Mike Scifres

kaser2

 

Rookie punter and 2016 sixth-round pick Drew Kaser had a game to forget against the Oakland Raiders in Week 5.

The former Aggie botched a punt late in the third quarter of the game, netting only 16 yards on the punt and setting up the Raiders for what would be a touchdown in the early part of the fourth quarter.

Though that gaffe was excruciatingly difficult to watch, his next error was even more depressing.

The Chargers, after fighting back to get within a field goal of the Raiders, worked their way into field-goal territory with just about a minute left in the game, positioning kicker Josh Lambo for a 36-yard field-goal attempt.

The special teams unit lines up…. the ball is snapped…. and the holder, Kaser, muffed the snap and the game would end in a 34-31 loss, as the Raiders ran out the remaining time on the clock.

This performance by Kaser has fans murmuring about bringing back the organization’s best punter of all-time, Mike Scifres.

Obviously, Kaser is not even close to the only reason why the Bolts lost that game. There were many other factors which helped to contribute to another gut-wrenching loss.

On Wednesday, head coach Mike McCoy announced that second-string quarterback Kellen Clemens will be taking over holding duties for the Chargers, replacing Kaser, who once was the holder for Lambo while the two were teammates at Texas A&M.

Clemens had been a holder earlier in his career with the Jets, and he said that he’s been practicing holds often.

“You stay ready for everything,” Clemens said via The San Diego Union-Tribune, who fielded long snaps from Mike Windt after practice Tuesday. “I took some holds today, but I’ve been taking holds every week, just nobody has been paying attention.”

After having a strong preseason where Kaser was booming punts down the field for an average of over 54 yards per punt, the rook has struggled mightily during the regular season, averaging only 39.1 yards per punt.

In a game where field possession is so critical to a team’s success, 39 yards per punt is not good enough.

Though the Chargers are taking away Kaser’s job as the holder, he will remain the club’s punter, for now. Should the youngster continue to struggle, don’t be surprised if the Bolts bring in some free-agent veterans to workout for the position.

 

Thanks a lot for reading.

 

Dave Booga Peters

 

kaser1

 

Let me begin this by saying that the drafting of punter Drew Kaser allowed me to have a sixth consecutive year of predicting a specific player to be drafted by the Chargers.

I mocked Kaser to the Bolts, but I had them taking him in the seventh round.

 

 

As much love and respect as I have for former punter extraordinaire Mike Scifres, his skills began to diminish and the cap savings the team would receive should he be cut were substantial — right around $3.5 million, I believe.

The Bolts made the move, drafting Kaser and informing Scifres of the decision on the third day of the draft via telephone.

The former Texas A&M Aggie had a phenomenal collegiate career, breaking Shane Lechler’s school records in multiple categories, finishing second all-time in NCAA history in punting average at 46.2 yards per punt.

 

Punting & Kicking **

Punting Kicking
Year School Conf Class Pos G Punts Yds Avg XPM XPA XP% FGM FGA FG% Pts
*2011 Texas A&M Big 12 FR K 1 2 91 45.5
*2013 Texas A&M SEC SO P 12 44 2085 47.4 0 0 0 0 0
*2014 Texas A&M SEC JR P 13 62 2737 44.1 0 0 0 0 0
*2015 Texas A&M SEC SR P 12 60 2848 47.5 0 0 0 0 0
Career Texas A&M 168 7761 46.2 0 0 0 0 0

** Chart shared via sports-reference.com

 

Below is an excerpt from Chargers.com from head coach Mike McCoy on Kaser:

 

“Drew is the guy we wanted moving forward with,” McCoy said.  “He did a nice job in the practices and the time he has been here.  There is a reason we picked him where we did…  I like his leg. You want a great kick all the time, and he is going to learn things (with) situational football (and) the way we do things.  Seeing the early parts of his career here, (he has) directional kicking plus a really strong leg.”

