San Diego Chargers Complete 2012 NFL Preseason and Training Camp Guide
The San Diego Chargers will officially kick off their full-squad training camp on July 26 at Chargers Park. Rookies are scheduled to arrive by July 22 with veterans reporting on July 25.
Once considered front-runners of the AFC's weakest divisions, the Chargers will prepare for the start of the 2012 season as potential underdogs in a revitalized AFC West. Last season, the Denver Broncos managed to squeak by into the postseason with a mundane 8-8 record—the same record that both the Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs finished with as well. However, capturing the AFC West crown will require a more lengthy effort this season with all the recent roster upgrades in the division.
The Chargers have a lot of work to do before their first preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 9, let alone the season opener on Monday Night Football against the rival Oakland Raiders.
The following is a complete guide to San Diego's preseason and training camp, preparing you for everything worth noting before the season gets underway.
The Biggest Question Marks
Can Norv Turner and A.J. Smith save their jobs in 2012?
There's no question that head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith are on the hot seat going into the 2012 season. The fact that both men were not fired at the end of last season was a complete shock.
Smith did an amazing job picking up players via the draft and free agency during the offseason, so his fate will ultimately depend on the team's success on the field. Turner, on the other hand, has to find some way to get his team into the postseason. Another 8-8 season won't be enough to get to the playoffs in a revamped AFC West, and it certainly won't be enough to save Turner's job.
Can Philip Rivers rebound in 2012?
Philip Rivers was not himself last season. Career-highs in fumbles (7) and interceptions (20) made one of the best quarterbacks in the league look like a rookie. Despite making the Pro Bowl, Rivers' performance last season cost San Diego wins on the schedule. Without their elite quarterback playing up to par, the Chargers could once again miss out.
How will the Chargers fare without Vincent Jackson?
Former Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson cashed in on a big payday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason, but how will his exit from San Diego affect the Chargers offense?
Ex-New Orleans Saints receiver Robert Meachem and ex-Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal were the biggest additions to San Diego's offense, and expectations for them to replace Jackson's production couldn't be higher. Malcom Floyd is another definite name to watch for as he will finally get his shot at the No. 1 receiver slot left by Jackson.
Has the pass rush finally improved?
One of the most nagging problems with this team in recent years has been the lack of an effective pass rush. The Chargers addressed that issue with defensive players in the draft and free agency. San Diego also has a new defensive coordinator in John Pagano. Will the combination of all these changes finally resurrect the Chargers pass rush?
Will Ryan Mathews live up to the hype?
Many are predicting that Ryan Mathews will have a breakout year in his third season as San Diego's running back. For the first time in his three-year career, Mathews will be carrying the load in the running game without a solid No. 2. As the feature back, Mathews will handle the majority of the Chargers' carries, but is he ready for the big stage so soon?
Players on the Roster Bubble
Larry English (OLB)
Former 2009 first-round pick Larry English may be under contract through 2014, but that doesn't guarantee him a roster spot in 2012. With all the acquisitions made on defense, English will have an exceptionally difficult time getting playing time. Reports are that English is finally healthy, but he has yet to prove his worth as a high draft pick. San Diego may keep him as a reserve, but if he fails to produce, he could easily be shopped around.
Kory Sperry (TE)
Fourth-year man Kory Sperry will have to really wow coaches if he wants to make this roster. Aside from the dynamic veteran duo of Antonio Gates and Randy McMichael, the Chargers added a young athletic rookie from Louisiana-Lafayette in Ladarius Green. Dante Rosario was also added via free agency.
Jarrett Lee (QB)
LSU product Jarrett Lee was a surprise asset to the Tigers at the beginning of the 2011 season, but making the roster at the next level will be tough considering the Chargers already have a trusted backup in Charlie Whitehurst.
Michael Hayes (RB)
Most likely, Curtis Brinkley and rookie Edwin Baker will compete for the third running back slot. Rookie Michael Hayes has gotten some touches in practice thus far, but it doesn't look like he'll be a favorite to make the final cut.
