San Diego Chargers Rookie Training Camp Progress Reports
It hasn't taken long for the rookies at Chargers Park to have an effect on training camp.
With the preseason in sight and roster spots up for grabs, first-year players have turned up the pace in practice, hoping to catch the eye of coaches in an attempt to earn more playing time for Thursday night's preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Every rep matters for wide-eyed rookies who are looking to make their first roster, and camp can end rather quickly if they're lost in the mix of competitors vying for a job.
Let's take a look at the progress of San Diego's high-profile rookies in camp so far.
Nearly five months removed from surgery to repair a posterior labrum tear, San Diego's first-round draft pick has now donned a red jersey for four straight practices and was limited to mental reps during OTAs.
Jason Verrett in red jersey fourth practice in a row. #Chargers— Tom Krasovic (@UTkrasovic) August 5, 2014
As for this week's preseason opener against the Cowboys, odds are Verrett will play the role of spectator on Thursday night as he continues his recovery.
The good news, however, is that Verrett's progress doesn't appear to be suffering from the preventative measures taken in camp. The same aggressive play he utilized at TCU has been on full display at Chargers Park and should bring a sense of relief to nervous fans.
In Verrett's case, patience is a virtue, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com so perfectly summed it up. The rookie's main concern right now is getting healthy for the team's regular-season opener against the Cardinals on September 8.
Attaochu, the 50th pick overall in last May's draft, has been one of the more impressive young players in camp, according to ESPN.com's Williams.
Feeding off the wisdom of veteran linebackers Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson has been the perfect learning experience for the 21-year-old as he prepares for his first season in the pros. Attaochu's high motor earned praise from the team's scouting department during evaluations, and teammates have taken notice of his rare burst.
Freeney on rookie Jerry Attaochu “He's a ball of energy. Reminds me of myself when I came up...the quickness, the energy...the raw speed."— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) July 28, 2014
To his credit, Attaochu was one of the most explosive pass-rushers in the nation last season and wound up becoming Georgia Tech's all-time leader in sacks with 31.5. Eager to revamp a complacent pass rush from a year ago, the Chargers should find comfort in hearing of Attaochu's steady progress.
An ailing Jeromey Clary has allowed Watt to compete for first-team reps at right guard sooner rather than later, but a recent mishap on the practice field on Tuesday could spell trouble for the third-rounder out of Notre Dame.
Watt exited practice early on Tuesday with an undisclosed injury, according to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, and he may be in danger of missing Thursday's preseason matchup against the Cowboys. In last week's posting of the depth chart, Watt was the listed starter at right guard, but if he's unable to go, his replacement will likely be Johnnie Troutman.
Prior to Tuesday's exit, Watt had been splitting first-team reps with Troutman at right guard and spent a portion of practices working at center and left guard. Watt's stock was clearly on the rise, but we'll have to wait and see how serious the injury is and whether it will end up delaying his progress.
A determined Sean Lissemore has managed to solidify himself as the starter at defensive tackle, and he has the full support of defensive coordinator John Pagano.
Carrethers, meanwhile, is stuck near the bottom of the barrel with second-year man Kwame Geathers ahead of him on the depth chart. The buzz back in the spring was that Carrethers was still busy learning the playbook, which may have contributed to his current standing on the totem pole.
Be that as it may, Pagano still intends to use his fifth-round draft choice in some fashion this season. Carrethers may not be a starter, but that won't prevent him from having an impact as a rotational player on the defensive line.
At Arizona State, Grice was naturally used to carrying the load on offense, but his first year with the Chargers will require plenty of patience.
The sixth-round draft choice is buried beneath a host of running backs on the depth chart, including the three-headed monster of Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown. Even a superb showing in camp would hardly be enough to crack that starting rotation, but the consensus is that Grice will carve out a spot on the final roster because of the versatility he demonstrated in college.
There hasn't been much to report on Grice's progress in camp aside from the small tidbits seen from the sidelines.
If the highlight catches in camp are any indication of what Reese is capable of on Sundays, then the Chargers may have found another young receiver to complement last year's breakout star in Keenan Allen.
The Baylor product nicknamed "Sweet Feet" has been putting on a show at Chargers Park with some remarkable grabs down the field, but his work on special teams has not gone as smoothly. Repeated drops on kick returns have plagued Reese throughout camp, which may force coaches to reconsider his value as a returner.
WR Tevin Reese drops another kickoff return. That's two this practice. Repeating camp problem from Chargers' speedy 7th-round pick.— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) August 5, 2014
As it stands right now, Reese is likely on the bubble of making the final roster, but he's definitely off to a good start with the way he's been making plays in practice.
He then ventured to the CFL where he played two seasons and won a Grey Cup in 2012. Still looking to play his first rookie season in the NFL, Inman came on with the Chargers in January, while the team was still basking in a postseason win over the Bengals. He is finally getting a second chance at making an NFL roster.
So far, Inman has looked relatively good in camp and is making a strong case to be included in this season's receiving corps. If the last spot comes down to Reese or Inman, it's going to be a difficult decision for the coaching staff.
Davis, one of 17 undrafted free agents the Chargers brought in following the draft, has been eager to prove there's more in his repertoire than game-winning returns.
Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego has monitored Davis' progress in camp and believes the former Iron Bowl hero is an underdog worth rooting for. There have been flashes here and there with Davis but not nearly enough to make him a favorite for a spot with the final 53.
Chris Davis ran down speedy Tevin Reese yesterday, just jammed Reese at start of route & intercepted ball in front of him. Love this kid.— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) July 26, 2014
The practice squad may be a more realistic scenario for Davis, but he continues to grind away in camp, putting his best foot forward.