 

After having a very strong preseason, averaging over 56 yards per punt, Kaser had a very tough regular-season debut for the Bolts in Week 1 versus Kansas City. The rookie averaged only 26.4 yards per punt, and his late-game 17-yard punt in the fourth quarter of the game aided in what was an incredibly embarrassing loss.

Quite honestly, it was hard to watch. Kaser did not have to punt once in the first half, but the second half put him in position to help the Bolts flip the field and pin the Kansas City defense deep in their own territory.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

For a young man that is known for his hang-time and distance via his strong right leg, his punts averaged only 35.6 yards in the air, per profootballfocus.com.

Speaking of PFF, they listed him in their Lowest-graded player article for Week 1.

Punter: Drew Kaser, Chargers

Kaser’s punts averaged just 35.6 yards in the air, and they were frequently returned. His net average of 26.4 was the lowest of the week.

Now that it seems as though I’m encouraging people to demand to re-sign Scifres and dump the 2016 sixth-round pick, I feel confident that he will be just fine, allowing the fans to relocate Scifres from that place in their hearts so that Kaser can move in and get comfy.

Only time will tell how Kaser adapts to punting in NFL-game situations, but he will be given plenty of time to prove whether or not he belongs.

Again, he’ll be fine, folks; he does belong.

 

Dave Booga Peters

 

GordonWatt1

 

Roger Staubach once said, “In any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry.”

General Manager Tom Telesco drafted rookies and signed veterans in free agency who have ties to each other. If he did not do this on purpose, then he got very lucky. Players who already have chemistry might be the best thing Telesco has done in the offseason.

The Chargers drafted Joey Bosa of Ohio State with the 3rd overall pick of the draft. As the NFL world was discussing this shocking pick, the Chargers drafted Joshua Perry with the 102nd overall pick. Perry, a 6-foot-4, 254-pound linebacker, was also a Buckeye. Bosa and Perry already have chemistry from playing defense together at Ohio State. This should help them both transition into the Chargers’ defense.

During free agency, the Chargers signed wide receiver Travis Benjamin from the Cleveland Browns. With the 175th overall pick, the Chargers drafted OLB Jatavis Brown from Akron. This pick will not only boost the Chargers’ defense, but also reunite childhood neighbors. Although Benjamin is four years older than Brown, they knew each other because they lived only two houses away from each other in Belle Glade, Florida. Not surprisingly, Brown looked up to Benjamin and he became his idol. Benjamin, in turn, had followed Brown’s high school and college career, becoming one of his biggest cheerleaders. The 2016 Chargers’ offseason brought these two together to play on the same team and they couldn’t be happier about it. This is chemistry that is rarely found in the NFL.

Last year, the Chargers shocked the fans by letting kicker Nick Novak go, replacing him with undrafted rookie Josh Lambo from Texas A&M. This year, the Chargers shook up the special teams again with the release of punter Mike Scifres.

Scifres will go down as the best punter in Chargers’ history! The replacement for Scifres, Drew Kaser, was drafted with the 179th overall pick. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound punter also played for Texas A&M. Kaser will have big shoes to fill, much like Lambo did last year. Lambo, already having a relationship with Kaser, will be able to help him get acclimated to the NFL during his rookie year, as Lambo can share his experience being the new guy replacing the “really good old” guy!

Last year’s first-round pick, Melvin Gordon, had a less than stellar rookie year. Gordon never reached the endzone and was benched a couple of times after multiple fumbles. Many would argue that Gordon would play better during his rookie campaign, and much like he did in college, with the addition of a fullback. Not only did the Chargers draft a fullback, but they drafted Gordon’s fullback from the University of Wisconsin. With the 198th overall selection, the Bolts selected 6-foot-2, 236-pound fullback Derek Watt. This will be the best pick regarding “chemistry” of the 2016 draft. Watt, although a rookie, will bring motivation to Gordon, who is probably still feeling defeated following the 2015 season. Gordon is a workhorse and will do whatever it takes to have a better season. Having Watt as his fullback will lessen some of the load. This fullback-running-back combo is one to watch this season.