Robert Malone (P)
This has to be a given roster cut. Mike Scifres is and will be the starting punter for this team.
Nick Novak (K)
It's a shame to have to let go either Nate Kaeding or Nick Novak. Both guys are very accurate, but someone has to go. I'm guessing Novak will be the casualty considering the long history Kaeding has with the team and his experience.
Taylor Embree (WR)
Taylor Embree was one of UCLA's very few stars, but the Chargers may not have enough room for him on a crowded list of receivers looking to make the team as well.
Arthur Hobbs (CB)
San Diego seems to be pretty set with Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason starting at cornerback. Backups Shareece Wright and Marcus Gilchrist are also guarantees to make the team. For Hobbs to make this team, he'll need to really impress and possibly make strides as a special teams guy.
Ricky Elmore (LB)
A sixth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2011, Ricky Elmore was cut after an abysmal training camp. San Diego upgraded at linebacker with some veterans this offseason, so Elmore can't afford to repeat the past.
Sean Cattouse (FS)
Eric Weddle is obviously the starter at free safety, and while rookie Sean Cattouse may be the only other free safety on the roster, that doesn't mean he's a lock to make the team. Third-round draft choice Brandon Taylor would be a better fit to fill that role in case Weddle were to go down.
Players to Watch
Malcom Floyd (WR)
With no Vincent Jackson to fill the spotlight anymore, Malcom Floyd finally gets to display his talents in a primary receiver role. Like Jackson, Floyd is another big receiver who excels in one-on-one situations, and his vertical leap is up there with the likes of Detroit Lions superstar Calvin Johnson. Floyd's numbers have been right behind Jackson's in past seasons, and it wouldn't come as a shock to see Floyd have quite the coming-out party.
Robert Meachem (WR)
As a former member of the New Orleans Saints, Robert Meachem comes to the Chargers with a pretty impressive reputation. Playing with Drew Brees has really developed Meachem's game, but he was a forgotten asset in New Orleans' system last season due to the superb play of guys like Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles and Lance Moore. Watching Meachem mesh with the Chargers will be very interesting because he'll be depended upon more for production.
Eddie Royal (WR)
Eddie Royal was heavily underutilized with the Denver Broncos last season. Tim Tebow's run-and-gun style wasn't a receiver's fantasy, but Philip Rivers is the complete opposite. Being the smaller, quicker receiver that he is, Royal will be able to come in and give the Chargers some much needed help in the slot.
Le'Ron McClain (FB)
Le'Ron McClain provides the Chargers with a veteran attitude in the backfield, but his strengths as a run-blocker is what the Chargers will covet most. In turn, McClain's presence will factor into how well Ryan Mathews fares in the ground game.
Vincent Brown (WR)
In his rookie season, Vincent Brown showed glimpses of a potential draft-day steal. The third-round draft pick caught 19 balls for a total of 329 yards, including a five-reception game in a loss to the Oakland Raiders and a four-reception game in a loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Antwan Barnes (LB)
A surprise leader in team sacks last season, sixth-year linebacker Antwan Barnes broke onto the scene with a career-high 11 sacks in San Diego's lackluster defense. Even with so many acquisitions at the linebacker position, Barnes should get his fair share of opportunities to bring down opposing quarterbacks.
Jarret Johnson (LB)
A 10-year veteran and former longtime member of the Baltimore Ravens, Jarret Johnson brings a wealth of experience to the linebacker position along with a nose for running backs in the run defense.
Melvin Ingram (LB)
A lot will be expected from this year's first-round draft pick out of South Carolina, but Melvin Ingram's true calling will be in the pass rush. San Diego's pass rush has been nonexistent thus far, and the whole purpose of drafting Ingram was to fix that problem.
Brandon Taylor (S)
Fellow rookie Brandon Taylor will have to win a position battle with Atari Bigby for the strong safety position, but he is a must-watch in the preseason regardless. Taylor has all the makings to be the Chargers' next great safety.
