The Chargers kick off the preseason Saturday at home against the Chicago Bears. The Chargers coaching staff and front office will have their eyes on many things during the game, here's a list of some of the most important things they will be looking for.
Marcus McNeal is still holding out. So who will take his spot? The versatile Brandyn Dombrowski, that's who. Dombrowski has been getting ready to play left tackle all offseason because the Chargers were rightfully concerned that McNeal would hold out. Dombrowski's first test will be Saturday against one of the best in the NFL, Julius Peppers. Peppers will be looking to prove himself to his new team, and Dombrowski will be looking to show everyone that he can handle one of the most important posistions on the field.
Jay Cutler's first season in Chicago was shaky. Offensive guru Mike Martz has been brought in to Chicago to give the passing game a make over. I will be interesting to see if Martz's risky style of offense meshes with Cutler's Farve-like decision making. Also this will be the first time over a year that Cutler will play the Chargers, Cutler and the Chargers have a mutual hatred for each other.
The Bear's first chance to show off their new look offense will be against a Chargers secondary that will have something to prove. They will be without Antonio Cromartie, and Kevin Ellison. Antione Cason will get a chance to prove that he was worth a first round selection, and Steven Gregory and rookie Darrell Stuckey will be battling for the starting spot at strong safety. The pass heavy Martz offense should give the Chargers all they can handle.
The Chargers will replace LaDainan Tomlinson with Ryan Mathews. The rookie will get his first taste of the NFL this Saturday. The rest of the backfield is filled with question marks. How many carries will Darren Sproles get? Who will be the third runningback, Marcus Mason? Curtis Brinkley? Shaunbrey McNeal? Sproles should get some chances to get more carries, and all three of the others should get carries late in the game and start their missions to make the active roster.
Also, Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester will challenge each other for the starting full back spot, and should even see some time on the field together.
No one knows when Vincent Jackson will be back. His absence will give everyone a chance to move up on the depth chart. The one, and two receivers will be Malcom Floyd, and Leganue Nanee. The three, four, and five spots are up for grabs. Josh Reed, Buster Davis, Gary Banks, Seyi Ajurotutu, and few other undrafted rookies will try to fill those holes. Madden 11 gives the nod to Buster Davis, Josh Reed, and Seyi Ajurotutu, but by no means does that mean that those three will be the winners of the final three spots.
The Chargers' strength of their defense for the past few years has been their front seven. A big part of that was Jamal Williams. Last year he was injured, and this year he is playing for the Broncos. The Chargers will need to fill that spot with someone. Olin Kreutz is one of the best centers in the NFL, and he will be licking his chops on the Bears line of scrimmage in anticipation of the fresh meat the Chargers are going to throw his way. Ogemdi Nwagnuo, Ian Scott, Vaughn Martin, and rookie Cam Thomas will all get their shot at some point Saturday to prove that they belong in the starting lineup. Even Ryon Bingham, who usually plays defensive end, should take a few snaps at tackle.