San Diego Chargers: 3 Most Positive Developments of the 2012 Offseason

Mike Walkusky@mwalkuskyContributor IJuly 20, 2012

San Diego Chargers: 3 Most Positive Developments of the 2012 Offseason

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    There is little doubt that this offseason is the most pivotal during Norv Turner's tenure as head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

    Luckily, the Chargers offseason has been full of great news for Turner.

    A.J. Smith has made a number of good moves to improve the personnel on the roster.

    Additionally, many returning players have been working extremely hard during the offseason so that they can help the Chargers reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2009 season.

    Let's take a look at three of the most positive developments for the Chargers thus far.

Ryan Mathews Has Become a Professional

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    During last year's abbreviated offseason, Ryan Mathews was vilified by media and fans alike after failing his conditioning test.

    Mathews has been working extra hard this offseason in an effort to shed his reputation as an aloof, injury-prone player.

    In an interview with Chris & Ben on XTRA SPORTS 1360, Mathews said:

    "You can’t want to be the star running back and come into camp and not be able to do the conditioning test, and that was my main thing is how my fans saw me and my team saw me. I don’t want to feel like that again. I had a great offseason and great OTAs and minicamp, so I'm about to blow it away. It is going to be fun.”

    Mathews' statement in the interview might not be enough to prove that he's ready to take the next step as an NFL player. However, his actions during the offseason should show that he is ready to become a top running back in the NFL.

    According to the Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, Mathews has been performing very difficult workouts while keeping a football held against his body.

    Mathews has been holding a football while working out because of his propensity to fumble. Fans will have to wait and see if Mathews' offseason work will translate to in-game action, but it is nice to see that he is working hard on improving his faults.

The Addition of Melvin Ingram

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    The Chargers struggled at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and they drafted Melvin Ingram in the first round of the draft in an attempt to fix one of their glaring problems.

    The Chargers have to be thanking their lucky stars that Ingram fell to them at No. 18.

    Ingram was viewed by some scouts as the most complete 3-4 OLB prospect in the draft. Obtaining someone with those credentials with the No. 18 pick is fantastic value.

    During minicamp, Ingram impressed his peers and the coaching staff.

    In an article by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union Tribune, Ingram's fellow outside linebackers showered him with praise. Antwan Barnes said he never saw Ingram make the same mistake twice, Shaun Phillips was impressed by Ingram's ability to accept advice, and Jarret Johnson plainly called Ingram a "beast."

    It might be asking a lot to expect Ingram to excel in his rookie season, but he certainly appears to have the talent and football IQ necessary to have a big year.

The Chargers Retained Jared Gaither

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    Jared Gaither started the last five games of the 2011 season after being signed late in the season by the Chargers. Gaither allowed zero sacks and just three pressures in his five starts. 

    It's no surprise that during Gaither's five starts, QB Philip Rivers produced his four best games of the year.

    Rivers threw for 1,413 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions in the last five games of the season as Gaither protected his blindside. 

    The offensive line as a whole performed extremely well after Gaither stepped in as the starter.

    Keeping Gaither on the roster was extremely important—especially since the Chargers cut Marcus McNeill and lost Kris Dielman to retirement.

    With Gaither starting at left tackle for the entire 2012 season, Rivers should be able to pick apart opposing defenses all year en route to an AFC West title.