Ronnie Brown (RB)
Ryan Mathews will be the feature back in 2012, but the signing of Ronnie Brown raises a lot of questions. First of all, will he even be able to contribute anything to San Diego's offense? Last season, Brown was a non-factor with the Philadelphia Eagles. Secondly, does Brown's signing mean anything to Mathews' workload?
Best Depth Chart Battles
Strong Safety: Brandon Taylor vs. Atari Bigby
Last season, the Chargers were hoping ex-Indianapolis Colts veteran Bob Sanders could rekindle old flames at the strong safety position that once made him one of the league's most feared defenders. However, yet another injury cut his season short last September, leaving the position open for Steve Gregory. After ranking fourth on the team in tackles with 67, Gregory became a free agent and signed with the New England Patriots.
The Chargers signed former Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers safety Atari Bigby in the offseason, and the team also drafted rookie Brandon Taylor in the third round out of LSU. Bigby certainly has the edge in experience, and he's been getting reps with the first team in mini camp. But, Taylor played on one of the nation's top defenses last year, and he played particularly well individually.
Left Guard: Rex Hadnot vs. Tyronne Green
Kris Dielman's retirement last February left the Chargers with a big hole to fill at left guard. Aside from his leadership qualities, Dielman was also considered one of the top guards in football. Suitors for the position include nine-year veteran Rex Hadnot and fourth-year man Tyronne Green.
Reports indicate that Green and the left side of the offensive line have gelled well so far, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Hadnot, who was signed over from the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason, has experience playing the position, and his experience isn't something to overlook.
Full Chargers' Training Camp and Preseason Schedule
Training camp schedule courtesy of San Diego Chargers official site.
- Sat. 7/28 Practice 3:45-6:00 p.m.
- Sun. 7/29 Practice 10:45-1:00 p.m.
- Tues. 7/31 Practice 3:45-6:00 p.m.
- Wed. 8/1 Practice 7:15-9:30 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium
- Thurs. 8/2 Practice 3:45-6:00 p.m.
- Fri. 8/3 Practice 3:45-6:00 p.m.
- Mon. 8/6 Practice 3:45-6:00 p.m.
- Sat. 8/11 Practice 3:45-6:00 p.m.
- Sun. 8/12 Practice 3:45-6:00 p.m
Chargers' Training Camp Info
Location: 4020 Murphy Canyon Road, San Diego, CA
Training Camp Since: 2005
For directions, please click here.
Full Chargers' Camp Roster
Chargers' 2012 Rookie Class
Melvin Ingram (LB)
As San Diego's top pick in the draft, linebacker Melvin Ingram will be expected to come in and produce early. The 6'2", 265-pound rookie will most surely be used on third down and in pass-rushing scenarios. Ingram is a shoo-in to make the 53-man roster at the end of camp.
Kendall Reyes (DL)
A former captain at Connecticut, Kendall Reyes provides San Diego's defensive line with some much needed depth. Because of his size, Reyes is a perfect match to fit in a 3-4 scheme, and he should get his work on the edge and inside. Reyes should have no problem making the squad as well.
Brandon Taylor (S)
Not only is former LSU standout Brandon Taylor a lock to make this team, but he's also in the running to win a starting job sometime this season. He and veteran Atari Bigby will be vying for the strong safety position alongside Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle. When he does get his chance, Taylor will be ready to go. As a starter in a nationally ranked defense the last three years, Taylor may be more ready than any of San Diego's rookies.
Ladarius Green (TE)
Think of Ladarius Green as a work in progress for right now. The rookie tight end out of Louisiana-Lafayette is extremely gifted in terms of his athleticism and catching, but his blocking skills need a lot of work to be considered decent at the NFL level. The Chargers will more than likely give Green a roster, but if Green does get a chance at some playing time this season, it will probably come in blowout wins or losses.
