargers catch the Broncos this season?
The Greg One
The Chargers announced the practice-participation levels of the team on Wednesday in the first injury report of the week.
Did not participate in practice:
- S Jahleel Addae – Ankle
- RG D.J. Fluker – Ankle
- WR/KR Jacoby Jones – Ankle
- OL Johnnie Troutman – Arm
- OLB Tourek Williams – Foot
Limited participation in practice:
- OLB Kyle Emanuel – Shoulder
- CB Brandon Flowers – Knee
Full participation in practice:
- OLB Jerry Attaochu – Hamstring
- CB Craig Mager – Hamstring
The injuries to Troutman and Williams have been known for quite sometime. The hope is that Troutman may be ready to return as soon as week 3. Suffering a broken foot in the middle of August, no timetable has been set for Williams to return.
With Addae, Fluker and Jones all sustaining ankle injuries, the team would be lacking three starters going into the week 2 contest against the Cincinnati Bengals.
According to Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune, Addae seems upbeat despite being in a walking boot on Monday. Should he miss this Sunday’s game, the defense would rely on Jimmy Wilson to start and Darrell Stuckey to provide depth at the strong safety spot.
The loss of Fluker on the offensive line is a big one. The team will need to shuffle around some parts, sliding Chris Watt over to right guard and starting Trevor Robinson at center, or plug in Chris Hairston in place of the injured Fluker. The former first-round draft pick suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Lions. He is expected to miss between four and six weeks.
The ankle injury for Jones means, if he is unable to play, that either Branden Oliver or Danny Woodhead will be returning kickoffs, while Keenan Allen will be returning punts. I am not a fan of any of those three players being involved in the return game. That’s not to say that they are incapable of making plays, I just don’t like the risk of injury involved for three players that will figure heavily into the offensive gameplan.
Leaving the game against the Lions in the fourth quarter, rookie Kyle Emanuel suffered a shoulder sprain. Reports are stating that the injury isn’t too serious, but the outside linebacking corps is already sans Williams, and Attaochu missed the season-opener with a hamstring injury.
Speaking of Attaochu, it is very encouraging that he was a full participant in practice. If both he and Emanuel are healthy and ready to go, which player will be inserted into the starting lineup? My thought is that both will be used in some fashion.
The injury bug decimated the Chargers all over the roster in 2014, especially the offensive line. It has already began to sneak into Chargers Park and leave its stink on the team.
Here’s to hoping it takes off to Oakland, Kansas City or Denver.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Let me start by saying that I am not a big fan of power rankings. That can certainly be confirmed in that they are a waste of time when done during the preseason or the first few weeks of the regular season.
That being said, it is kind of nice to see the Chargers receive some praise from the national media.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com elevated the Bolts two spots into the 11th position of his most recent power rankings. The team was formerly slated in the 13th hole out of the league’s 32 teams.
After an impressive come-from-behind win over the Lions on Sunday, here’s what Harrison had to say regarding the Chargers:
“Panic? Maybe. Character? Check. Big win? Absolutely. San Diego was resilient enough to come back from a 21-3 deficit against a team that certainly has the makings of a playoff squad. The AFC West is going to be a three-way fight, and the Chargers have as strong a shot as the Broncos and Chiefs.”
Harrison is right that this was a big win. In years past, the team from San Diego might have folded after being down by a deficit of 21-3.
That was not the case on White Hot Sunday.
After what many considered to be a terrible first half, and rightfully so, Philip Rivers and company rebounded scoring 30 unanswered points.
Rivers threw two interceptions in the first half, the second being a horrendous attempt to Malcom Floyd that was terribly underthrown and easily picked off.
Although the offense notched two scores on the ground, it was limited to 95 yards rushing. Woodhead scored both rushing touchdowns, while rookie Melvin Gordon had a team-high 52 yards rushing.
Despite a rushing attack that was a bit underwhelming, the Charger air attack was potent and effective.
Rivers was 35-42 through the air, throwing for 404 yards and two passing scores. He did not turn the ball over in the second half.
The receiving corps proved to be a force to be reckoned with. Keenan Allen exploded, tying a team record with 15 receptions. Those grabs were good for 166 yards. Stevie Johnson showed that Tom Telesco made a solid acquisition by hauling in six catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Ladarius Green was a force in the absence of Antonio Gates, snagging five receptions for 74 yards and a score.
