Chargers pre-season preview: Chargers take on Rams at SoFi
Los Angeles Chargers training camp. Photo credit: Ryan Dyrud | LAFB network
Chargers Pre-Season Preview
The Chargers will face the defending Super Bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams under Sean McVay did not face their main holders during the pre-season. Following in his footsteps, Brandon Staley did not play and do not intend to face their main holders as well. This is the path many young NFL coaches are beginning to take.
While pre-season games might not be as exciting without seeing the best players play, it does provide more opportunities for players competing for a spot on the team.
Now that the pre-season is only three games long, it is extremely important for players about to make the squad or be eliminated to perform very well in the first game. This game can make or break many players’ seasons.
On top of that, it’s also a crucial time for players vying for a starting spot or a key backup role.
I’ll cover 4 different things I’m looking forward to seeing in the game, whether it’s a specific player or multiple players competing for a spot.
1 – Breiden Fehoko
Myself, as well as many others, believed that Breiden Fehoko deserved to make the roster last season on a permanent basis. He had a very good camp last year and played well when given the opportunity to prove himself. He’s built on that this season and, according to reports from training camp, appeared to separate himself from other defensive linemen who are vying for a spot on the roster. He reportedly consistently made plays in the backfield and was part of other splash plays.
The reason I’m looking forward to watching it is to see if it can continue to build on its excellent practices. The team recently released their first “unofficial” depth chart and didn’t have Breiden as high as I think he should be. I want to see Breiden dominate in this game and continue to prove he belongs as a mainstay on the 53-man roster this coming season.
2 – Battle for the right tackle
By far, the team’s most important positional battle during training camp is the right starting tackle spot. It really seems like this is the only starting position that really competes. The players who compete there are Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins.
Last season Storm started almost every game and had games where he would look usable and then games where he looked like the reason the offense would crumble. Pipkins was rather disappointing during his time with the team.
Many coaches talk about the fact that both players are making great strides this offseason and seem better prepared for the starting job. It is important that not only does someone win the job, but whoever wins it is able to compete at a much higher level than before.
I believe Pipkins ultimately wins the job, but in this game I’m looking forward to seeing how consistent the players are when they’re in it, and who has better communication with the lineman they’re playing next to.
3 – Special teams
It’s not aimed at any specific player or anything, but I’m very happy to see how each part of the special teams performs in this game. The Chargers still have a very below average unit with historically some of the worst in NFL history. If the Chargers truly have Super Bowl aspirations, they simply can’t have a below average unit anymore.
As for the final spots on the roster, it largely depends on what they can bring to the special teams table. The Chargers struggled to turn the pitch over, whether it was a punt or a punt return. Coaches and players have consistently implemented special teams this offseason, and I’m excited to see what’s being implemented.
4 – JT Woods
Every year, there is a recruit in the team that I consider “my guy”. This player is never the one they choose in the first round, but rather someone who is chosen between rounds 3-5 who looks like another player on the team. Last year my guy was Josh Palmer, and this year it’s JT Woods.
There are many things you can teach in the NFL, but natural instincts and pure athletic ability are things that cannot be taught. Woods has a ton of athletic ability and can fly all over the field, I love watching his tape; you always see him flying and playing games.
Woods seemed to be slowly starting to camp, but he’s definitely been making more noise lately. Woods playing at a higher level would simply give Staley another piece to his defense he could use to make forwards guess how many playmakers will be in the secondary.
I’m going to find out how much he’s playing, where he’s going to line up mostly, and really how much freedom Staley is going to let him play. I really think he’s someone who can be a top contributor as a substitute this season, and I can’t wait to see what he looks like in game action.
There are so many players that I’m glad to see where it’s hard to narrow it all down. A lot of people don’t enjoy the preseason, and while it might not be close to what the regular season offers, I enjoy watching the pure passion of players literally fighting for a job. I can’t wait to see who will take the lead in good tackling work, the backup running back position and which players will be top contributors that we may not be talking about right now.