Staubach was right about consistency and chemistry being the ingredients to building a great team. Consistency, though, is the key to achieving that chemistry on a team.

The Chargers have added some new unique chemistry via free agency and the draft. The football gods just need to show the Bolts some mercy and allow the team to have a season without the plethora of constant injuries.

Telesco is a smart man. These ties to other players do not seem to be a coincidence. He definitely thought about the impact of having players that already have some chemistry to help individual transition into the NFL.

Let’s hope this science experience, of sorts, helps turn around the 2015 4-12 team in the 2016 season.

 

Laura Leech

 

 

scifres

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.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#ChargersDraft2016

Kaser

 

Oh, my gosh! Did that really just happen?

I realize many Chargers fans are probably scratching their heads wondering WHY did Tom Telesco draft a punter, of all positions? We don’t need a punter!

Are you sure about that? To be honest, as much as I hate to say it, this is a good thing. Punter Mike Scifres has had a bit of a struggle the last couple of years. Beyond that, he is going to be 36 years old in October.

San Diego drafted punter Drew Kaser out of Texas A&M in the fifth round on Saturday.

Kaser’s joining with the Bolts reunites him with his former Texas A&M teammate Josh Lambo. As you may remember, last year Telesco chose the undrafted placekicker Lambo. He challenged former fan favorite and San Diego native Nick Novak for the starting position and won it.

Here are just a few of the reasons why San Diego nabbed Kaser in the sixth round:

He has a big, strong leg which will be huge in the ever-changing battle of field position. One important aspect of his career as an Aggie was that in three years as a starter, none of his punts were blocked. He played in 39 games and punted 168 times for 7,761 yards with a punting average of 47.5 yards. In 2013, he was a Ray Guy Award finalist (presented to the nation’s top punter) and named to that year’s All-America team.

The Bolts have a history of signing big guys with even bigger legs to be their punters – Darren Bennett (undrafted, 1994) was 6’5″, 233 pounds and Mike Scifres (round 5 of the 2003 draft) is 6’2″, 215 pounds. Kaser is right in between them. With a leg like his, he would definitely make things interesting in a game where pinning your opponent inside the 20-yard line is of paramount importance nowadays.

Scifres was released Saturday. The team informed him of his release prior to selecting Kaser in the fifth round.

Time to look to the future of the Chargers’ special teams for something other than head-shaking!

Thanks for reading!

Cheryl White

#BoltUp!

Weddle1

 

The 2015 football season has spiraled downhill for the San Diego Chargers. Despite all the issues going on away from the field, there was always the actual game to look forward to. When the game is on, all else fades into the background for three hours.

Thirteen games and a 3-10 season record later, all the off the field issues have spilled over onto the sanctuary of the field as well. Players are crestfallen, reduced to nothing more than playing for pride in this, their worst season since 2003 where the Chargers finished 4-12.

Looming largest of all is the ongoing Los Angeles relocation effort spearheaded by the NFL front office. The league is bent on reclaiming the Los Angeles market and the Chargers are frontrunners to be chosen to do so. Efforts from the community and city officials have been lackluster. According to Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Bolts have not provided a viable plan to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

Anything can happen in the NFL. Carolina can be the last undefeated team in the league. Johnny Manziel can win and lose the starting quarterback job for the Cleveland Browns in less than a week. There are not one but two divisions in the NFL where not a single team has a winning record. That being said, the only thing left to question for the Chargers is the day the moving trucks arrive.

If that is indeed the case, then Sunday’s tilt against the Miami Dolphins will be the final home game of the San Diego Chargers. The whispers that swirled around Chargers park every offseason for the past 14 years have become roars and no player is immune to it. Every play knows this is their curtain call before the home crowd in San Diego.

