Rookie

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

 

 

Cro2

 

 

The date was November 4, 2007. The Minnesota Vikings and the San Diego Chargers played 60 minutes of football in the Twin City. On that particular Sunday, in those 60 minutes, both teams had broken an NFL record. Still fresh in the minds of the players and the fans, the Chargers and Vikings meet again eight years later.

The first half of that game was all in favor of the Chargers. They had limited the sensational rookie running back Adrian Peterson to only 43 yards when the half ended. Peterson had made a name for himself early on in that season. He rushed for 224 yards with three touchdowns against the Chicago Bears, a few weeks earlier.

Tied 7-7, the Vikings decided to kick a long field goal, in hopes of taking the lead before heading into the locker room. Place kicker Ryan Longwell was set up to kick a 57-yard field goal. The longest of his career was 55 yards.  Second-year Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie had put himself in the back of the end zone, anticipating a missed field goal. Longwell missed the field goal.  Cromartie returned the missed field goal for 109 yards for a touchdown. Cro had just broken the longest touchdown run of 108 yards.  The record was set and recorded as 109 yards although he was just under 110 yards. This was supposed to be the highlight and talk of the NFL that week.

The Bolts had gone into the locker room on a high. The Vikings went into the locker room somewhat defeated. The Chargers felt that what they were doing was working. The Vikings knew that they had to change some things up going into the second half.

The second half of the game might have been the worst  for the Chargers under Phillip Rivers. It is a toss-up between this game and the game in 2012 against the Denver Broncos, blowing a 24-0 lead.

That is a debate for another time.

Minnesota made some adjustments going into the second half.  Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson left the game with an injury. Back-up quarterback Brooks Bollinger would end up playing the entire second half.  He did well, throwing a touchdown pass, but it was the rookie, Adrian Peterson, who dominated the half. Peterson had fumbled the ball in the 4th quarter but that did not change the momentum of the Vikings.  It went from bad to worse for the Chargers with a three-and-out, followed by a Rivers interception on the Chargers’ next drive. Peterson ended up with 253 yards in the second half. This was against the Chargers 7th ranked defense.

Peterson ended up breaking the Jamal Lewis’ record of 295 yards rushing in a single game (Lewis was a member of the Baltimore Ravens at the tie). Peterson ended the game with 296 yard rushing, 19 yards receiving and three touchdowns. The beautiful record-breaking run by Cromartie would be overshadowed by Peterson’s record.

It was an ugly game for the Chargers. Running back Ladainian Tomlinson, whom Peterson looked up to, ended up with only 40 yards rushing and one touchdown. Phillip Rivers was 19 for 42 with 197 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Sometimes it takes a defeat in that fashion to wake a team up. The Chargers ended up winning seven of their last eight games to win the AFC West. They went all the way to the AFC Championship game, losing to the New England Patriots. Another game Chargers players and fans would love to forget.

What does this mean for the game on Sunday against the Vikings? Probably not too much. It was eight years ago and these are not the same two teams.

Adrian Peterson is expected to have another good year, sitting out most of the 2014 season due to a suspension from his child abuse case. The Vikings will probably run a lot on the Chargers on Sunday like the did against the Detroit Lions the week before. He ran for 134 yards on 29 attempts in Week 2. It is possible that the Chargers will use the 2007 game to fuel the fire to get the win this time. Peterson is now 30 years old, which is almost ancient when it comes to running backs. It should be a better game for Chargers.

The question remains…will another NFL record be broken this year?

 

Laura Leech

 

2013DraftClass

 

 

Rookie Camp is like freshman orientation.  It only lasts a few days, and its only rookies.  During camp the players will be doing a LOT of homework as they dive into their new playbooks, attempting to absorb the information so when mini camp comes along they do not, well, look like rookies.

The coaches aren’t necessarily going to be looking at how good a player is at their position.  They are going to be evaluating the little things.  How quick the players understand and recognize playbook terminology.  How hard they work in gym sessions.  What speed and level of effort they put into practice sessions.  Do they hustle after plays.  Do they handle criticism well and learn from their mistakes quickly.

This is the first real impression for the coaches on how these players are going to contribute to the team.  This impression is more important for some than others.  DJ Fluker, Manti Te’o, and Keenan Allen are going to make the roster.  But for the 3 other draft picks, the 20 Undrafted Free Agents, and the 7 players without contracts that are trying out for the team they will have to prove that they are worthy to make the 8 man practice squad, or if they are very lucky, the 53 man roster.  Fluker, Te’o, and Allen can’t take it easy though.  Being drafted that early comes with high expectations from coaches, teammates, and especially the fans, so they must prove they were worth that pick.

Since the rookies will be going against one another will make some players look great.  For example if DJ Fluker shuts down Anthony Williams, a DT from Fresno who is here for a tryout, yes that will look great but it is not an accurate representation of how Fluker will perform against a veteran NFL defensive tackle.  So while you may here rave reviews on some players out of rookie camp, try to stay grounded and remember, its rookies vs other rookies.

All in all there will be 33 players at camp for the Chargers this weekend.

There are the 6 draft picks:

DJ Fluker – OT

Manti Te’o – LB

Keenan Allen – WR

Steve Williams – CB

Tourek Williams – OLB

Brad Sorensen – QB

There are 20 UDFA’s:

Jahleel Addae – SS

Nick Becton – OT

Frank Beltre – OLB

Greg Brown – CB

Ben Cotton – TE

Marcus Cromartie – CB

Joshua Johnson – CB

Devan Walker – OLB

Kwame Geathers – NT

Michael Hill – RB

Byron Jerideau – DT/NT

Richard Kent – P

Jamarkus McFarland – DE

Daniel Molls – LB

Brandon Moore – DE/DT

Kenny Okoro – CB

Randy Richards – OT

David Rolf – TE

Luke Tasker – WR

Mike Herman – QB

And finally there are the 7 players in for a tryout (and a little about them since they are the newest additions and least known prospects):

Justin Cudworth an OLB from Eastern Michigan University looks like he could be a special teams stud like Gachkar. This guy hits like a missile and plays downhill pretty well with good closing speed based on his highlight video. Definitely a fun video to watch.

Chris McNeill a WR from Wyoming looks like he has pretty good hands and has a pretty impressive punt return for a TD in his video. He is more fast than quick, taking 4 or 5 strides to get to full speed.

Matthew Wilmer a WR out of Fairmont state. I wasn’t impressed watching his tape, he doesn’t look overly fast or quick, he has decent hands but it’s very obvious he was playing against weak competition and while he looks better he doesn’t appear to be a “man among boys” like Michael Hill does in his tape in against weaker competition.

Anthony Williams a DT/DE from Fresno looks pretty athletic for his size in his highlights. He is quick and looked pretty disruptive, could push his former team-mate Logan Harrel for a PS spot

Sam Schwartzstein a C from Stanford.  He looks pretty solid in this highlight video, but C is probably the only position which has some depth on the Oline. Unless they release Nick Hardwick which I highly doubt.

Tony Burnett S/CB/OLB from USC.  He didn’t have a true position at USC, played Safety as a Sophomore, CB as a Junior and OLB as a Senior. He is a downhill player and looks awesome in run support in this video, but there isn’t much tape in here on his pass coverage skills. He ran a hand time of 4.44 but an electronic “official”time of 4.58, watching the tape the 4.58 is probably about right. I don’t see much chance of him making it either, since safety is a little crowded.

The last player is a G from SDSU Riley Gauld. I couldn’t find any tape on him, however he does have NFL size at 6-4 312lbs and put up a respectable 29 reps of 225 at his pro day.

 

 

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