Johnnie Troutman (OL)
Penn State guard Johnnie Troutman tore his pectoral muscle just two weeks before the draft, and the likely result for the injured rookie is a wait on the physically-unable-to-perform list for a good chunk of the season. However, the Chargers' coaching staff believe Troutman is worth the wait.
In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, offensive line coach Hal Hunter said of Troutman, "Come October, we're going to get a guy who probably should have been drafted a lot earlier if he'd been healthy."
David Molk (OL)
David Molk, the 2011 Rimington Trophy winner, was considered one of the top centers in college football, yet his draft stock was unusually low. Veteran center Nick Hardwick has already started taking the young rookie under his wing. Molk may see a lot of bench next season, but his chances are good at making this team.
Edwin Baker (RB)
Selecting Michigan State running back Edwin Baker was a bit of a head-scratcher for the Chargers. Baker is a talented back, but there were some higher quality backs available in some of the earlier rounds. Baker will have a very difficult time making the roster with competition from Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley as potential alternates.
Chargers' 2012 Undrafted Free Agents
Jarrett Lee (QB)
Former LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee may impress coaches at training camp, but a roster spot for him is doubtful when the season opens. Lee will be competing with Charlie Whitehurst, who has familiarity in the Chargers system.
Taylor Embree (WR)
A product of UCLA, wide receiver Taylor Embree finished his senior season with 20 catches—third most on the team. He also finished his career as the eighth-ranked player in UCLA history in receptions with 137. Embree's chances of making the team are slim, but he has the best chance of all the undrafted rookies at landing a roster spot.
Phillip Payne (WR)
Former UNLV receiver Phillip Payne became the school's all-time leader in receiving touchdowns last season when he hauled in his 26th touchdown catch against Colorado State. Like Embree, Payne will be fighting an uphill battle to make the team, but all the talent is there.
Michael Hayes (RB)
After finishing his career at Houston, running back Michael Hayes will attempt to crack San Diego's running back committee. The only problem is that Hayes will have too many competitors in his way to make the team.
DeAndre Presley (CB)
DeAndre Presley spent the majority of his college career playing quarterback for Appalachian State, but he's so athletic, that scouts projected him as a potential wide receiver or defensive back. On the Chargers' official roster, Presley is listed as a defensive back, but he was relegated to kick returns for the most part in mini camp and OTAs. Presley could compete for the return job, but he has veteran competition to worry about.
Jason Barnes (WR)
Jason Barnes posted average numbers during his career at South Carolina, and average won't be good enough to be out the other more qualified receivers in the mix to make the team.
Josh Linam (ILB)
Josh Linam started 11 games for UCF at middle linebacker, recording 66 tackles, two sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. With Donald Butler and Takeo Spikes manning the middle of San Diego's defense, Linam may have a shot at a reserve spot.
Logan Harrell (DT)
Starting all 13 games for Fresno State, defensive tackle Logan Harrell finished his senior season with 71 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and six sacks. If he really performs well in training camp, Harrell could join a rotation with Antonio Garay and Cam Thomas, but it's no guarantee.
Eddie Brown (DT)
Former Texas A&M nose tackle Eddie Brown finished his 2011 season with 29 tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks. Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot more than that to guarantee a spot on San Diego's defensive line.
Sean Cattouse (S)
Sean Cattouse finished his college career with 75 tackles and four tackles for loss with the Golden Bears. A reserve spot could be a realistic goal considering how thin Chargers are at safety after their starters.
Mike Harris (OL)
Mike Harris is a huge offensive tackle at 6'5", 326 pounds out of UCLA. But, Harris will need more than just size to get his name on the roster.
Mohamed Marah (FB)
Mohamed Marah is an athletic fullback with experience at linebacker and defensive end. However, the San Jose State Spartan will have no chance at making the team with Le'Ron McClain and Jacob Hester handling the fullback duties. Marah would have to find a home at another position if he's interested in making the team.