Said quarterback Philip Rivers in a press conference this week:

“I’ll probably soak it in on the drive over there a little more than the past hundred-something times I’ve done it before a game. Because it could get emotional thinking about it, riding down that hill for the last time to this stadium.”

Antonio Gates was brought into San Diego as an undrafted free agent and will retire a first ballot Hall-Of-Famer. Said Gates:

“Obviously, San Diego has been phenomenal to me, I’ve played in San Diego my whole career. All I know right now is I’ve got one game left in Qualcomm, and I want to make the most of it. I’m going to go out and play it like any other game. I’m going to do the same thing from a preparation standpoint. Obviously, the assumption is that we’re going into this game to win. That’s my only concern. And if this is our last game, who knows what the future holds, but I want to make it my best game, a game to remember.”

Defensive captain Eric Weddle is the fourth-longest tenured Chargers after Rivers, Gates and punter Mike Scifres. Said Weddle to reporters:

“For us as players, we don’t have any idea or clue what’s going on, so we’re blind just like everybody else. So what we hear is what we hear from the outside. It’s unfortunate. It’s a great city, great fans. I wish we were better and could put a better product out there for them. But you are what you are. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to give it our all for them one last time if it is our last game.”

Win or lose, expect the Chargers to stay after the game and inhale being a San Diego Charger on their home field one last time. The players are as unsure of their moving status as we are but they’re not taking the gravity of the moment for granted. Expect an intense, inspired team hell-bent on winning their final home game. It will be a colossal success or an abject failure from trying too hard and making mistakes. There will be no in-between.

If you’re a Bolts fan, forget about how the season has played out. Show your appreciation to the team and come to the game. Tune in from home. Don’t give up hope that the team will stay, until the moving trucks do in fact arrive.  Wear your lightning bolts with pride Bolt Nation. This is still our team.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#SaveOurBolts

DonaldBrown

 

In order to help supplement a banged-up offensive line, the Chargers have promoted recently acquired offensive lineman Michael Ola from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, the team announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the team has released running back Donald Brown.

You read that correctly.

The team has released Donald Brown.

Ola, 27, started 12 games in 2014 for the Chicago Bears. In those starts he played every offensive line position with the exception of center. His versatility certainly caught the eye of general manager Tom Telesco.

The story of Brown with the Chargers is one that may be put on a “temporary hold.” Although the free-agent bust was released today, Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune tweeted that the team hopes to bring him back in about a week. Brown is not subject to waivers as he is a “vested veteran” — in the league four or more seasons.

If it weren’t for all of the injuries along the offensive line, Brown would not have been released.

The 2015 season was Brown’s second year with the Bolts. He had yet to be named active through three games this season despite a $3 million salary for this year.

The 28-year-old was signed during the 2014 offseason. In his first year with the Chargers, Brown played in 13 games, carrying the ball 85 times for 223 yards, averaging a paltry 2.6 yards per carry. The seven-year veteran added 29 receptions for 211 yards.

His tenure, at this point, in San Diego will be remembered for three things: being a disappointment as a free-agent acquisition, an exorbitant salary for a third- or fourth-string running back and missing a block on a punt that culminated in punter Mike Scifres breaking his collar bone.

Chargers fans everywhere are applauding this move. The fact of the matter is, Brown was not worth the salary he was collecting.

Should the team indeed sign him to the roster over the next week following Sunday’s game, the fans will no longer be applauding.

Well, fans, be prepared to be upset when the team brings him back.

 

 

ClemensRivers

 

The San Diego Chargers played their first preseason game Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys. In front of their home crowd the bolts won the contest 17-7. As we all know, the score is immaterial. The important thing is how did the team look? There are a lot of players fighting for a roster spot. Who is giving maximum effort and who is not? How big is the talent differential when the second and third units come in compared to the unit before them? These are the key things to watch in a preseason game. Here are my takeaways from the first game.

