The best piece of advice I can give a sports fan is this: cheer for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
No matter how wonderful a player is on or off the field, someday either the team or the player will make the difficult decision to go a different direction. The team remains, but the players go through the never ending revolving doors known as free agency and retirement. Remember the aforementioned advise when you look at the following list of fan favorites and impact players who are on the last year of their contracts with the Chargers. Here is the list of the players who may leave at seasons end. The departure of some will leave a hole in the team. The departure of others will leave a hole in fans hearts. So as I crank up The Clash in the background, let’s take a look at who should stay and who should go, as well as what they are making for the 2016 season.
Melvin Ingram (OLB) $7.751 million: Staying: Although Ingram has had to deal with injuries and has under achieved in a statistical way, the future of Ingram seems bright. The addition of Joey Bosa has made this pair of pass-rushers quite a handful for offensive lines. The sack totals are not as impressive as their AFC West rivals, but the fact that the Chargers lead the league in interceptions is a sure sign that these guys are putting pressure on quarterbacks and forcing errant throws. For a defensive front seven to be effective in today’s NFL, there must be two dominant pass rushers and a strong Nose Tackle. Ingram, Bosa and Mebane fit the bill for now. Ingram will be pursued by other teams, but expect the Chargers to overpay a little to keep their former first round draft pick around for the next three to four years.
Danny Woodhead (RB) $5.5 million: Going: I want to be clear about something here. Danny Woodhead is a wonderful player who can be a spark-plug for an offense, and a true leader. But along with his greatness is a serious problem. Since joining the Chargers, Woodhead has only played in 37 of the 64 games he was eligible to participate in. He has had two full seasons and two cut seriously short by injury, including the 2016 campaign. Not only does Woodhead have a hard time staying healthy, he is 31 years old. Not many running backs maintain their effectiveness for long after age 30. I’m sorry to say, the Chargers will move on from Woodhead. He will either sign somewhere as a free agent for the 2017 season, or hang up the cleats. Of course, there is the possibility that the Chargers would try to sign him at a discounted price on the chance that he will stay healthy. Unfortunately, he will most likely find a better offer somewhere else.
Mantai Te’o (MLB) $5.172 million: Going: Te’o is another player who has been plagued by injuries during his time in San Diego. By seasons end, he will have played in just 38 of a possible 64 games, over his four season tenure with the Bolts. He has been improving every year, and the improvement of the defensive line has helped him scrape down the line and get to ball carriers. But, it hasn’t helped his foot-speed, or ability to cover backs in the flat. Look for opposing quarterbacks to pick on Te’o on third and long. The fact is, Te’o will go down in Chargers history as a borderline bust. Nice enough guy, just not a great football player.
Jahleel Addae (SS) $2.553 million: Going: Chargers fans seem to have a great deal of respect and admiration for SS Jahleel Addae. Why? Because he is a hitter! Fans love players who come in and lay some hat on opposing teams. Addae certainly does just that. He has been a Charger for four years and has quite the reputation for having no fear. The problem is that all those hits have really taken a toll on Addae’s body. In fact, he has had several injuries, including concussions. Having only played 43 of his possible 54 games so far as a Charger, there must be concern that he will spend more and more time on the injured list. He is fairly inexpensive, but you do not want to pay anyone to ride out injuries. I believe that if Addae fails to get through the remaining five games of the 2016 schedule without incident, the Chargers will have no choice but to let him go.
Branden Oliver (RB) $1.53 million: Staying: Normally I would have said that a player who really hasn’t done very much, and has missed an entire season to injury, would not be returning. In Oliver’s case, I think the Chargers may take one more chance. He is the epitome of a fan favorite. Bolt fans just love watching Oliver run/return the ball and bang into those large defenders. Yes, Oliver plays larger than his 5’8″, 208 lb frame. He is such a fan favorite, some fans wanted Melvin Gordon either cut, or dropped to second string, so that Oliver could get his chance. The fact of the matter is that despite a few impressive games, Oliver does not have the stats to explain the love he receives. That being said, the Bolts may just bring him back because he will be cheap and the fans love him.
