Updating San Diego Chargers' Key Position Battles Halfway Through Training Camp

Marcelo VillaCorrespondent IIAugust 12, 2013

Updating San Diego Chargers' Key Position Battles Halfway Through Training Camp

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    With one preseason game in the books, the San Diego Chargers are already nearing the halfway mark of training camp, as are most NFL teams by now.

    When camp got underway just a few short weeks ago, I touched on some key position battles the team would be having early on. Since then, things haven't changed all that much, but there have been some minor tweaks here and there.

    Preseason outings are usually never enough to go on when making individual judgements, but that didn't stop a few players from helping their cause last Thursday.

    The following is an update on key position battles during Chargers' training camp.

Strong Safety

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    Candidates: Marcus Gilchrist, Darrell Stuckey, Brandon Taylor, Jahleel Addae

    Analysis: When we last visited this position battle, Brandon Taylor was a non-factor as he continued to rehab a major knee injury dating back to last season, but that's all in the past now that he's been activated from the PUP list.

    Another major difference in this battle has been the most recent absence of Marcus Gilchrist from practice and last Thursday's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks

    Gilchrist was experiencing some tightness in his hamstring but eventually returned to practice, per Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego.

    Darrell Stuckey and undrafted rookie Jahleel Addae saw the most playing time against Seattle, but there was an equal balance of good and bad in the loss. 

    According to the team's official depth chart, Gilchrist and Stuckey remain the top two candidates at the position, but as the preseason wears on, we'll see more of all the candidates vying for this spot.

Backup Quarterback

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    Candidates: Charlie Whitehurst, Brad Sorensen

    Analysis: When Philip Rivers exited last Thursday's game after a successful first drive with the offensive starters, things got very ugly for veteran backup Charlie Whitehurst. 

    The eighth-year quarterback threw two picks and was sacked three times during his preseason shift under center.

    As tough as it was to look at, San Diego head coach Mike McCoy didn't have the same opinion as most critics. In fact, McCoy thought his quarterback didn't do a bad job, according to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego.

    The thing that really made Whitehurst look bad was how well his counterpart performed. Rookie quarterback Brad Sorensen completed seven of his 10 passes, threw for 84 yards and had the team's only touchdown on his way to a 128.8 passer rating.

    Now it's a little early to jump to conclusions, but if Sorensen continues to play better than the competition, then he may be a name to add to the team's bubble watch.

No. 1 Wide Receiver

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    Candidates: Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Keenan Allen

    Analysis: With Danario Alexander likely done for the year with a torn ACL, the Chargers will once again start the season without a true No. 1 receiver.

    Malcom Floyd has been a reliable target for Philip Rivers over the years, but he lacks that home run hitter ability that a No. 1 receiver should have. 

    San Diego will now look to Floyd and younger options Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen. 

    Brown missed Thursday's game with a sore hamstring and is expected to return in the team's next contest against Chicago. Allen, meanwhile, got ample playing time against the Seahawks and ended his night with two catches for 13 yards.

    This position battle couldn't be any more wide open for all three candidates, and experience won't be a factor. The Chargers will sacrifice giving the top receiver slot to Floyd if Brown or Allen can flash playmaking ability.

Reserve Wide Receivers

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    Candidates: Richard Goodman, Dan DePalma, Mike Willie, Deon Butler, Luke Tasker

    Analysis: When the news broke of Danario Alexander's injury, the receiver depth got noticeably thinner for San Diego. All hope of a passing offense will be left up to Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal.

    Don't even bring up Robert Meachem's name—that boat sunk a long time ago, and U-T San Diego's Kevin Acee won't hesitate to let you know.

    The odds of a fifth receiver making the final cut are looking pretty good right now, but deciding who to keep will be no easy task. My instincts tell me that if anyone is going to make it, then Richard Goodman could very well be the guy mostly because of his kick-return skills.

    But, if the Chargers are looking for a receiving threat, then they'll have to choose from a group of practice-squad regulars. Dan DePalma has had quite the camp thus far, per Kevin Acee, and he ended up being San Diego's top receiver in Thursday's loss to Seattle with five catches for 43 yards.

Left Tackle

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    Candidates: King Dunlap, Max Starks

    Analysis: King Dunlap and Max Starks have gone back and forth in their position battle for the starting left tackle spot. Dunlap had a lead early on in camp but was slowed down by a hip injury. Since then, the two have rotated during practice and in Thursday's loss to Seattle.

    Michael Gehlken tweeted that Dunlap did everything right in last Thursday's game to preserve his slight edge over Starks, but he had good things to say about the veteran as well.

    This one will be dragged out till the start of Week 1 and should be closely watched in the coming preseason games and practices.