The San Diego Chargers roster currently consists of a lot of beaming talent that was brought in from free agency and through the recent draft, but there are plenty of guys we’ve had all along that must step up and play hard starting this fall. Expectations are high on a couple of our youthful Chargers players. Let’s take a look at some names that need to earn their stripes.
Ryan Mathews – There’s no doubt about it, Ryan Mathews has plenty of talent. His 2011 campaign of 1,091 rush yards, 4.9 YPC, 455 receiving yards was enough to land him in the pro-bowl. Injuries, fumbling concerns and only one touchdown last season is enough to warrant the criticism he’s had coming his way. We used to hear a lot from him radiating the desire to be the all-around back, but sitting on the sidelines in street clothes isn’t going to get him there. Mathews needs to stay healthy or else a very talented Danny Woodhead will be carrying the rock a lot more.
Cam Thomas – The Nose Tackle is a very important part of the success of a defense and this is Thomas’ chance to shine. After sitting and waiting behind departed Antonio Garay and Aubrayo Franklin for three seasons, Thomas has a chance to clog up the middle and display those flashes of brilliance he has shown minimally in the past. In 2011, Thomas registered four sacks in two starts, impressive for a nose tackle. Young guns such as Kwame Geathers would love a chance at robbing his spot, it’s up to the 330 pound Thomas to prove he’s the man for the job.
Vincent Brown – Standing at 5’-11” Brown plays like he’s 6’-4”. In limited action his rookie season, Brown dragged in 19 catches for 329 yards and a yards per reception of 17.3. He played excitingly well during last pre-season before breaking his ankle at the goal line. There is plenty of depth at wide receiver and Brown will have to do everything he can to hold onto the third string spot and possibly leap frog into the #2 wideout.
Marcus Gilchrist – There are many unknowns about the strong safety and one cornerback spot. In two seasons, Gilchrist has stepped in whenever called upon and now he’s been called to fill in at safety. Last season in three starts Gilchrist had two pass deflections and zero interceptions with 55 tackles. As a rookie, in four starts he had four pass deflections and two interceptions. The potential is there, I believe he hasn’t been given a fair shot. The opportunity is here and now, and Gilchrist has an audition for either starting corner or safety.
Shareece Wright – Wright has never started a game but there have been rumors in the past of Wright outplaying Gilchrist during training camp. Wright played exceptionally well in his senior year at USC but has yet to display that talent in the NFL. We need him now, if Gilchrist is the starter at safety, Wright is the only viable option to play opposite to Derek Cox. There are no other true cornerbacks aside from Gilchrist and Wright unless we call upon the services of undrafted Marcus Cromartie or Greg Gatson. Johnny Patrick is another discerning option.
Brandon Taylor – Taylor was the fourth safety off the board during the 2012 draft. With only one start under his belt it’s unclear whether Taylor is legit. Another concern is his knee, will he be ready to play when the season begins? He was a hard hitting safety while playing at LSU, that ruthlessness would be a great addition to the starting line up.
I definitely can’t wait to see Vincent Brown or how the defensive backs shape out. Who are you looking forward to seeing take it up a notch?