Korey Toomer (OLB) $600,000: Staying: It could be a little premature to add Toomer to this list, but he has been an impact player since joining the team in week four. With his playing time increasing, Toomer has racked up 33 tackles in the last three weeks! He is an aggressive player who likes to hit. The Seahawks and the Raiders are going to regret letting this guy go. Look for Toomer to get another two the three years added to his already very affordable contract.
Dontrelle Inman (WR) $600,000: Staying: Without a whole lot of playing time, Inman has managed to have some big games. He is a sure-handed receiver that was plucked from the Canadian Football League to fill in for injured receivers. Although much of the success of the young Chargers receivers can be credited to Philip Rivers, there is no denying that Inman has the ability to get open and catch the ball. He just may be part of a talented youth movement at wide receiver in San Diego.
There are many more players to make decisions on at the end of this season. Very few are notable. None are tremendous impact players or former high draft picks. Even though these names seem less important, some of them will return because they are affordable and they add much needed depth. The following is a list of players who will most likely be brought back to fill various roles: Mike Windt (LS), Tenny Palepoi (NT), Sean McGrath (TE), Damion Square (NT), and Isaiah Burse (WR/KR), Kenny Wiggens (G).
Finally, the list of potential free agents who are either doomed to be shown the door, or will fight hard and get back on the team: Sean Lissemore (NT), Tourek Williams (OLB), Trevor Williams (CB), Asante Cleveland (TE), Adrian Phillips (FS), Kellen Clemens (QB), Javontee Herndon (WR), Codero Law (OLB), Jeff Cumberland (TE), Dexter McCluster (RB/KR), Ronnie Hillman (RB), Jeremy Butler (WR), Geremy Davis (WR), Tyreek Burwell (T), Chris Landrum (OLB). Some of these guys have a real shot at making the team next year, they just will not be high priorities for Chargers GM Tom Telesco.
So, what do you think? Which of these guys will be sporting lightning bolts next season? Leave your comments below.
The Chargers announced on Tuesday that offensive lineman Chris Watt was waived from the physically unable to perform list after failing his physical due to a knee ailment that has kept him sidelined all of the 2016 regular season.
(The team had yet to make a corresponding move prior to the publishing of this article.)
Watt, 26, was originally drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft by San Diego. He was selected as the heir apparent at center, hopefully becoming the long-term replacement for former Chargers great Nick Hardwick.
Sadly for Watt, who never played center during high school or college, the transition from guard to center proved to be too difficult for the former member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Coupled with multiple injuries — concussion, shoulder, knee, ankle and groin issues — over his brief career, the switch to snapping the ball and his inability to stay healthy have plagued Watt during his short tenure in the league.
Dave Booga Peters
Hopefully all those people – those would be the voices of last season which were scathing at times – are eating their words this season with regard to Melvin Gordon. Bust, you say? Maybe that was a bit premature.
Why? First a little bit of Gordon’s background.
There was speculation aplenty when Chargers’ GM Tom Telesco and the San Francisco 49ers swapped spots in the 2015 NFL Draft. Telesco moved from 17th position to 15th and took Gordon. Many fans were disconcerted, some even loudly outraged, that the running back pick was Gordon and not Todd Gurley. Personally, I felt that with the Bolts needing a better running back than Ryan Mathews had been, plus the fact that Gurley was still rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, it was a good choice.
What wasn’t there to like? Gordon finished his career at University of Wisconsin-Madison having played in 45 games where he had 631 carries for 4,915 yards and 45 TDs. As a receiver out of the backfield there were 22 catches for 228 yards and four TDs. In his senior year, the former Badger hauled in 19 receptions for 153 yards and three TDs while also accumulating 343 carries and 29 TDs for 2,587 yards (second most in the FBS). He also had six games of 200+ yards, a school record.
