There were a lot of storylines for the Chargers' opening preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks this past Saturday: Shawne Merriman's return from knee surgery, LaDainian Tomlinson's first preseason action in years and if that wasn't enough the game was blacked out.
All this hullabaloo, which is all it is for the most part, got the Chargers some coverage nationally and gave the local media lots to talk about.
I wasn't able to watch the blackout replay late Saturday night because I was camping in the San Bernadino Mts. at the South Fork campground on Hwy 38. Really great place to camp and fish. Cold at night too.
So I had to read all about it to find out what actually happened in the 20-14 loss. From what I could tell, looking over the box score and reading the recaps, is that the Chargers know they must get off to a fast start and be ready for some serious early season tests.
One also gets the sense that this is a more confident team with nothing to prove in the preseason. The ho-hum first-team offense is a good example. Keep it close to the vest, get your reps, stay healthy and shut it down.
They may be the only members of last seasons AFC final four not to win their preseason opener but I don't think it's weighing on their minds much. This Chargers team plans on being ready when it matters.
Here's a look at what some of the Chargers coverage around the nation:
Peter King of SI.com attended the game and had some kind words for the Chargers in his much loved Monday Morning Quarterback column. His rant about the service at San Diego's downtown Westin is priceless.
"Gut feeling: I believe in the defense, which is totally sold on coordinator Ron Rivera's schemes and the teaching of the Rivera staff. If Philip Rivers gets protected well, and the Tomlinson/Darren Sproles/Jacob Hester (the big back that hurts you when he hits you) combo platter stays mostly healthy, no team will come within four games of the Chargers in the AFC West."
Kevin Acee's write-up in the Union Tribune was even more optimistic. That's to be expected from the local guy, but he's still a bit wary of getting carried away.
"At this point, with most starters out shortly after the second quarter began, there is one thing paramount for the Chargers: A team that stumbled out to a .500 record in 2008, with many of it's key players injured from the start of the season and then throughout, is healthy this August. Still."
ESPN had Bill Williamson blog about the game and he took notice of two players who should be big parts of the Chargers this year:
"Injury prone 2007 top pick, receiver Buster Davis, had a nice game. He had three catches for 64 yards. Davis in very talented. If he can stay healthy, he will give San Diego a big boost.
Free-agent pickup Kevin Burnett showed he may be a spark plug. The inside linebacker had a team high six tackles."
Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press wrote about LT's return and how the back feels the work is good for him to get in rhythm early on.
"Tomlinson, the NFL's MVP in 2006, hurt his right big toe in last year's opener. He injured his groin in the regular-season finale, was limited in a wild-card playoff win against Indianapolis and didn't play in a divisional-round loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh. It was the first time he missed a game due to injury."
*Other notes: It looks like the depth at defensive end will now be tested with Ryon Bingham going down this week with torn triceps. Good thing Jacques Cesaire is back at practice. Vaughn Martin will now be getting even more snaps at end.
*Chargers fans will be able to watch their team live this Saturday night when the Bolts visit the Arizona Cardinals. I expect a little more out of the first team offense this time out. Rookies Larry English and Louis Vasquez are expected to get their first game action as well.
*Looks like Kevin Burnett is doing some good things. Reports are that with Stephen Cooper back at practice Burnett is getting reps at Cooper's "Mo" inside linebacker spot. It's got to be for familiarity purposes for packages Burnett is in and Cooper isn't, but it's nice to see the new guy coming along so nicely.