Preseason or not, it was great to see that it didn’t take long before the team got their first takeaway. The first team defense recovered a snap that went over the head of Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden. Donald Butler crashed the backfield and eliminated the quarterback from the play, kicking the ball upfield in the process. The ball was then recovered by an offseason acquisition, cornerback Patrick Robinson. The Chargers would force and recover a second fumble in the half. The Chargers only had 18 takeaways all last season. That stat needs to improve if they’re going to be a serious playoff contender.

The running game looked sharp. Last season the running game was out-of-sync all season with the exception of the emergence of Branden Oliver. After Danny Woodhead went down in week three and Mathews resumed his usual spot at the trainer’s table the Chargers running game died. Woodhead looked great in his return from a broken leg, rushing for an eight-yard touchdown on his first carry. Oliver also ran with power and Barry Sanders-like shiftiness, posting 53 yards and a touchdown on ten carries. Melvin Gordon gained 11 yards on six carries. He will gain more carries and confidence now that the first game jitters are out of the way. We all expect Gordon to be in contention for Rookie of the Year at season’s end but let’s temper our expectations. With rookies come growing pains.

The special teams looked better than they have in previous seasons. Undrafted kicker Josh Lambo provided a welcome sight in sending kickoffs through the end zone. Kicker Nick Novak booted a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that looked like it would have been good from another ten yards back. Punter Mike Scifres looked like his old self after finishing last season on injured reserve with a broken collarbone. Scifres’ first punt pinned the Cowboys inside their own five yard line. Reserve cornerback Chris Davis had a couple exciting kick returns and Javontee Herndon looked great finding holes on punt returns. Paired with Jacoby Jones, this may be the best group of returners the Chargers have had in a long while.

The first team defense showed the ability to get a good pass rush against what is considered to be the best offensive line in the league. Second round draft pick Denzel Perryman showed his nose for the ball with five tackles, a pass defensed and got close on a couple of potential sacks. Manti Te’o disrupted plays. Fifth round draft pick Kyle Emanuel had a great showing with three solo tackles including a sack and tackle for loss. It was also good to see nose tackle Ryan Carrethers finally off the injured reserve list and on the field. Carrethers was double-teamed on every snap he played and still managed to get two tackles.

As always, there are things to work on. The run defense, while only allowing 70 yards on the night could have had an even better output were it not for a lot of missed tackles. On the Cowboys lone score, running back Gus Johnson dragged several Chargers defenders into the end zone for the score.

Special teams did a good job in containment but there were also some tackles left on the field that could have put the Cowboys deep into their own territory. Tackling is an ailment that is usual during the first preseason games because there isn’t much tackling going on in training camp. Expect the tackling to improve as these exhibition games pass.

The biggest downside were the injuries. Offensive lineman Johnnie Troutman worked hard to get on the field after a leg injury only to break his arm during the game. Outside linebacker Tourek Williams was having a great game pressuring the quarterback and running down ball carriers until he broke his foot in the third quarter. Williams underwent surgery on Friday and the timetable on his return is unknown at the moment. While the two weren’t starters they are key depth positions.

All in all, it’s the preseason. There will be plenty of game tape with enough mistakes that there will be no shortage of things to work on this week. San Diego should feel confident in the collection of players on their sideline. This is a team fans should feel proud to come out and support. This is a team (if they can stay healthy) that can overtake the Broncos for the AFC West title. If this is their last season in the 619 area code, they will be going out with a bang.

What did you think of the season opener? Post your comments below.

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#SaveOurBolts

 

Allen1

 

As I have stated each time I write the Charger injury report articles, I hate doing these.  Quite honestly, it’s depressing.  This week is just as bad but it seems to be just as expected when it comes to the game status of each individual.