Being chosen as a first rounder is a huge responsibility coupled with as much, if not more, expectation. Not just the expectation of teammates and coaches, but also what the individual places on themselves. As a rookie the playbook is just one part of the whole; the speed of the game is vastly quicker and the majority of guys you suit up with are playing at a level considerably higher than your own.
Contributing factors to Gordon’s lower-than-anticipated numbers were the woes of the offensive line play of the Chargers. The team went through 24 O-line combinations. Play-calling was WAY too predictable. The line could not create holes on a consistent basis for the rookie to run through. Perhaps the biggest disservice to Gordon was the fact that his entire career at Wisconsin he had a fullback in front of him, yet there was no such position on his new team.
It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
This year saw a change at offensive coordinator as Frank Reich exited San Diego for Philadelphia. Ken Whisenhunt returned and brought with him the hope for a more productive running game. At the end of his 2013-14 stint as OC, San Diego had the No. 5 offense overall and was 13th in rushing. In 2015, the team was ranked ninth in total offense and they were 31st in rushing. Gordon was ranked 37th amongst all running backs.
With Whisenhunt, Gordon seems to have flourished. Through eight games (no update to include week nine yet), NFL.com has him ranked twelfth amongst running backs with 572 rushing yards (161 carries) and 219 receiving yards (24 catches). Including week nine stats, Footballdb.com has Gordon listed in the No. 3 slot behind Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott (891 yds) and Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray (807 yds). Gordon has logged four games with over 100 combined rushing and receiving yards: Jacksonville 120 yards, Atlanta 121 yards, Denver 155 yards and last week at home against Tennessee he racked up a whopping 261 yards.
Even better is the fact that after nine games, Gordon is leading the league with 11 touchdowns. After not crossing the goal line once last year, the guy that many called a “bust” is number one in touchdowns scored!
The early season loss of Danny Woodhead, one of the best pass-catchers out of the backfield, is part of the reason for the uptick in Gordon’s numbers. When Woodhead went down, and Branden Oliver out for the year since pre-season, it meant that Gordon had to step up his own game. It had been stated several times from OTA’s through training camp that he appeared more confident and sure of himself. Now, HE is the one taking the hand-off from Rivers in those 3rd down conversion scenarios when the call is for a run. HE catches some of those 3rd and long passes, and HE is the guy scampering in when they are in the red zone. Except of course for the Broncos game when he should have been given at least ONE shot from the 2-yard line to tie the game and Whisenhunt called for four straight pass plays.
Gordon has the vision this year that he was lacking throughout his rookie campaign. Having Derek Watt, his fullback from Wisconsin, blocking in front of him in games has helped. Less turnover along the offensive line has also made it easier to get off the line of scrimmage. He has fumbled twice this year versus the six from a year ago. The frenzy of 2015 has slowed a bit in his second year.
Gordon has been running so well that after last week’s Titans game in which he accumulated 196 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards and darted in for another rushing TD, the second-year back was nominated for, and won, both the AFC Offensive Player of the Week and the Castrol Clutch Performer of the Week!! Take that, all those Melvin Gordon haters of 2015! Not so much of a bust, after all, is he?!
My prediction is that Gordon will be the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Chargers since LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 1,110 in 2008; LT had 11 TDs that year and 154 receiving yards. Gordon needs only 232 yards to hit the 1,000 mark in rushing. If he continues at the pace he is on now, he will exceed that number. As of this writing he has already reached 1,032 yards combined. I anticipate he will score a total of 18 touchdowns and amass 1,300 rushing yards by season’s end. Bold? Perhaps. But I think he is up to the task.
Now if only he can continue to get the ball put in his hands in those short red zone TD situations!
Week 5 is upon us! If the Chargers want to finally get a divisional win, here are three things they MUST do.