The defense, despite giving up 28 points, made some key stops; the most impressive of which was a diving interception by rookie Kyle Emanuel after Melvin Ingram steamrolled quarterback Matthew Stafford. The first-year pro also recorded the team’s only sack. The secondary was solid, holding Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate to a combined six receptions for 63 yards.
When going over the game, the 11th ranking by Harrison seems about right. Although the Chargers are not listed as a top-10 squad, their seeding would still have them as a playoff-caliber team. There are six AFC teams laced above them; meaning they would just miss the playoffs in this scenario.
Enough of this crap. As we head into week 2, the Chargers have one game in the win column as they prepare to play the Bengals in Cincinnati.
Thanks a lot for reading.
Articles from Chargers.com:
- Vote Philip Rivers FedEx Player of Week 1!
- Kyle Emanuel up for Pepsi Rookie of the Week
- Scouting Report: Chargers at Bengals
Articles from Eric Williams of ESPN.com:
- With D.J. Fluker out, Chris Hairston next man up
- San Diego, St. Louis won’t make stadium pitches to owners
- Ladarius Green makes most of his opportunity
Articles from The San Diego Union-Tribune:
- Chargers notes: Kyle Emanuel no ordinary rookie
- Chargers hold QB edge over Bengals
- Rivers again goes from grating to great
He may be “just a fifth rounder”, but Kyle Emanuel went about his business throughout OTAs, minicamp and preseason to prove his worth. His hard work, determination and attention to detail all culminated with his name being listed in the release of the Chargers’ 53-man roster.
Hallelujah, he made the cut!
His outstanding preseason play was only the lead-in to a stellar debut that saw the 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker do the following: sack Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, nab himself an interception, make three tackles and mess with Stafford’s rhythm. The second quarter sack (a 13-yard loss) caused the Lions to punt. The pick-6 came in the third quarter and the Chargers took over at midfield. Two of the three tackles resulted in lost yardage and the disruption caused a misfire by Stafford that resulted in an interception by cornerback Patrick Robinson. The turnover led to a Stevie Johnson touchdown.
This outing has him nominated for Pepsi Rookie of the Week.
Emanuel played his collegiate ball at North Dakota State University. While there, NDSU had a 58-3 record and won four consecutive NCAA championships (2011-2014). Individually, the former Bison defensive end amassed 234 tackles, 35.5 sacks, 58.5 tackles for loss and two blocked field goals. In his senior year, he led the FCS in tackles for loss (32.5) and sacks (19.5). He was named the Buck Buchanon Award winner for 2014, given to the most outstanding defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Now, along with Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attachou and Cordarro Law, he is one of the four who will comprise the 2015 outside linebacking corps for San Diego. That unit last year combined for 46 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and a lonely sole defended pass. His adeptness as a pass-rusher, complemented with his instincts, athleticism and quickness, certainly did not go unnoticed. An upgrade for that squad was writing on the wall for Bolts general manager Tom Telesco, thus leading him to choose the youngster with the 153rd overall pick this past May.
After the draft, Emanuel had this to say about his preparation:
“No team I talked to told me I’d be a 4-3 defensive end, so everything I’ve been doing has been to make the switch. I worked on standing up in a two-point (stance) and worked with my linebackers coach at NDSU just to learn terminology. That way, things wouldn’t be so foreign when I got drafted. So ever since the process started I started that transition, and now that I’m here, I can already tell it’s getting easier day by day.”
San Diego Chargers Linebacker Coach Mike Nolan says that for his unit, “The biggest change and the thing they have to spend more time in is in coverage. That really is the biggest difference when you go from a defensive lineman to a linebacker. It’s that there is coverage involved. If you are a linebacker that just rushed every down, then there is less adjustment. But for Kyle, the coverage will be a big part. Now in the short time thus far, he’s done an outstanding job. Not just a regular job, but an outstanding job, so we’re all very pleased with where he is in the short term. We are hopeful that progress continues at the same pace, and he would surpass some expectations from a coverage standpoint.”
Obviously, this kid is something special. My advice: keep your eyes peeled on the guy wearing No. 51 on his chest and back, sporting lightning bolts. He looks to be a force on San Diego’s D.
