The Chargers have a good receiving corps with Malcom Floyd, Keenan Allen and the new additions of Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones. There is still one more spot open, and the Chargers need to figure out who’s going to fill that fifth spot.
That one guy, Antonio Gates, is pretty damn good, as well; albeit the tight end will miss four games due to suspension.
There is a player we have already seen in real game action, and that man is Dontrelle Inman.
Inman, the Virginia product, filled in nicely for Allen last season after breaking his collar bone. Inman was an undrafted free agent that originally signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011. He had 12 receptions for 158 yards. While averaging 13.2 yards per catch, Inman’s longest play was 28 yards. He was only targeted 17 times. This means he caught 71% of the balls Rivers thrown his way. He also got the Chargers seven first downs.
Next we have Austin Pettis.
Pettis was drafted in the third round with 78th overall pick by the St. Louis Rams. Pettis also has playing experience under his belt, while playing with the Rams. In his four years of playing with the Rams, Pettis started in 47 games. He had 107 receptions for 1,034 yards and averaged 9.7 yards per catch. Pettis’ longest play was 36 yards. He gave the Rams 62 first downs and 9 touchdowns.
Another good candidate is rookie prospect Titus Davis. Davis played college ball at Central Michigan. While playing there, he had 204 receptions for 3,700 yards. He averaged 18.1 yards per reception along with 37 total touchdowns. He also had 15 rushes for 113 yards, while averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
Next is Javontee Herndon.
Herndon is a second-year pro out of the University of Arkansas. In college, Herndon had 62 receptions for 910 yards. He averaged 14.7 yards per catch, adding touchdowns. He also had four rushes for 60 yards.
Finally, somebody that the team and media loves, Tyrell Williams.
Williams played at Western Oregon. He had the school’s all-time record with 156 catches. He had 2,792 receiving yards, and he was good for 21 touchdowns. He has a great size, while also being speedy.
All five of these guys have a solid chance, but only one will win that fifth spot. I strongly believe it will be Inman, considering that we’ve seen what he can do for the Chargers in the regular season.
Rick Reiff Jr.
Golly! It’s about gosh darn time.
Tonight at 7:30 pm your San Diego Chargers will host the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium. Although the starters won’t see much playing time, there is a lot to be excited about.
- As mentioned above, the first-team offense and defense won’t be on the field for more than a series or two.
- This is the 16th time the Chargers and Cowboys have met in the preseason. The Bolts hold an 8-7 advantage.
- Please understand in advance that both teams will be very “vanilla” in their play calling on both sides of the ball.
- It will be interesting, due to his inexperience at right guard, how long D.J. Fluker will stay in the game.
- The final score does not matter in the slightest. These preseason contests are about evaluating the players and staying healthy. For example, the 2008 Detroit Lions went 4-0 during the preseason that year. They then went on to finish the regular season as the only team in NFL history to go 0-16.
- The last report I heard about Jason Verrett playing tonight was that it was a “longshot.” It wouldn’t surprise me if Brandon Flowers sat this one out, as well.
Players to keep an eye on:
Melvin Gordon – Being listed as the starting running back on the depth chart, Gordon won’t be on the field too much. But it will be nice to see the first-round draft choice in action. Keep an eye on him in pass protection and as a receiver out of the backfield.
Colton Underwood – Per the advice of Nick Hardwick during his new program “Behind the Bolt,” Underwood is a player that I’ll be keeping an eye on. The second-year linebacker has impressed many people at Chargers Park during this offseason. Underwood should see a quite a bit of playing time tonight.
Ryan Carrethers – The former fifth round draft pick is entering his second-year with the Bolts. With Sean Lissemore sitting this one out due to a hand/wrist ailment, Carrethers could see more of the field than expected. The 24-year-old began to come on late during the 2014 season before getting hurt, pushing the pocket and filling running lanes.
Titus Davis – This will be about the sixth time that I have written about Davis, I know, but I really think this kid has a chance to earn a role with this team. It may only be with the practice squad, but he just looks like he belongs in the NFL. Due to the wide receiving corps being stacked on the 53-man roster, he will have the opportunity to soak in as much knowledge as possible from the veterans at his position.
Josh Lambo – The undrafted free agent has his first chance to show off his leg on kickoffs starting this evening. If he performs well throughout the next month, he may state his case for a spot on the 53-man roster. That is not to say he’ll take field goal and extra point attempt duties from Nick Novak, but it is no secret that Novak struggles on kickoff depth. Keeping two kickers is not completely out of the question.
Michael Huey – The 26-year-old is now in his second stint with the Chargers. He spent some time with the team in 2011. Huey has received a ton of praise from McCoy during training camp. He has recently been working with the second-team offense at right guard. With Johnnie Troutman spending a bit of time watching from the sidelines, this is a good opportunity for Huey to seize the back-up role at right guard.
Craig Mager – This year’s third-round draft choice has struggled adapting to the pace and complexity of the NFL game. Tonight’s game is a great stepping stone for him to begin to slow down the thinking process and just play football. Mager is very athletic with good speed. Another impressive part of his game is his physicality. He is not afraid to stick his nose in there against the running game.
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.
Due to having only five draft picks this year, the Chargers added 20 undrafted free agents to bring their roster total to the 90-man maximum (It was 21 but the team released Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt when they signed Chase Rettig). Historically, they have had great success finding key contributors in undrafted free agent rookies. Names like Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Kris Dielman immediately stand out. You can even throw in players like Jahleel Addae and Branden Oliver. Both are younger players, but they have been key contributors in their short careers.
In part one of this two-part look at the undrafted free agents signed by the Bolts, there is a list of the 20 undrafted rookie free agents acquired by the team. The second part will highlight some of the signees that will have a good shot at making the team as a member of the practice squad or the 53-man roster.