1.) Unleash the Bosa
He is finally ready to play! The Chargers No. 3 overall pick hasn’t suited up for them yet this season and has been listed on the injury list the last 4 weeks despite practicing. Darius Philon has been starting in his spot and hasn’t done much, notching six combined tackles with two assisted. He has been losing snaps to Caraun Reid, who has been somewhat impressive, even though he has four combined tackles and one sack. But, it’s time. Bosa is a playmaker and the guy I wanted since Day 1. I know he is already in deep shit with the fans, but, believe me, he is worth the wait.
2.) Someone needs to step up
No Verrett this week just adds on to the playmakers who are on the IR for the Chargers. Who is going to step up and take over? This is a perfect time for Craig Mager to step up and show why Telesco reached for him in the third round. He’s been doing it, but this is also time for Jatavis Brown to step up and fourth-round pick Joshua Perry to step up, as well. These next 12 weeks will be huge for the youth on this team and could be very beneficial to the future success of the Chargers.
3.) Get out of shotgun
I was out with my buddy last week (every week actually) and I kept noticing one thing that was driving me insane: we are continuously in the shotgun slinging the rock 40 times when we have a lead. Now, I get you want to put the ball into your best players’ hands, but it’s looking like last year’s offense and the predictability is through the roof. If you have a lead, run the ball. I’m not a fan of Melvin Gordon, but play the clock and quit trying to outscore the opponent when you are already winning.
Melvin Ingram stated that he had things to show this year.
All the time he has spent studying film, all the hard work and sweat have coalesced into an opportunity he might have briefly thought about: defensive captain. On Wednesday, the Chargers named Ingram as the player who would wear the big “C” on his jersey in place of Manti Te’o, who was recently placed on IR (Achilles’ tear). The other defensive captain is nose tackle Brandon Mebane.
“I ain’t showed nothing,” Ingram told U-T San Diego back in June. “I have so much to show…It ain’t even started. You ain’t even seen what I got going on…When the season starts, everyone is going to see. It’s fixing to get real.”
The fifth-year pro appears to still carry a chip on his shoulder as a result of having missed 25 games in a little more than a year due to injuries. The 2015 campaign was his first full 16-game season since his 2012 rookie year. First there was the torn ACL which occurred May 14, 2013, during OTAs. He did not return to action until early December. Next came the hip injury sustained in a 2014 game against the Seahawks that caused him to miss seven weeks of playing time.
I think after all that adversity I’d be frustrated too!
Through the first three games of 2016, the former South Carolina Gamecock has pretty much matched the statistics of his initial year. Already, No. 54 has collected a combined eight tackles with seven of those being individual efforts. Additionally, Ingram has totaled two sacks, a forced fumble (FF) and a lone defended pass. In his first four career games, he was well on is way to being a force with seven solo tackles and an assist, three PDs and one FF.
In April of 2015, Tom Telesco and the Chargers chose to exercise the fifth-year option of Ingram’s rookie contract. It is worth $7.751 million, per Spotrac.com. It includes a guarantee for injury and becomes fully guaranteed should the stud linebacker be on the roster come Day 1 of the 2017 League Year.
The 2016 season is indeed a year in which “SupaMelvin” will be showcasing his worth from now until December. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017, so he is also playing for the future. Whether that career remains in San Diego or continues elsewhere is unknown.
Fellow teammate Jeremiah Attaochu said it best to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com: “He is a leader first and foremost. And he does it all by example with the way he comes out there each day and plays. He is motivating to all of us with the way he does that. We need that right now as a defense with Manti going down. When Melvin speaks, everyone listens.”
The future is now for Ingram, and if he can get back to the level of play he was on the last nine games of 2015, he’ll receive a large contract and, most likely, remain with the Chargers for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for reading!
Well, this time it wasn’t an offensive player that left a Chargers’ game with an injury.
It was their defensive signal-caller and captain, Manti Te’o.
