Notes from Chargers camp day 1
The excitement was in the air today for the opening day of Chargers camp. A bunch of likeminded people with the same interest and rooting cause mixed with a warm day and cool breeze. Aww football is officially here yet again. So many new faces on the roster and so many questions as to how they will look and fit it, if at all. Not too much emphasis should be made whether good or bad on day one as it is just that, day one. Players are anxious to get started and or rusty. For the new additions, the likelihood of wanting to quickly make a name for themselves can lead to pressing to hard. This early on it’s really about getting into a groove and getting timing down. None the less I’m here to tell what I saw.
On defense Gus Bradley like to have versatile players so during camp you will see many players rotating at different positions. Even though there isn’t a large amount of this going on, it is more common of the defensive backs group. Of note last year’s fourth round pick out of the U Rayshawn Jenkins played many if not most of the rep’s at free safety with the first team defense. Last year’s highly touted rookie Desmond King also got some rep’s at free safety. Many people have wondered if they would play him at the position eventually, as that’s what he projected as coming out of last year’s draft. However he proved ever so valuable at the slot corner position. Playing both would allow him to stay on the field more often rotating up at slot corner or moving back to center field and back and forth. Think of a role similar to Tyrann Mathieu. At the corner position undrafted free agent from Alabama Tony Brown also performed very well in coverage. I picked him as one of three surprise players to make the roster. The Chargers have had an undrafted free agent make the final roster 21 season’s in a row. The pick of Tony Brown is now more of likelihood now that Jason Verrett is lost for the season yet again. He also seems to be the type of corner that Gus Bradley loves to utilize and get the most out of. Casey Hayward also picked off Geno Smith at one point in a zone scheme. It wasn’t necessarily a bad throw; just that Hayward really made a great read and leap to snag it. The defensive unit seemed to go nuts and swarm Hayward in celebration, only showing the type of cohesive swagger this defensive unit has with each other. Rookies Derwin James and Kyzir White did not get playing time today. Kyle Emanuel looks to be penciled in as the starting SAM linebacker thus far. Likley it will be easy for him to lose if several possible rookies show promise as Emanuel was very unreliable in coverage last year.
On the offensive side of the ball the offensive line looked great as they opened up several holes to aid the running backs. Both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler had several large runs they were able to break off. I look for this running back duo to have a big year. The Receiver core seemed to be fairly rusty dropping several balls and or being late on timing getting there head around on back shoulder passes. The one most guilty of this was last year’s first round pick Mike Williams. Williams will need to have a big rebound year after missing most of last season with a back injury. The only wide out who didn’t look rusty, and in fact looked great was Travis Benjamin. Phillip Rivers connected with him three times on deep routes. Keenan Allen also looked decent however only ran short intermediate routes as they began to ease everyone in slowly. He did shine in one on one drills against Casey Hayward. The backup quarterbacks failed to impress. Geno Smith looked like….well Geno Smith. Cardel Jones looked god awful. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t even make the second round of cuts. Nic Schimonek out of Texas Tech will probably prove to be most valuable as the backup. At the tight end position nobody really showed much of anything to make anyone feel comfortable about the position. This will be one storyline to absolutely keep an eye on throughout camp.
The biggest wow moment I got from the day was from punter drew Kaiser kicking both a booming 80 yard punt on his first attempt along with a 87 yarder. Both kicks sailed with a perfect spiral. Again not much is to be made of day one results. As the offseason progresses I will keep everyone updated on how all these storylines play out. It’s always interesting to see the things that can turn into season long trends and how player mature throughout the course of time heading into the season.