 

Out:

RB – Ryan Mathews  ( Ankle )

P – Mike Scifres  ( Shoulder/Clavicle )

 

Doubtful:

WR – Keenan Allen  ( Ankle/Collarbone )

 

Questionable:

C/G – Chris Watt  ( Ankle )

 

Probable:

DT/DE – Corey Liuget  ( Ankle )

QB – Philip Rivers  ( Chest/Back/Ribs )

CB – Shareece Wright  ( Concussion )

 

Sadly, it was expected that Ryan Mathews would miss this week’s game.  Despite Mike McCoy claiming that he hoped both Mathews and Keenan Allen would play, everyone had their doubts.  With Allen having a fractured collarbone and injured ankle, I’m not sure why it was brought up that he might play.  Listing him as doubtful seems “interesting” to me.  Another non-surprise was that Scifres would not be able to play.  Thanks again, Donald Brown.

Chris Watt has flashed some true ability during his play as a center.  He has made some rookie mistakes, but that can be expected due to the fact that he has never played center prior to this season.  Getting him back would be very helpful.  Trevor Robinson filled in admirably but even having Watt for depth would be nice.

Was there any doubt as to whether Philip Rivers would play on Sunday against the Chiefs?  Not only is he the toughest quarterback in the NFL, it would be fair to debate whether or not he’s the toughest player at any position. Battling multiple ailments, Rivers is a gamer and he knows what’s on the line in week 17.

Although he was replaced by a capable Steve Williams, getting Shareece Wright back from a concussion helps the secondary.  With Jason Verrett already lost for the year, the more healthy corners there are, the better.  Despite the solid performance from Williams against the 49ers, expect Wright to be inserted back into the starting lineup.

The Chargers have been banged up all year.  After losing players like Danny Woodhead and Nick Hardwick to injured reserve, among others, the injuries have continued to pile up.  Is anyone sick of hearing “Next man up?”  Quite frankly, they have been rather successful by using this mantra and getting reserve players ready to contribute and even start in games. This week is no different.  Now go get this W and earn your way into the playoffs.

 

Booga Peters

Heading into the 2014 season, the San Diego Chargers looked incredibly promising; even with one of the most difficult schedules in the league. General Manager, Tom Telesco, worked extremely hard in the offseason in order to add depth to the roster; even with an extremely small salary cap. To be specific, Telesco only had roughly $625,000 left in cap space after paying the offensive, defensive, and special teams’ salaries; the dead money hit alone was $16,335,000. Even under those circumstances, Telesco was able to beef up the backfield with multiple running backs, regain some game changing defensive players, and added a very talented draft class to the roster. Yet, the season didn’t play out as most expected when the pandemic of injuries hit the Chargers team. At that point, the motto “next man up” was adopted.

The next man up is a phrase that most professional teams technically want to reframe from using; it essentially indicates the starter is unable to play and another player has to fill in. Yet, the Chargers have embraced it since week one. Pro Bowler center, Nick Hardwick, was placed on injured reserve after the Arizona match-up, granting center Rich Ohrnberger the starting role. However, Ohrnberger struggled with injuries, forcing the Chargers to sign guard, Doug Legursky. Not even a month later, Legursky was placed on injured reserve, leaving an ailing Ohrnberger and rookie guard Chris Watt as the next men up. It doesn’t stop there, Ohrnberger was added to the growing injured reserve roster and Watt held the starting role at center. Who would have thought that Watt would then leave the Baltimore Ravens game with a calf injury; leaving the Chargers with their fifth center to play, Trevor Robinson.