In what is appearing to be an extremely freakish beginning to their 2016 campaign, the Bolts have suffered significant season-ending injuries to three of their starters in each of the first three games.
Keenan Allen – ACL tear to his right knee.
Danny Woodhead – ACL tear to his right knee.
Add Manti Te’o to the list, though it was his Achilles’ that gave out, not his ACL.
Even more disconcerting is that each man sustained his injury in a non-contact scenario. We’ll discuss that in another article soon.
Te’o left the game early in the first quarter of the game in Indianapolis with an immediate announcement that he was done for the day. Who was going to be “next man up” this time?
Enter rookie Jatavis Brown, a product from the University of Akron and a fifth-round pick by the Bolts in this year’s NFL draft.
While the former Zips’ linebacker was chosen for a number of reasons, his 4.47-second 40-yard dash was a primary one. His versatility and athleticism only add to his ability. Additionally, per Pro Football Focus (PFF), he was only called twice for penalties (1,629 snaps) over the last two years. PFF also stated that in 2015 when utilized as a blitzer, Brown had 15 sacks, 12 hits, and 22 hurries in 144 pass-rushing snaps. I have to say – just WOW! This from a guy who some considered to be on the small side at 5-foot-11 and 221 pounds. Looks to me like he can hold his own for sure!
Prior to his entering the game on Sunday, the only sighting of Brown was in the preseason game versus San Francisco. He started that game and made five tackles — three of which were solo stops. Since then, he has participated in all three regular season games, racking up 15 tackles (10 solo), four PDs (passes defensed) and collecting a sack and a forced fumble.
His Sunday stats were six tackles with two tackles for loss, defending two passes and adding a sack. His strip-sack of Andrew Luck should be part of a highlight reel, as it was scooped up by the recently signed Caraun Reid and run in for the score.
One of the bright spots of the afternoon in Indianapolis.
So, just who is this guy Jatavis Brown? The answer: he is a player that many scouts, teams and the like knocked due to his size, though his playmaking ability spoke for itself. It was thought that if he couldn’t perform at this level as a linebacker that he could be a hybrid-safety type defender.
In his four years at Akron, he amassed 340 tackles (193 solo), three forced fumbles, two passes defensed and an interception. The 40.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks were not only team-bests but also led the MAC while his total tackles gave him 7th best.
NFL Draft Scout had him ranked #13 out of 203 OLBs. Brown was not only chosen the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year, he was also named to the All-MAC Conference 1st-team three consecutive years.
This is the rookie that after the draft Telesco told Chargers.com writer Ricky Henne, “This is the one guy in our draft room that if we didn’t draft, I think there would have been a revolt amongst everyone else in the room…There are certain guys sometimes that have a trigger for everybody. (Brown) was a guy who everybody wanted on our football team. He’s actually the one guy that (we got) so many different texts from across the league (about) saying ‘Great pick!’ ‘Good pick!’ Those are kind of fun text messages to get during the draft.”
Brown told Henne shortly after the draft, “I do think I’m flying under the radar, but I’ve been flying under the radar my whole life,” he said. “I guess that’s just me. I like to prove people wrong, and that’s how I (operate). I don’t like the spotlight. I’m a laid back, chill guy. So this fits me just fine. I like to do all the dirty work, do what I’m supposed to do and I don’t worry about getting the publicity.”
Well, Jatavis Brown…publicity or no, here is your opportunity to take the bull by the horns and show those detractors just who you are. You had a great start in an unfortunate situation, but it’s always “next man up” in the pros.
Yeah, my money is on this young man to get the job done. I’m looking forward to seeing him blitz Brees and blow up a few plays this Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm.
Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts.
It’s week three and the Chargers are on the road. Here are my three things they must do to have a happy flight home
1.) Get Hunter Henry involved
Antonio Gates is out this week due to his ankle so it is the Chargers second round pick time to step up. Henry has one catch on the season for 20 yards and that came in week one vs the Chiefs in the second half. Used mostly as a blocker, Henry will be a huge reason why the offense moves and needs to be implemented as a legitimate pass catching threat.