Thanks for reading and Bolt Up!
There are a lot of candidates for the Chargers to have a breakout season. Narrowing it down to just five guys is a very tough project. But here are my choices for the five that will most likely breakout.
Quick note: I am not putting Ingram in this, although I do believe he will breakout. I wrote about that separately. You can read it here.
5.) Center, Chris Watt
Chris Watt has been selected by the Chargers’ coaching staff to be the heir apparent to Nick Hardwick. He played in a few games there last season (as did 4 other centers) before ending his season with an injury. From all the reports I have read, it seems like the former Notre Dame guard is picking up the center position very quickly and looks to be a very solid replacement.
4.) Nose Tackle, Ryan Carrethers
Ryan Carrethers, a fifth-round draft selection in 2014, is a very big and athletic nose tackle. He was starting to understand the pro game last season, coming into his own before his season ended with a dislocated elbow in the week 11 game versus the Raiders. I think he eventually takes over the starting NT job from Sean Lissemore, and has a very nice impact on stopping the run on defense.
3.) Inside linebacker, Manti Te’o
With the addition of linebackers coach Mike Nolan, you could really add any LB here. I went with Te’o because he seemed to improve his played late during the 2014 campaign. He was having a really nice year last year after coming back off a foot injury. If he can stay healthy this season, expect him to continue to hone his skills and become a solid force for years to come.
2.) Wide Receiver, Stevie Johnson
Stevie Johnson had really fallen off the map after his three best seasons in Buffalo. Those strong years were followed by two sub-par seasons; one with Buffalo, and one with San Francisco. Stevie Johnson signed a three-year deal with San Diego in the offseason. Philip Rivers and Johnson have built a strong rapport in the few months they have been working together. Look for a huge season from SJ11.
1.) Cornerback, Jason Verrett
Jason Verrett is going to have a monster season….. if he stays healthy. He has all the ability and talent to become a legitimate No. 1, lockdown cornerback. The one big flaw to his game is he needs to cut down on the big hits and keep himself healthy, a thing that has hurt him his senior year at TCU and his rookie season in the NFL. I do think Verrett has learned from his past injuries and now will focus on staying healthy. He will have the biggest impact on this Chargers team in 2015. He will lead a unit that comes in with big expectations (from me), and I believe they will live up to those.
Honorable mentions: LB Donald Butler, OLB Kyle Emanuel, S Jahleel Addae, WR Keenan Allen
Who do you think will breakout this season? Let me know below!
The 2015 San Diego Chargers are coming in motivated after ending a disappointing 2014 season with a 9-7 record. Despite a 6-1 start, the team was not able to overcome a plethora of injuries all over the roster. The running game was practically non-existent, and Philip Rivers needed to do too much to keep the Bolts in games.
They have upgraded their team tremendously, bringing in two new starting offensive lineman (Orlando Franklin and Joe Barksdale), a slot receiver (Stevie Johnson), an elite returner (Jacoby Jones) and a possible starting safety (Jimmy Wilson). The Chargers also drafted a starting running back and one they hope will be a star (Melvin Gordon). However, the main guy that the team needs to stay healthy and produce is outside linebacker Melvin Ingram.
When healthy, Ingram is a difference maker for this defense. During the seven games that Melvin missed, the defense gave up an average of 235 passing yards per game with 1.9 passing touchdowns allowed per game. During the nine games that Melvin played, the defense gave up an average of 212 passing yards per game and 1.2 passing touchdowns allowed per game.
As you can see, the former Gamecock is a big part of defensive coordinator John Pagano’s defense. He is the one guy who can get constant pressure on the quarterback and can take the double and triple team off of Corey Liuget. Not only is Ingram very important to Liuget, but he is a leader on the field. He can also pass on what he learned from Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney to help the development of Jerry Attaochu and this year’s fifth-round pick, Kyle Emanuel.
“Supa-Mel”, as he likes to call himself, is the Chargers best pass rusher from the outside linebacker position. I do think he is poised for a breakout season. With the muscle he gained and the weight he lost, he just needs to show it on the field.
Ingram, 26, has only played in 13 games over the last two seasons. Flashing the ability to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks at times, the four-year veteran knows that he has to stay on the field to prove that he was worth the first-round selection in the 2012 draft.
