What We've Learned from San Diego's Camp so Far
Technically the Chargers were the first team in the division to open training camp, even though it was only rookies and selected veterans. Now that the veterans have been around for a few practices and enough time has passed, there should be enough practice to learn a few things about the Chargers strengths, weaknesses and challenges going into 2012.
Coming in to camp all eyes were on the secondary, the linebackers, the receivers and the offensive line and while it's too soon to turn a blind eye on these positions, there are new concerns and some of the fears are already fading.
The backup quarterback situation become a focal point when Charlie Whitehurst hurt his knee. Kyle Boller was brought in and retired after a day and the Chargers options are down to a couple of undrafted rookies. Whitehurst should be back, but if Philip Rivers were to go down with an injury the Chargers would really be in trouble.
There are few teams in the NFL that could survive without an elite quarterback like Rivers for long, but it is a veteran like Whitehurst that can bridge a gap for a couple of games. Not having another option opens up a new concern about what the Chargers would do if Rivers was out and Whitehurst wasn't available.
The Chargers have time to figure it out, but everyone in San Diego is hoping it's a problem they never have to deal with.
Jared Gaither missed the entire 2010 season with a back issue and seeing him carted off the practice field with cramps was obviously something Norv Turner did not want to see.
Gaither now has muscle spasms and while the injury doesn't appear to be something the Chargers need to be overly concerned about, the fact that he's been able to practice just once is a concern. The Chargers should take a cautious approach with Gaither and hope these issues are not something that will continue.
With Gaither's history of injury, the Chargers should be prepared for the worst. Failing to prepare for the possibility of losing the starting left tackle is something the Chargers should know well—the team lost Marcus McNeil to injury last season and stumbled until finding Gaither late in the year.
Mario Henderson, who last played for the Raiders in 2010, was the first to get a crack at the left tackle spot with Gaither out. Now the coaching staff is giving undrafted rookie Mike Harris a shot. Harris has struggled playing against the No.1 defense, according to Michael Gehlkin of San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Chargers need Gaither to stay healthy, but his injury brings up an ugly truth: The Chargers have repeated a mistake they made last season. The Chargers loaded up on receivers, running backs and defense in the offseason, but what they really needed was a little depth on the offensive line.
Plenty of Offense
Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
No Mike Tolbert, no Vincent Jackson, no problem.
The Chargers offense should be just fine with the additions of Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle and Le'Ron McClain.
In a way, the Chargers offense is now free to grow without needing to get Jackson involved in the passing game, and it allows Ryan Mathews to get the snaps on third down and in the red zone.
When the free agents are added to the offensive talent the Chargers already have, it's going to be hard not to produce on offense. Not everyone is buying the additions in San Diego, but there are simply too many options for Rivers and Norv Turner not to be successful, even if they have to lean on the players that have been in the offense for a couple of years.
Defense The Difference
Are you buying or selling the optimism in San Diego or have you been burned too many times?
The Chargers did a lot to fix a troubled defense in the offseason. Jarret Johnson and Atari Bigby were signed and should be starters and the Chargers appear to have two rookie gems in Kendall Reyes and Melvin Ingram.
Two veteran cornerbacks and two young cornerbacks provide solid depth, and Eric Weddle is still flying around the defensive backfield.
The offense in San Diego has rarely been the problem—Turner figures out how to exploit defenses with relative ease. The defense and special teams have been the issue for seemingly different reasons every year.
So far, so good for the Chargers as long as all the key players can stay healthy as depth remains the Chargers' greatest foe. All signs in training camp are pointing at a successful year in San Diego, but we've been down this path so many times before it's hard to be a believer.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?