2.) All aboard the Gordon train
Weird coming from me, I know, but Melvin Gordon looks far better this season than he did a year ago. He is making quick decisions, holding onto the ball (simultaneously knocks on wood) and has cut down on the stutter stepping, although still does this at times. His vision has improved and he is fighting through arm tackles. He is, for the most part, what Telesco moved up to get a year ago. Keep his mojo going and hand him the rock and hopefully he continues his recent success.
3.) Contain Luck, contain the Colts
Andrew Luck has been turnover prone since joining the league in 2013 and taking over for Peyton Manning. Since then, the Chargers have faced him once, beat him, picked him off once and held him to less than 300 yards passing. Whatever worked then, do it again. The Colts are without Donte Moncrief and Jason Verrett is most likely going to be on T.Y. Hilton, unless Hilton goes in the slot. The Colts don’t have the playmakers they once have, but no NFL team should be taken lightly.
What do you guys think? Let me know below and go bolts!
Zak Darman (@WilMyersGOAT)
The San Diego Chargers’ private plane landed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday. The mission: Bring back the Chargers’ number one draft pick, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. Escort him from his childhood home to his adult home, San Diego, as a signed, sealed and delivered star of the future.
Armed with their best and final offer, Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco presented the offer on Tuesday. The offer was rejected on Wednesday. The plane returned to San Diego with the same names on the passenger manifest that it left with.
The mission had failed.
To that end, the Chargers front office released a official statement detailing the specifics of their offer before pulling the offer from the table. Paraphrasing the release, future offers will be adjusted based on the looming reality that Bosa will not get sufficient practice and classroom time to make playing the week one road game against the Kansas City Chiefs a possibility. The more games Bosa misses, the less money he will make out of the gate.
Not to be outdone, the management team of Joey Bosa, CAA, issued a response to the Chargers’ statement. Their statement reads as follows:
It is unfortunate the San Diego Chargers have decided to manipulate facts and negotiate in the media. The team surely is not strengthening its relationship with Joey Bosa by taking this stance and making their position public.
We have decided that we will not engage in public negotiations or discuss numbers and/or terms in this negotiation.
We will say, that it is ironic that the team now takes issue with the timing of Joey’s arrival, since the Chargers unilaterally decided to remain silent for the first 14 days of training camp instead of replying in a timely fashion to the proposal we made on the eve of training camp on July 28th.
At this point, all we can do is continue to fight for a fair contract on behalf of our client, as we do for all of our clients. The Chargers can focus on trying to sway public opinion, but our focus will remain on our client and securing a contract for him that is fair and consistent with his draft position.
This is the typical, We’re-taking-the-high-road response we’ve seen before. If Bosa’s management had gone public first, this would have been the Chargers’ response. Once again, both sides look to be entrenched with no end in sight. At the same time, these situations can turn overnight.
This deal will happen. Bosa will be in lightning bolts before week one is underway. Simply put, there is too much money on the table for the parties to walk away from and have Bosa re-enter the 2017 draft.
1. There’s no way to ever make that money back. Even if Bosa plays for 15 years and is paid handsomely, there is no way he will account for the millions he passed on by sitting out a year. This season will always represent millions more dollars that could have been in the bank.
2. Bosa will not be picked third in the 2017 NFL Draft. The top stars of the 2017 draft class will be taken ahead of Bosa. Bosa may fall into the middle of the first round or lower due to the fact that since the Chargers own his rights, he will not be able to visit, work out for or speak to other teams. The uncertainty will cause his stock to fall and even if he is selected in the first round, he will not make as much as he will by signing with the Chargers this season.
3. Perception of owners and players. Fairly or unfairly, this ordeal casts an unflattering shadow on Bosa. Other NFL owners may pass on him after seeing how the situation unfolded in San Diego. Telesco isn’t the only GM who doesn’t waive offset language or guarantee the full signing bonus before the end of the calendar year. Players may see Bosa as an entitled diva unwilling to earn his paycheck.
