Once again the injury bug has reared its ugly head in San Diego. During the San Diego Chargers July 31st practice Stevie Johnson, was carted off the field with an apparent knee injury. News of a torn meniscus was announced one day later. It is no secret that in the NFL, knee injuries or ACL’s seem to run a muck prior to every season. If only we could turn injuries off the way we do in Madden football when we play video games. If only it were that simple.
Tom Telesco & company quickly made a big signing. No, not that one… we all wish it was Joey Bosa. However the team did sign veteran wide receiver and longtime Green Bay Packer, James Jones. The wide out Jones had a brief stint in Oakland in 2014 prior to re-joining Green Bay in 2015. Jones posted 50 receptions for 890 yards and eight TD’s. Jones now in his 10th season, should be a “plug and play” participant in the Chargers offense. While he isn’t as fast as Stevie Johnson, Jones is more sure-handed and a stronger red zone type wide out than the aforementioned. Jones brings a Super Bowl pedigree and experience to the Chargers’ team with a nice mix of youngsters.
Watch out for a player I have raved about at length. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams. The second year undrafted free-agent has been a hot topic on just about every media outlet, big or small. It will be interesting to see what coaches Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt do with him. The kid can fly and is in the mold of the 50-50 ball, which number 17 covets greatly. I was fortunate enough to see him in practice recently. This kid has the “It” factor.
Dontrelle Inman is “Mr. Hard Worker” I also saw Dontrelle at practice recently. Ignore him if you want to. I’m sure that’s exactly what he wants. It will be interesting to see if Jones, can ward off these two young playmakers, or if Philip simply has his way by implementing all of them. Inman is a smooth runner that makes it look effortless at times. There was a specific play where I saw Inman, beat Verrett. That’s no easy task.
Keenan Allen, fresh of his bling bling contract is arguably the hardest working guy on the team, not named Philip Rivers. If he stays healthy he should be an All-Pro/Pro Bowler. He gets in and out of his breaks, with some of the best footwork and hands in the league. I personally cannot wait to see him versus a talented Arizona secondary. His 2015 kidney injury and what he considers a lack of respect, makes for an excellent practice and game with Arizona.
Hunter Henry is a playmaker and what we have read about him is true. This young man takes no plays off. He should have a long career in this league. He blocks, he catches everything, he is much faster than he may look also. How lucky one must be to play with a future Hall of Famer in Antonio Gates. Some of the snaps Stevie Johnson would have gotten are headed to Henry. There is a plethora of playmakers on this club. I am a bit of a homer yes, however anyone with a set of working eyes can see this kid has a high ceiling. Enjoy the battles he has with Tyrann Mathieu & Patrick Peterson.
X Factor Rookie Fullback Derek Watt:
Derek Watt has opened eyes in camp early. I am not quite sure if he will be more Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk, or Jacob Hester than Lorenzo Neal. He is a football player though and a man with a proud last name. Watt is also a former Wisconsin teammate of second-year running back Melvin Gordon. He is also the younger brother of All Pro/All World Houston Texan, J.J. Watt. Derek Watt should be a prime beneficiary of playing in an offense that is wide open. I see no reason he won’t be in the mix for some carries as well.
Arians was a one time candidate for the San Diego Chargers head coaching vacancy back in 2013. Bruce Arians has quickly become one of my favorites. He has served as an offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh 2007-2011. Arians did a masterful job in Indianapolis in 2012 as offensive coordinator and interim coach after Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. The Colts went 9-3 during that time before Pagano was healthy enough to return. The Arizona Cardinals wisely hired him prior to the 2013 season. The Cardinals have been steadily improving. Arizona has held records of 10-6, 11-5, & 13-3 every season since Arians took over in 2013.
Red Birds to Watch:
Calais Campbell-Defensive End
61 tackles, five sacks in 2015
*Chandler Jones-Outside Linebacker
36 Career Sacks, 12.5 in 2015
*Recently acquired from New England in a trade for former Arizona Cardinals’ offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper this off-season
17 career interceptions in five years
Already considered one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Patrick Peterson backs away from no competition. He is the self-proclaimed best cornerback in the league. He has had debates about being number one with Richard Sherman in the past.
Eight career interceptions in three years. Mathieu also was rewarded for his play with a new mega deal from Arizona.
D.J. Swearinger-Big Hitter, better against the run somewhat of a journeyman. He fits well with this team. HOU, TB, ARI
This is the ideal team to practice with and to play a few days later. There will be great matchups all over the field. Enjoy San Diego, the NFL is back!
DT Calais Campbell
NT Corey Peters
SLB Chandler Jones
ILB Deone Bucannon
ILB Kevin Minter
WLB Markus Golden
LCB Patrick Peterson
RCB Brandon Williams
SS D.J. Swearinger
FS Tyrann Mathieu