The center position wasn’t the only one to face heartache. During the second week against the Seattle Seahawks, star running back Ryan Mathews sprained his MCL and was expected to miss a significant amount of time. If you ever think that lighting doesn’t strike twice, think again. The follow week, running back Danny Woodhead was placed on injured reserve due to a season ending leg injury. The originally stacked backfield wasn’t looking so stacked anymore and the Chargers soon expected undrafted rookie running back, Branden Oliver “Bo”, to fill in. Not only did he fill in, he impressed the entire league with over 215 rushing yards and three touchdowns in week’s five and six; awarding him with Pepsi’s Rookie of the Week in week 5. To add depth, Telesco brought back veteran running back Ronnie Brown who spent last year on the Chargers active roster.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Third year linebacker, Melvin Ingram, was placed on the Reserve-Injured list with the designation to return after suffering a hip injury in week two. The next week, second year linebacker Manti Te’o suffered a fractured foot which sidelined him until week eleven. Already missing two starting linebackers, rookie linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu was ailing a hamstring injury which limited his productivity and playing time. Again, next man up, fourth year linebacker Andrew Gachkar filled in for his injured teammates. Not only did he bring passion and fire to the field, he was able to accumulate 7 stuffs, 21 total tackles, and a fumble recovery.

Gachkar wasn’t the only one to step in, outside linebacker Cordarro Law has stepped up when given the green light. An undrafted free agent in 2012, Law signed with the Chargers in February of 2014. Spending much of his time on the practice squad, Law continues to get the job done. With veteran outside linebacker Dwight Freeney becoming a free agent after this season, there’s a no question that Law can earn a 53-man active roster spot if he continues the hard work he puts in.

Starting at cornerback was the Chargers first round draft pick, Jason Verrett. Impressively, he was making a contending run for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year by week 9. However, just after the bye week, Verrett was placed on injured reserve due to a torn labrum. At this point, you might be asking, “How does an NFL survive all these injures?” and the answer again is simply, next man up.

Not only has the offense and defense suffered from the injury bug, but the special teams took a big blow a few weeks ago. One of the league’s top punters, Mike Scifres, broke his clavicle during the New England Patriot Game; forcing Nick Novak, who had not punted a ball since high school, to take on the punting duties for the remainder of the game. Much can be said about a player filling in for a position they have no training on, but Novak impressed with what little he was given. Shortly after, Pro Bowl punter, Mat McBriar, was signed to replace Scifres. McBriar was a mentor to Darren Bennett, the Chargers longtime punter who preceded Scifres. He brings to the punting unit an average of 45.1 yards per attempt with 201 landing inside the 20.

The next man up saying isn’t exclusive to sidelining injuries, rather those playing through the bumps and bruises; quarterback Philip Rivers is a prime example. It’s no secret that El Capitan has been playing through some bruised ribs and a sore back. Along with Rivers, brute defensive end Corey Liuget is also playing through injuries. Just the other day, Liuget was seen sporting a walking boot; most commonly used to keep the player mobile as much as possible, yet still protecting the injured structure. Although these top Charger players give us a heart attack when we don’t see them at practice, they still show up on game day ready to get the win.

Heading into week 16, the Chargers are faced with more anguish. Veteran linebacker Donald Butler was placed on injured reserve after suffering a dislocated elbow against the Denver Broncos last week. A day later, it was announced that second year wide receiver, Keenan Allen, suffered a broken collarbone and ankle injury. With San Diego fighting for their lives to earn a spot into the post-season, the next man up motto is being used more than ever. In the much-needed win against the San Francisco 49ers, expected to be active is tight end Ladarius Green, wide receiver Seyi Ajurotutu, and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. Let’s not forget the impact Branden Oliver and Donald Brown need to make against the stealthy 49ers defense as Mathews recovers from an ankle injury suffered in week 14.

Many would think that it’s impossible that a team could possibly have an 8-6 record with all the injures the Chargers have accrued this year. With nine players on injured reserve and a few other active roster injuries, any team would have faulted and given up hopes by now. Yet, these are the San Diego Super Chargers; the underdog, the dark horse, and let’s not forget the team that no one ever expects much from. It’s alright, the Chargers still have a chance at the post-season and the opportunity to prove that anything can be done. The next man up motto has been the staple of the organization all year, but why stop now? The season isn’t even close to being over…

 

Briana Soltis

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