The 4 Biggest Storylines Heading into San Diego Chargers' Training Camp
With less than a week before training camp begins, the Chargers have made recent news. From statements about Ryan Mathews to the confidence displayed in Philip Rivers, Mike McCoy is gaining the trust of the Bolts one by one.
As of now, the only thing predicted as a winner in San Diego are their 1960 throwback jerseys.
Even with the Chargers, there is plenty to talk about. It's time to gear up for the 2013 season. Training camp will answer many questions and broaden multiple storylines. It's going to be a year of surprises.
Let's look at five of the biggest stories heading into the Chargers' training camp.
Does Ryan Mathews Have a "Chip" on His Shoulder?
Let's start off and say that if Ryan Mathews doesn't have a chip on his shoulder for the upcoming year, he should.
The Fresno State alum is entering his fourth season and is only 25 years old, yet he is facing the biggest year of his career. Talent is no issue with Ryan Mathews. He has incredible speed and elusiveness which is why the Chargers traded up for him in 2010. The biggest concern with Mathews is health. He has missed a total of ten games in three years. Statistically, that means Mathews has been unavailable for about 21% of the games in his career. For any coach, teammate, general manager or fan, Ryan Mathews has upset most.
The good news is that Mike McCoy is ready to give Ryan Mathews a shot. Even after the acquisition of Danny Woodhead and re-signing of Ronnie Brown, McCoy confirmed that Mathews is still "the guy." It's no surprise that Mathews is and will be the starter this season.
Other than the injury issues, let's give this guy a break. His offensive line is one of, if not the worst in the entire league. D.J. Fluker will help out immensely, but Mathews still needs to get better. Last season, Ryan Mathews entered the preseason in the best shape of his life. Many were predicting a breakout season from him until he broke his collarbone.
Let's just hope he gets back to that form for this season.
Will Manti Te'o Continue to Impress?
No jokes are being made. No hazing is going on. All Manti Te'o is doing is playing football and he's proving why he was a Heisman favorite last year. Earlier this summer, Te'o had teammates impressed with his football IQ and work ethic.
Many scouts and analysts doubted Te'o and probably still do. They say he has a low ceiling and will reach it and then stop improving. The Chargers don't think so. Te'o will be considered a huge steal in the 2013 NFL Draft a few years from now.
Once training camp begins, will the madness return for Manti Te'o? It's hard to say, but one thing's for sure, it won't get in the way of his play. Te'o is predicted to start at inside linebacker alongside Donald Butler, so he has a lot to learn in little time.
Which Players Are Facing Make or Break Seasons?
It's going to be a meaningful season for a few players in San Diego. Obviously, as mentioned in a previous slide, Ryan Mathews is facing a make or break season, but are there any other players with it all on the line?
One that comes to mind is Larry English. It seems like English faces a make or break season every single year and never impresses anyone. With Melvin Ingram out with a torn ACL, English is given another opportunity to shine. If he doesn't this year, he will be out of San Diego in a heartbeat.
Another player that is facing a big season is Philip Rivers. If his offensive line can protect him at an average or above average level, Rivers will have no excuses for bad play. He'll need to make smarter decisions to prove he is still an elite quarterback.
Are the Chargers Being Overlooked?
To answer my question, absolutely.
For a team that has thrived in the AFC West for the past decade, 2013 could be a long year for the Chargers. The key word there is could. While everyone is already writing San Diego off as a contender, I have yet to jump on that bandwagon.
Philip Rivers, with a stronger offensive line, can easily return to 2010 form. Ryan Mathews should step it up and the receiving corps is highly underrated. With guys like Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates, Rivers will have talented targets to throw to. The offense looks good on paper, so we'll have to just wait and see if they produce.
The defense looks even better. John Pagano has done an incredible job over the past few seasons. Now that he's the defensive coordinator, expect a more energy filled defense like last year's. Watch out for Corey Liuget, Donald Butler and Kendall Reyes this season. All three players have been progressing extremely fast.
The biggest upside for the San Diego Chargers is the head coaching position. Not necessarily Mike McCoy being the coach, but the fact that Norv Turner isn't. The sky is now the limit for the Chargers.