San Diego Chargers: 5 Bolts Who Will Have Thunderous Seasons
Much like the 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist basketball team, the 2012 San Diego Chargers are hovering along the same lines of “The Redeem Team.”
That being said, there are certain individuals who are poised to rise to the occasion and carry the squad to a playoff birth.
The Chargers have scoured the NFL this offseason in search for the missing ingredients to reinforce their already talent-rich team. Through trades, draft picks, and the free-agency wire, the Bolts made the appropriate strides toward reclaiming the rights to the AFC West title.
So, whose going to deliver this season? Let me help you harness your focus with my version of five players that will.
Honorable mentions: Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd, Tyronne Greene, Antwan Barnes, Antonio Garay
It is no lie, from coaches to football analysts and fantasy football owners, the majority of the hype that has surrounded the Chargers this offseason, has been about No. 24. Entering his third year, projections have him pinned atop the list of backs to watch in 2012.
One determining factor that has remained, is his health. However, in 14 games last season, he ran for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns.
His fearless attitude and relentless work ethic have taken the brunt of the load in his young career. Mathews is poised to accept the increased duties, and propel himself into the same breath with the top backs in the league.
His electrifying speed and agility to bounce it to the outside, or his ability to stick his nose between the tackles, are elements of his game that make him such a threat whenever he has the rock.
And if that's not enough, the Bolts corralled a bulldozer in Le'Ron McClain to ensure a clear path to the end zone.
Mathews has yet to disappoint, so why not hop aboard the bandwagon with everyone else?
Don't say I didn't tell you so.
The Chargers were dealt a gift on April 26th, when Melvin Ingram was still remaining on the board with the 18th overall pick.
A rookie on the list may seem a bit of a long shot, but not Ingram. There is nobody else more NFL ready than No. 54.
Ingram’s low center of gravity and sturdy frame will make him an elite pass rusher off the edge; something the Bolts have been seeking since the loss of Shawne Merriman.
In 2011, the Bolts tallied across a pathetic 32 total team sacks, which was good for 23rd in the league. He will gel perfectly into the 3-4 defense, creating havoc in the backfield.
Embedded within a solid core of veteran leaders, Ingram will blossom into the next most talked about player in the league. Ingram has all the tangibles you look for in an elite pass rusher, and above all he has the swagger to back it up.
He has that leadership ability and prowess to call the shots on defense. He will be a nightmare for the offensive line, terrorizing them with his speed and maneuverability to shed blockers.
Get used to hearing the name, because Super Melvin is about to rewrite the books in San Diego. A defense that has been drowning for the past few years is back in 2012.
With a featured four-back attack at the TE position, it is safe to question how much longer the Chargers think the tread on No. 85’s tires is good for?
Dante Rosario hasn’t quite established a presence for himself in his first five seasons. But if you're a Chargers fan, the name is all too familiar. His claim to fame came in 2008, when he caught a leaping back-of-the-end-zone touchdown pass over the head of Eric Weddle as time expired to seal the victory for the Carolina Panthers.
He spent four seasons with Carolina before splitting time with Miami and Denver last season. Now, as a Charger, Rosario will influence their red-zone offense this season, providing the role of an additional skill position next to Gates.
Don’t look for Rosario’s fantasy numbers to tick, rather look for him to be the difference maker in critical short yard situations. Remember, Randy McMichael stands in his way. But he may also be called upon at times to make up for the loss of Vincent Jackson's height.
Rosario is a descent blocker, who might restore the halfback position, as we saw in the blocking specialist, Brandon Manumaleuna.
Rosario sits in the crosshairs of sputtering out or transcending his career. The Chargers have given him a new life and an opportunity to display his talents. Rosario will fill the gap when necessary, and serve as a go-to receiver off of Gates’ double-team.
If I were to define Eddie Royal's career into one word, it would be playmaker. In his rookie campaign in 2008, the dude went ballistic. He recorded 91 receptions for 980 yards and five touchdowns.
After that, the next three seasons combined wound up almost equaling his reception yardage total. Scuffles between the coaching staff and quarterback situations played a big part in his following years. And obviously he wasn't going to come within the same ballpark of numbers with friar Tebow and his 10 passes per game taking the snaps.
Now, under a stabilized offense, and gunslinger in Philip Rivers, Royal will rise to the occasion in 2012.
He will provide the much needed assurance underneath, as the check down slot receiver. He will also show off his speed and agility posing as another streaking deep ball threat.
His abilities are unprecedented when he has the ball in his hands. The Bolts have lacked in the special teams category since the names of Eric Parker or Darren Sproles. Games are decided on one play, and Royal will ignite the offense, by providing a spark on special teams.
If used properly, the Chargers have struck gold. Offense or special teams, Royal will create opportunities and make things happen.
Rivers can breathe a sigh of relief, as his security blanket is solidified for 2012.
With the loss of the injury prone left tackle, Marcus McNeill, Rivers’ blindside was left vacant. That gaping hole was cemented when the Chargers claimed Jared Gather off waivers from division rival, Kansas City Chiefs last season.
Before Gaither’s arrival to San Diego, Rivers was busy getting thrown around like a rag doll nearly every time he dropped back. So much, that he was sacked for an exhausting 28 times through the first 11 games.
Rivers’ body language wrote the script for the season. However, with Gaither manning the starting position, Rivers only went down twice in the remaining five games, as they almost marched their way back into playoff contention.
After securing the starting role, and agreeing to a four-year term with the Bolts, Gaither’s solidified presence will provide Rivers with the necessary protection to thread the needle, or launch the deep ball on time.