Nick Guess (LS)
Tennessee alum Nick Guess will attempt to beat out three-year man Mike Windt for the job of long snapper.
Paul Cox (WR)
A product of Mississippi Valley State, wide receiver Paul Cox finished last season with 36 receptions for 619 yards and three touchdowns. Like many of the receivers, Cox will be fighting for limited space on the Chargers roster.
Greg Gatson (DB)
In his career at Arkansas, cornerback Greg Gatson appeared in 21 games, recording 25 tackles and just one interception. From his stats alone, Gatson is a long shot to make the team.
Michael Willie (WR)
In two seasons at Arizona State, wide receiver Michael Willie caught 72 balls for a total of 897 yards and two touchdowns. Limited in experience, Willie joins the rest of the receivers trying to get some attention for a roster spot.
Chargers' 2012 Free Agency and Trade Additions
Robert Meachem (WR)
San Diego's marquee free agent came in the form of ex-New Orleans Saints receiver Robert Meachem. The 27-year-old was signed to lessen the blow of losing Vincent Jackson, who signed his own free-agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meachem will likely be San Diego's No. 2 in the receiving game, helping to draw attention away from primary receiver Malcom Floyd.
Eddie Royal (WR)
Another improvement to the receiving core, Eddie Royal joins the Chargers after playing four seasons with the rival Denver Broncos. Royal will get his hands on the ball a lot more with the Chargers after nabbing a career-low 19 receptions last season. Expect the 5'10" speedster to line up in the slot on many occasions.
Ronnie Brown (RB)
Ronnie Brown's career has taken a nosedive after leaving the Miami Dolphins. Last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Brown finished 136 yards and a touchdown to his name. In San Diego, the 30-year-old will attempt become relevant again in a secondary role. Ryan Mathews will command a majority of San Diego's carries in the ground game, but Brown will likely help aid in keeping Mathews fresh.
Le'Ron McClain (FB)
Sixth-year man Le'Ron McClain will be a focal point in the rushing attack, providing Ryan Mathews with some much needed run-blocking. The Chargers haven't had a true fullback since Lorenzo Neal, and McClain has all the makings to emulate that role. Expect to see McClain opening up holes for Mathews while getting some work of his own in the ground game.
Jarret Johnson (OLB)
Veteran linebacker Jarret Johnson gives the Chargers a stout defender against the run, and his nine-year run with the Baltimore Ravens should come in handy as the defense looks to improve. Johnson should be on the field a lot as a staple of San Diego's 3-4 defense.
Atari Bigby (S)
The signing of Atari Bigby doesn't look that important on paper, but the former Seattle Seahawks safety could easily be a starter on San Diego's defense at the start of the season. He and rookie Brandon Taylor will compete for the starting job in training camp, and Bigby's experience could be the deciding factor at the end of the day.
Roscoe Parrish (WR)
Eight-year veteran Roscoe Parrish is coming off an injury-riddled season in 2011, and that could prevent any chance of a roster spot with the Chargers in 2012. Parrish did get off to a hot start with the Buffalo Bills before he was injured, so he's capable of contributing on offense and in the return game if he's healthy.
Charlie Whitehurst (QB)
With Billy Volek gone, seventh-year quarterback Charlie Whitehurst assumes the role of backup to Philip Rivers. Whitehurst did not succeed in securing a starting job with the Seattle Seahawks last season, but he is a welcomed addition to the Chargers.
Michael Spurlock (WR)
Michael Spurlock's signing wasn't directed toward shoring up the receiving game but rather the return game. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010, Spurlock racked up 1,129 yards in kick returns with a 25.7-yard average. Spurlock's return skills are impressive, but they don't make him a lock to make the final 53-man roster.
Demorrio Williams (ILB)
Longtime Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Demorrio Williams dazzled in 2009 when he recorded 117 tackles, but his numbers have dramatically decreased in the two years after that. The nine-year veteran's experience would be greatly appreciated on San Diego's defense, but his numbers were so bad that he may not command a roster spot before the season starts.