In the end, Bosa’s value will never be higher than it is right now. He only hurts his pride and his bottom line if he decides to sit out and re-enter the draft. That decision would run counter to the whole purpose of these frustrating negotiations.
Bosa will not make endorsement money sitting on the couch. He will not become the next big thing in football watching the games on Sundays. The only solution is to suit up, ball out and soak up the adoration of his teammates, the fans, the city, the media and cash in on Madison Avenue as he creates SportsCenter highlights on a weekly basis.
The shrug was local at Ohio State. If he performs up to his ability and shines, it will go viral in the NFL. That’s how you get paid.
It’s go time, rookie.
The Greg One
Running back Donald Brown, formerly of your San Diego Chargers, was released by the New England Patriots on Tuesday, according to reports from ProFootballTalk.com.
Brown occasionally made a play here and there for the Chargers — most notably that long run in 2015 against the Dolphins in what was possibly going to be the Bolts’ last game in San Diego — but he’ll mostly be remembered for signing a three-year deal with the Bolts that paid him north of $10 million that turned out to be a huge overpayment.
General manager Tom Telesco clearly had a lot of respect for Brown, keeping him on the roster much longer than he needed to, considering a minimal amount of production from the former Colt.
I must admit that when it was first announced that Brown was signing with the Patriots, I immediately thought to myself, “watch, he’ll provide a significant and useful contribution while in New England.”
Well, that’s what I get for “thoughting.” (My Dad used to pull that shit with me when I was a kid and I told him what I thought about certain plays and players.)
Brown is now set to be a free agent, and no, I do not believe he’ll ever be back in a Chargers’ uniform; thank goodness.
The San Diego Chargers host the Arizona Cardinals for a week of practice leading up to their game Friday. The Cardinals begin practice at Chargers Park on Tuesday after having their home turf taken over by Guns N’ Roses’ massive arena tour on Monday. On Tuesday, practice will be at Qualcomm Stadium, Wednesday at Chargers Park. Both teams will take the day off Thursday to rest before the game Friday.
The joint practice will be a nice change-of-pace for both teams. Undoubtedly, they’re all tired of hitting each other in practice. One could expect the intensity level of practice to heighten with men in different colored jerseys on the opposite sideline. This will be a big week for the players fighting to make the roster.
Living in Phoenix, I have heard plenty of juicy tidbits coming from the Cardinals’ side of the ball. The Arizona Cardinals are a Super Bowl favorite and a great way for the Chargers to test themselves against one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league. Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians expressed his respect for Chargers’ head coach Mike McCoy on local radio Monday and talked about the joint practice.
“That’s the one thing, I enjoy working with Mike McCoy because we have the same philosophy.” Arians said. “We wouldn’t practice any different. We wouldn’t hit a guy going over the middle on our team in practice; we won’t hit one of their guys going over the middle. We always stay away from the quarterback.” Arians continued.
“It’s creating competition but it’s practice, and we’ve got 180 guys on the same team for three days. Then we’ll play them in the game and all bets are off.” Arians said on the Doug and Wolf morning radio show Monday.
More interestingly, Cardinals’ General Manager Steve Keim was also on the radio Monday talking about the road trip and made no bones about the fact he was looking to wheel and deal if the opportunity presents itself.
“I reached out to Tom Telesco last night and he and I will get together before practices start and talk about both of our rosters,” Keim started. “See where our deficiencies are you know; in hopes that you can always talk about, hey, is there an area where we can help each other improve?” Keim stated.
This kind of talk goes on behind-the-scenes at every joint practice if the front office is worth their salt. There are two 90-man rosters full of guys playing their hardest to showcase their talents for their current team and whomever else may be watching. What’s curious about this case is that Keim, who does a radio segment every week in Phoenix, has made it no secret over the past two weeks that he will be actively pursuing a healthy exchange of ideas and hopefully players during this trip to San Diego.
