With the recent loss of Junior Seau, the city of San Diego hasn't been the same. Seau was the heart and sole of the Chargers defense for many seasons including their only Super Bowl appearance. Junior Seau may be gone, but he will always be remembered. #RIP55
It's been two years now since the San Diego Chargers have won the AFC West. Many fans expected Norv Turner and A.J. Smith to be let go or at least one of them, but instead both will return for the 2012 season. They were definitely put on notice in San Diego, so this year both men will do their very best to win the fans back.
A.J. Smith has done a great job so far. The amount of talent that has been brought in is spectacular. They're already better than they were last year on paper. Now it's time for Norv Turner and Smith to sit back at training camp and figure out which players will be making the final roster.
Here's an updated look at the depth chart.
We'll begin with the leader.
1. Philip Rivers
2. Charlie Whitehurst
3. Jarret Lee
The Chargers made one of the hardest decisions they've ever made a couple of years ago. They chose to make Philip Rivers their franchise quarterback over Drew Brees. Regardless of how each has played since then, San Diego made the right decision. This is with no disrespect to Brees, but Philip Rivers has the best mindset of any player I've ever seen. The Chargers have never had any problems getting effort out of Philip Rivers. This will not change.
Charlie Whitehurst returns to the Chargers to be the backup quarterback. It may be a step down from Billy Volek, who was asking for too much money, but he knows the system and should be effective if needed to be.
Jarret Lee is a smart player. If the Chargers want to roll the dice and go with three quarterbacks on the roster, Lee would be a perfect fit. It seems unlikely though. San Diego would much rather have another guy for special teams than a third quarterback.
The Chargers lack depth and experience in this area.
1. Ryan Mathews
2. Curtis Brinkley
3. Edwin Baker
4. Michael Hayes
Ryan Mathews is the clear starter here. When healthy, he's a top five running back in the NFL. The truth of the matter is, he can't stay healthy. Last season, Mike Tolbert was the second running back. His production will be missed if he is not replaced. Curtis Brinkley has potential, and he showed that last season when both Mathews and Tolbert were hurt. He just isn't ready to assume the backup position.
Edwin Baker and Michael Hayes are both rookies. One of the two will make the team unless a veteran back is signed. There are still many players out there with a lot of experience that could benefit San Diego.
LaDainian Tomlinson said that he's 95% retired. He's willing to join the RIGHT team if wanted. Could the RIGHT team be the Chargers?
This position has vastly improved.
1. Le'Ron McClain
2. Jacob Hester
3. Mohamed Marah
The signing of Le'Ron McClain could be the most underrated move in free agency this off-season. The last time the Chargers had a dominant running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, he had a great fullback in front of him, Lorenzo Neal. The combination of McClain and Mathews should be deadly.
Jacob Hester is a great player. His hustle is appreciated by San Diego. He'll be used mainly on special teams. Having Hester as a backup fullback is a dream come true for the Chargers. Hester has the capability to start for another NFL team.
Mohamed Marah, unless he's great on special teams, will more than likely be cut.
Most NFL fans think the Chargers have downgraded in receivers after losing Vincent Jackson, but they have actually upgraded.
1. Malcom Floyd
2. Robert Meachem
3. Eddie Royal
4. Vincent Brown
5. Richard Goodman
6. Roscoe Parrish
7. Micheal Spurlock
8. Hubert Anyiam
9. Jason Barnes
10. Paul Cox
11. Taylor Embree
12. Philip Payne
13. Mike Willie
Yes, I know what you're thinking: Why in the world are there 13 receivers? Give it time. They are giving themselves options. Floyd, Meachem, Royal and Brown will all make the team. Then comes decision time for Smith and Turner. Goodman, Parrish and Spurlock have a good chance at making the team because of their special teams ability. I think the Chargers will keep six receivers. There are gonna be nine receivers fighting for two spots. It should get interesting.
Is there any question here to whom the Chargers' starting tight end will be?
1. Antonio Gates
2. Randy McMichael
3. LaDarius Green
4. Dante Rosario
5. Kory Sperry
6. Brad Taylor
Antonio Gates says he's entering camp feeling very strong and as healthy as he has his entire career. This is great news for the Chargers. Randy McMichael was re-signed this off-season. He's the ideal backup tight end and is also a great locker room presence. LaDarius Green was drafted in the fourth round this year. He was the first offensive player taken by the Chargers. They felt that he would be taken early in the third, and when they saw him available in the fourth, they jumped all over him.
With San Diego drafting Green, it should mean the end for Sperry, Taylor and Rosario. Expect the Chargers to keep Gates, McMichael and Green on the roster.