Rex Hadnot (OG/C)
After starting 16 games at left guard for the Arizona Cardinals last season, Rex Hadnot comes to San Diego as a potential challenger for Kris Dielman's old position. Tyronne Green will likely fill the hole at left guard, but Hadnot is a great insurance policy with veteran experience in case Green can't get the job done.
Dante Rosario (TE)
Dante Rosario's better seasons occurred with the Carolina Panthers from 2007-2010, but he was released from both the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos his last two years. Unless Rosario can find some of that magic he had in Carolina, the Chargers could end up being the third team to cut him.
Game-By-Game Preseason Analysis and Predictions
Green Bay Packers at San Diego Chargers (Aug. 9 at 5 p.m. PT)
The Chargers will open the preseason against the NFC powerhouse Green Bay Packers—the first of four NFC matchups. As this is merely an exhibition, don't expect to see starters lighting up the field for very long. Aaron Rodgers and Co. will likely come in for a scoring drive or two before heading to the bench, and the same should go for Philip Rivers and the Bolts.
Key Matchup: SD offensive line vs. GB front seven
This Chargers offensive line will get a brief first test against an aggressive front seven led by the likes of Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji and A.J. Hawk.
Prediction: Based on the strength of San Diego's reserves, a win should be forthcoming.
Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers (Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. PT)
The Dallas Cowboys will visit San Diego on a Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium before the Chargers hit the road for their remaining preseason games. At the halfway point of the preseason, starters should only see the field for about a quarter, maybe less.
Key Matchup: SD pass rush vs. Tony Romo
The Cowboys' offensive line hasn't had a successful track record protecting their quarterback as of late, and the Chargers will have their chance to pressure a vulnerable Tony Romo in the pocket. This is a perfect time to unleash San Diego's renovated pass rush.
Prediction: A win will be tough to come by considering Kyle Orton will get the majority of Dallas' snaps.
San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings (Aug. 24 at 5 p.m. PT)
The Chargers will travel to Mall of America Field for a Friday night matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Reserves should be getting more playing time in these final two games as cuts are made.
Key Matchup: MIN offense vs. SD defense
The Vikings are obviously in a rebuilding stage with their offense, so the Chargers should be able to take advantage of their opponent's struggles. Christian Ponder is untested in just his second year, and Adrian Peterson probably won't see the field in this one, as he's coming off a major injury from last season.
Prediction: The Chargers shouldn't have trouble keeping the Vikings offense under control in this one, but conquering Minnesota's defense is a whole other task. The Chargers should be able to get the job done.
San Diego Chargers at San Francisco 49ers (Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. PT)
In the final game of the preseason, the Chargers will face their Bay Area neighbors in the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. Being that it's the last game before the start of the season, expect reserves to play the majority of this game as coaches will make final evaluations.
Key Matchup: SD run defense vs. SF run game
The 49ers are sporting a trio of quality running backs in Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James. The matchup of the night will come from watching how the Chargers' run defense fares against the 49ers' rushing attack.
Prediction: The 49ers may be lacking in depth at quarterback, but there is a bevvy of talented backs on their roster. The Chargers may get run over in this one.
Projecting the Final 53-Man Roster
Rivers, Philip (starter)
Mathews, Ryan (starter)
McClain, Le'Ron (starter)
Floyd, Malcom (starter)
Meachem, Robert (starter)
Clary, Jeromey (starter)
Gaither, Jared (starter)
Green, Tyronne (starter)
Vasquez, Louis (starter)
Hardwick, Nick (starter)
Liuget, Corey (starter)
Martin, Vaughn (starter)
Garay, Antonio (starter)
Johnson, Jarret (starter)
Phillips, Shaun (starter)
Butler, Donald (starter)
Spikes, Takeo (starter)
Cason, Antoine (starter)
Jammer, Quentin (starter)
Bigby, Atari (starter)
Weddle, Eric (starter)