Over his career, Ingram has recorded 78 total tackles, six sacks, seven passes defensed and four forced fumbles.
Look for a big year from this defense if Ingram stays healthy for all 16 games. Don’t be surprised if he registers a double-digit sack total in 2015.
Who do you think is the x-factor for the Chargers’ defense this season?
Let me know in the comments below!
It has been a long and difficult wait, but it is almost over. Chargers football returns on Thursday, August 13th, at 7:00 pm at the Q. The team’s first preseason contest will be against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Chargers selected five men in this year’s NFL draft. I am going to break down what to look for from each of them in their season debuts.
The Bolts made a bit of a splash when they traded up to select Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon with the 15th overall pick. After that, it was all defense, as they had a lot of holes to fill. The team selected inside linebacker Denzel Perryman, cornerback Craig Mager, linebacker Kyle Emanuel, and defensive end Darius Philon.
1st round pick – Melvin Gordon: Yes, Gordon is a rookie. But he’s slated to be the main ball carrier for the Chargers this year. Although he is expected to receive the majority of snaps during the regular season, I wouldn’t expect to see a whole lot of playing time for him in this one.
What to watch for: Look to see if Melvin shows some patience, allowing his blocks to form in front of him instead of constantly trying to bounce it to the outside like he did a lot in college. Look to see how his pass protection is, and keep an eye on his hands in passing game. There have reports of him dropping a few balls in practice. Prediction: 10-12 touches with 40 yards rushing.
2nd round pick – Denzel Perryman: Perryman was brought in for one main reason: To knock somebody’s block off. He is here to bring toughness and nastiness to a defense that has been lacking just that since Steve Foley was in San Diego. Look for some big hits from the former Hurricane, but don’t expect him to be on the field during obvious passing downs.
What to watch for: Look for Perryman to be on the field on first and second down, trying to stop the run. Keep an eye on his tackling form and how he brings the hurt. Prediction: 25-40 snaps with seven tackles.
3rd round pick – Craig Mager: There’s no nice way to put it, but Mager has struggled mightily in training camp, getting marginally better as the days go on. He’s got a lot of work to do in order to impress this coaching staff. The only spot that Mager seems to be having some success is at nickel corner.
What to watch for: Look for Mager to be covering kickoffs and sprinkled in at slot corner. Like I said earlier, he’s got a lot of work to do. Prediction: 15-20 snaps with two tackles.
5th Round pick – Kyle Emanuel: Emanuel was drafted to add pass rush and potentially help set the edge against the run. Emanuel has looked pretty sharp in practice, showing off some very good pass rushing moves.
What to watch for: Look for Emanuel to be in there rushing the passer. He’s going in to take the quarterback’s head off. Watch for the spin move, as many people have said that it’s NFL-quality. Prediction: 20-30 snaps, five tackles and one sack.
6th round pick – Darius Philon: Philon was selected to help add some push to the defensive line. Reports from camp say that the young man has worked very hard in camp, shows good push and looks strong.
What to watch for: Look for Philon to be a part of the rotation along the defensive line with Mitch Unrein, Ryan Carrethers and others. Since he is a late-round pick, look for him to play the majority of the game. Prediction: 50+ snaps with six tackles.
Well, that will put a wrap on my Chargers versus Cowboys 2015 draft pick preview.
After six long months, it is my pleasure to say that football is BACK!!
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this article.
Day eight of training camp is in the books. As Mike McCoy would say, the players worked extremely hard.
Despite the fact that they weren’t tackling to the ground, it was a very physical practice today.
Here are some notes and observations from today’s practice.
– Players that didn’t practice: Ricardo Mathews, Malcom Floyd, Johnnie Troutman. Brandon Flowers and Patrick Robinson did a little work on the side. They were not full-participants in practice.
– Dontrelle Inman continues to impress, making difficult catches look easy.
– The pace at which Philip Rivers and Stevie Johnson are building a strong rapport is impressive.
– Johnson is a very crafty route runner, getting open far more often than not.
– Melvin Gordon is still adjusting to life in the NFL. He has shown a propensity to be impatient, running into the backs of his offensive linemen often. As mentioned in other posts, he has flashed some special ability, but building patience in the running game should be a focus moving forward.
