Congratulations, football fans! After months of waiting, NFL football is just around the corner. To celebrate the seven days between now and the San Diego Chargers’ first preseason game, I will be putting together a list every day of various points of interest, players to watch, games to mark, and things of that nature.
To kick it all off, here is a list of seven players to watch coming into the season. The Chargers are still holding open practices, but if you can’t make it down to Chargers Park, look out for these guys come Sunday.
1. Malcolm Floyd
Floyd is the lynch pin of this offense now that Vincent Jackson has committed to holding out. He has looked very good in training camp, showing off his great hands, his ability to separate from defenders, and his amazing athleticism.
Floyd could be very exciting to watch this year, but regardless of that, he is a player that people should keep an eye on, because it is up to him to keep the passing game together. After all, Philip Rivers can only use Antonio Gates so many times before defenses start to wise up.
2. Jeremy Williams
Williams has to be one of my favorite rookies on this team. He has made some incredible catches, and seems to always be "the guy." He has a bizarre knack for being in the right place at the right time. He also seems to be a good prospect to back up Darren Sproles on the kick and punt return teams. Williams should easily make the open wide receiver spot, and could possibly rise up to the starting three, depending on the performance of Buster Davis.
3. Ryan Mathews
This one is self explanatory. Mathews was extremely productive at Fresno State and GM AJ Smith clearly feels like he can continue to produce at the professional level. Mathews has looked good so far, showing good breakaway speed and great trucking ability. Expect big things from the former Bulldog.
4. Brandyn Dombrowski
Without Marcus McNeill, left tackle looks like a very uncertain position. Enter Brandyn Dombrowki. Dombrowki stood in at right tackle last year and played pretty well. The Chargers have been hyping this kid up over the offseason, saying that he is more natural at LT, that he is making big strides, so on and so forth.
In any case, it is important to keep your eyes on Brandyn, because it will be up to him to keep some of the best pass rushers in the league from smashing into the backside of Philip Rivers.
5. Antoine Cason
San Diego's secondary is a scary, scary thing. And not in a good way. Of all the defensive backs on the roster right now, only Quentin Jammer and Eric Weddle are truly dependable players. While the hole at safety is big, nothing is more intimidating than missing a solid cornerback. If Cason doesn’t step up and play well this year, receivers can easily take advantage of the Chargers’ secondary.
6. Cam Thomas
The defensive line as a whole needs to step up, but no one feels as much pressure coming into this season as Cam Thomas. Thomas was drafted as the heir apparent to defensive legend Jamal Williams, who departed via free agency this offseason, and he could not have bigger shoes to fill.
Williams was the rock around which the defensive line (and in truth, the front seven) was built for over a decade. Thomas has the build and he seems to be playing well, but his real impact has yet to be seen.
7. Larry English/Jyles Tucker
It’s hard to tell who will eventually earn the roster spot currently left open by Shawne Merriman’s holdout, but either way, the player who fills in for the former sack master needs to step it up. San Diego had a dismal pass rush last season. They really need the boost, and these players can bring it. That has yet to be seen though.
*Originally written for NFLTouchdown.com*