Boys Bolts are back in town!! The Boys Bolts are back in ta-ow-ow-own!!
After the Hall of Fame game on Sunday gave us a teaser, the first week of NFL preseason games starts on Thursday. With 15 games over the five days, it’ll be our first look at our favorite team.
As the San Diego Chargers take their first step towards a Super Bowl run, they run into a team they could be emulating quite a lot of this season. But first, the “chaaaagers”
The Chargers come into 2015 with high hopes after a disappointing campaign last year. They finished third in the AFC West with a 9-7 record. Losing three out of the last four games ended their season on a sour note as a strong push could have earned them a spot in the playoffs.
While the Chargers’ starters might only be playing one quarter, it will be great to see how the new weapons and additions on offense gel.
The Wide receiving core looks to be stacked as Steven Johnson comes over from the Bay Area after one season with the 49er’s. Rivers will be looking to establish a connection with him early and often.
Another important storyline will be tight end Ladarius Green getting reps. With Antonio Gates four game suspension, Green will be looking to make an impact in preseason to show the coaches and his teammates he’s ready to take over.
The offensive line boasts a couple new faces, G Orlando Franklin, T Chris Hariston and T Joe Barksdale, will help anchor a much improved offensive line.
Hitting the holes those lineman open up will be first round pick Melvin Gordon. He has to be the player fans are most excited to see in a game situation and we’ll get the first look of him on Thursday.
Danny Woodhead returns after only playing in three games last season before a broken leg ended his season on IR. Look to see plenty of him with the first team and mixing it up as the third down back. Brendan Oliver should also be in line for carries early in the first half.
The Chargers will be looking to pound the rock a lot more this season and they don’t have to look around for a better blue print to do that than the guys lining up across from them.
You’re going to want to pay attention on special teams now that kick returner and wide receiver Jacoby Jones is returning kicks. The ex-Baltimore Raven brings his explosive play-making ability that will sure to make an impact early and often on what was dismal aspect of the Charger’s teams of yesteryear.
Of course the rookies and undrafted free-agents will be looking to make a splash and make
the 53-man roster. I already mentioned Melvin Gordon, but Denzel Perryman and Craig Mager will be in the mix on the defensive side of the ball. I’m going to guess the over/under of plays before Perryman blasts some poor running back in the backfield is 3.
Outside linebacker Kyle Emanuel, fifth round pick, will provide some depth off the edge and look to get involved in the defensive rotations. Same can be said for defensive end Darius Philon, sixth round. One of the Charger’s few weak points in the defensive line so we will see what kind of impact Philon can have.
Position Battle to Watch
The position battle I’m looking forward for the Chargers is at Strong Safety. With the addition of San Diego native Jimmy Wilson from the Dolphins, three players will be battling for the starting spot. Jahleel Addae is the front-runner because he is a returning player, but Wilson is a strong, physical safety that could take over as starter if he can improve defending the pass. Darrell Stuckey will also be in the mix and look for him to have an impact on special teams as well.
The defending NFC East champs had one of the best offenses in the league last season. Last seasons leading rusher DeMarco Murray ran behind one of the league’s best lines for a tune of 1,835 yards and 13 TD’s. Murray has since departed to the rival Philadelphia Eagles in free-agency which will open up the door for a new face in the Dallas backfield.
The problem is injuries have been piling up for the Cowboys early and often during training camp.
Running backs Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar will both be out Thursday, leaving the door wide open for Joseph Randle to grab a hold the starting job. Second year player Lache Seastrunk and undrafted rookie Gus Johnson will also see time at the RB position.
Cowboy’s star wide out Dez Bryant has been battling a hamstring injury and is not likely to suit up for the preseason game. While it robs us of a great match-up between Brandon Flowers and Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Lucky Whitehead (can’t forget about him) will look to get in extra reps as the primary wide out for Tony Romo.
The rookies for the Cowboys are headlined by defensive end Randy Gregory. The relentless pass-rusher saw his draft stock fall from top 10 to the second round after he failed a drug test for marijuana at the combine.
Gregory will be looking to prove he belongs and his pressure off the edge will be a good test for our tackles.
Cornerback Byron Jones would have been factoring in as a slot or backup corner, but with the injury to Brandon Carr (broken hand), he should be getting a bump on the depth chart. The corner from Connecticut is built like a greek god but is very raw fundamentally and look for Rivers to exploit mismatches.
Position Battle to Watch
The Dallas Cowboys ranked 28th last year in sacks, so they went out and signed Greg Hardy while drafting Randy Gregory and their fifth round pick Ryan Russell. With Hardy slated to miss four games with the suspension, I’m looking for who will step up along with Gregory. Too many unknowns right now on the Dallas defense, it will be interesting to watch if they can show they have depth in their front seven and get to the quarterback.
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego California
When: Thursday, August 13
Time: 7:00 pm PT