– John Phillips looks much quicker now that his knee injury is fully recovered. He’ll be on the field more than expected during the first four weeks of the season while Antonio Gates sits out.
– Danny Woodhead looks to be back to where he was prior to suffering a broken fibula in week three of last season. He looks very quick in his cuts and seems to be doing great.
– Joe Barksdale seems to be a solid addition to the offensive line. With Troutman out, his reps increased and he held up respectably in both run and pass blocking.
– Daily camp update: Brock Hekking has amazing hair.
– Melvin Ingram is benefiting from playing at a lighter weight. He is constantly creating good push and getting what would be sacks if it was live play.
– Kyle Emanuel looks physical and has made some impressive plays in one-on-one drills again today.
– Craig Mager had two pass breakups on consecutive plays.
– After struggling in pass coverage the other day, Jimmy Wilson rebounded well.
– Regardless of what day of practice it has been, Jason Verrett always stands out.
– Ladarius Green made a few catches, but wasn’t targeted much throughout practice.
– Lowell Rose had a solid day in the secondary, breaking up multiple passes in team drills.
– Jacoby Jones is most likely going to be used at wide receiver more than I originally expected. It’s not that he’s out their with the first team, but he gets open and makes plays when called upon to do so.
– Joe D’Alessandris makes watching the offensive-line drills very enjoyable.
– On another coaching note, Don Johnson spends a good amount of time slowing things down for the defensive linemen, stopping to talk to the group as a whole, often. He seems like a great teacher.
There you have it. Overall, it was a solid day for many of the Chargers’ players. Without getting ahead of myself, there is something about this team that has me thinking that this could be a special year.
Football is back.
Although there was the obvious stadium chatter among the fans, it was easy to just keep my eyes on the field — maybe except when I “accidentally” recorded that good-looking girl walking by — and concentrate on Charger football.
There was no tackling, the players were in shorts and the play calling was very vanilla.
All of that being said, without over-evaluating the guys after their first day, there were some takeaways after day one of training camp.
Here are some notes and observations.
– Many of the players, including Keenan Allen and Jacoby Jones, started having fun as soon as they stepped out onto the practice field.
– There were ZERO players working on the side. For a team that seems to be missing crucial players due to injury quite often, it was incredibly refreshing.
– Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle were up to their usual jawing.
– Jason Verrett looked to be the fastest player out there.
– First offensive play was a completed drag route from Rivers to Ladarius Green.
– Melvin Gordon has a long way to go, but you can tell he has the tools to be special.
– The team rotated DJ Fluker and Joe Barksdale at right tackle in early phases of practice.
– Although Barksdale also saw some action at right guard, Johnnie Troutman was primarily out there with the first-team offense at the position.
– Stevie Johnson wears a weird hood on the outside of his helmet. Not sure why.
– Stevie made a highlight-reel catch on a play where Stevie Williams had solid coverage on him.
– Craig Mager realized that he is no longer at North Texas. He struggled often.
– Gates made a few solid plays. He had one toe-tapping grab on the sideline on a well-placed pass from Rivers.
– Kyle Emanuel was on the first-team for punt coverage.
– Denzel Perryman knocked down a pass over the middle.
– Jacoby Jones can run.
– Danny Woodhead looked quick and explosive. Nice to see him back.
– Similar to Woodhead, Branden Oliver was quick in and out of cuts.
– Craig Watts — in as a reserve left guard — had two straight plays in a row where he did a solid job opening holes in the running game, and good protection on a pass play.
– Orlando Franklin had a great practice. I am so glad he’s a Charger.
– Team speed has increased via acquired players and returning players coming back healthy.
– Titus Davis, a player I’ve written about a couple of times, looked good, catching the ball well.
– The cornerback position is deep at this point.
– Brad Sorensen wasn’t there for the early stages of practice, as his wife gave birth to their second child.
As mentioned above, it is way too premature to do anything other than throw out some first-day observations. But as long as we aren’t talking about the stadium situation, the team not extending Weddle’s contract, the Gates’ suspension or Rivers being hesitant to work out a long-term deal, I’m perfectly fine with throwing together some notes about today’s practice.
I’ll be there again tomorrow, and my major hope is the same that it is each day the Chargers practice: Just stay healthy.
Thanks a lot for reading.