Sounds like the Chargers have something the Cardinals want…
Let’s look at the possibilities. The Cardinals have a wealth of depth at their defensive line, wide receiver, secondary and running back positions. They are lacking on their offensive line, especially at right tackle. The Cards are currently starting D.J. Humphries. Humphries was their first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Arians listed Humphries as inactive for every game last season because of his inability to grasp the playbook and laziness on the practice field. Humphries earned the unfortunate nickname “knee-deep” referring to Arians’ disposition with Humphries in 2015.
Arizona’s deficiencies at linebacker have been hidden due to the effectiveness of the secondary and defensive line. If the Cardinals plan on carrying a third quarterback, it won’t be NFL journeyman Matt Barkley or Jake Coker, an undrafted free agent signee out of Alabama. Both quarterbacks have been unimpressive in camp and in their first preseason game.
San Diego has an abundance of talent at linebacker where they currently have 15 linebackers on their roster. The Chargers also have better depth at tight end, quarterback and offensive tackle. The possibilities for a talent exchange is endless but I will give you five names to watch.
RB Andre Ellington: The Cardinals drafted Ellington in the sixth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Lower leg and foot injuries have derailed what was a phenomenal start to his career. Ellington is finally back to full strength from his injuries but with Chris Johnson (who led the NFL in rushing yards before he went down to injury in 2015), the emergence of David Johnson, Stepfan Taylor (considered the best pass protector of the group) and Kerwynn Williams on board, Ellington may be the odd man out. Ellington would be a great insurance policy for Melvin Gordon and he is an electrifying return man as well. Just how fast is Ellington? He ran the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 4.51-seconds with a pulled hamstring!
QB Mike Bercovici and G Vi Teofilo: Both of these men played their college ball right down the I-10 at Arizona State University. Bercovici has been the most impressive of the quarterbacks the Chargers have brought in during the offseason. Kellen Clemens and Zach Mettenberger are likely to be second and third on the quarterback depth chart unless Telesco sees enough promise in Bercovici to make one of the two expendable. Teofilo is a 6″3′-inch, 315-pound guard who fills a need for depth at that position.
CB Justin Bethel: In a very crowded Cardinals’ secondary room, Bethel has sat on the sidelines with a foot injury and watched as his job is threatened by rookie third-round pick Brandon Williams. Williams has wowed the coaching staff with one head-turning practice after another and is making the most of his quick ascension to the first team.
Bethel was a key piece of the Cardinals’ 2015 secondary as the number two cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. With Peterson locking down his side of the field, lots of balls came Bethels’ way and he was up to the task with 46 combined tackles, nine passes defensed, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and two forced fumbles. Bethel was signed to a three-year, $15-million dollar contract extension in the offseason and made the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive year in 2015 as a special-teamer. Arians has a reputation for his disdain for players in the trainers’ room. Bethel could be moved if the price is right.
ILB Manti Te’o: Manti isn’t on the bubble but this is a contract year for him. Many stories are afloat about Te’o finally coming into his own as a leader. Foot injuries limited his effectiveness in his first two seasons but he finally showed what he is capable of in 2015 as he led the Chargers in tackles with 107 combined tackles. Te’o had a strong finish to his 2015 season, especially after Denzel Perryman was promoted to starter midway through the season. The two had an unspoken chemistry and played well off each other.
Why would the Chargers let him go now?
Te’o leaves you wanting more and not necessarily in a good way. Every missed tackle, every time a receiver catches a ball right in front of him, every time he’s left behind by a running back we shake our heads in frustration. To his credit, 2015 was hands down the best we’ve seen of him. However, there is a reason Telesco hasn’t offered him an extension when he has been diligently signing the Chargers’ core players to multi-year deals.
A Te’o-for-Bethel deal works for both sides.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One