Here we are again… final cuts. As far as I can tell, the only areas that need to be addressed on the offensive side of the ball are the o-line depth, and the receiving corps depth. Although, if I had to bet.. I would say that the Chargers have fallen in love with Marion Grice, even though we are already carrying 3 very capable backs. If Grice or Oliver could return a kick, I would be in favor of keeping either one of them, if not both… but they can’t… so why would we keep them?
On the defensive side of the ball, it has been hot & cold mess, with tons of injuries. The D-Line is essentially obliterated, short of Reyes & Liuget. We were treated to Liuget making the “league acclaimed” offensive line look like a turn-style! Kaepernick was a deer in the headlights, and I wasn’t expecting that from Liuget, even though he was pretty solid all preseason (despite being hurt). I still don’t get why people are hating on Reyes… I think he is going to be a good DE this season, based on what I saw against the best defense in the NFL. I know some of you don’t agree, but what I saw on the field backs it up. Let’s hope that continues.
The secondary… it’s hard to grade this unit. Flowers & Verrett were our “best players”, but neither of them was ready for full contact for all of the preseason. So, I will reserve my analysis. I will say that I saw a couple of plays that didn’t rub me the right way from Flowers.. but, I will chalk it up to being “new” to the team. Steve Williams was burnt toast all preseason, and not showing signs of being more than an EXTREMELY limited rotational player, as of now. Perhaps he can be developed.
Shareece Wright didn’t show me that he was good, or bad, which is SO typical of him. Once the season ramps up, I expect Wright to get a LITTLE bit better, at a snail’s pace… kind of like Pagano will show promise at moments, but ultimately be the team’s biggest weakness. Wright will have two or three decent games at the end of the season, so everyone can point to how “he is getting better”, and forget about all of the times he got torched…. That’s if he doesn’t get a strained hammy or calf muscle first.
Richard Marshall.. for as much as everyone loves to hate him, is as advertised He’s a solid back-up, who might actually make a good play from time to time, if the other players in the backfield don’t get called for a stupid penalty. The safeties were OK in preseason, but we didn’t see a whole lot of Weddle. Addae, Gilchrist, and Stuckey were pretty pedestrian, and spent a lot of time covering up their mis-communications with each other. I still think that we should keep Chris Davis. He was the only one I thought was explosive in the return game, and I think he can be a good CB in the future.
The offensive line scared me at times this preseason. There were times when the first string offensive line were protecting Kellen Clemens against backups, and looked awful! But, when Philip was at the helm, he was completing everything at will, with little pressure. PR’s jersey was pretty clean this preseason. But, there were a lot of ugly sacks with the back-ups. HOWEVER… no need to worry. We have coach Joe D!!!! I would rather carry 9 offensive linemen, because Alessandris knows what to do with them, as opposed to Pagano. Our offensive line has been hit with the injury bug for years, and last year was no different. I can’t imagine why TT wouldn’t carry nine linemen, (one of who is already on the PUP.. cough cough Clary), when we have been ravaged by injury for so many years.
The wide receiver corp. I actually feel better about this group than any other group, except for QB. Malcom Floyd, Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal, Vincent Brown, Dontrelle Inman, and Seyi Ajirotutu are going to make a great group of receivers. I just don’t see them cutting Tutu. He has made some excellent stops on special teams. They would be stupid to cut him again, because that would be a major slap to the face for his continued service. It would just be “wrong” on all fronts. Carry six receivers this season. I am a little bummed Herndon will not make the roster. I think he has good potential. The injuries on this unit don’t concern me, as they once did. I know that is foolish.. but, I think we have seen the worst, and are out of the woods. I think our receiving corps will be our strength this season.
The tight ends are set in stone, with little wiggle room. But, I want to mention how much of a receiving threat they are. Gates is in the same class as Graham, and might as well be a receiver. Ladarius Green is going up for high balls like Floyd! Phillips even made some good plays in the season finale. Johnson played very well in the run game. Play-makers who can move the chains… be redzone threats… stretch the field… help pound the rock… block “adequately”… what more can you ask for? Great group there, if they stay healthy.
The running backs. Ryan Mathews is the bell cow of this offense. Don’t forget that. Ignore the “fumble in the redzone”, because it is completely irrelevant. He WILL carry this team, and get the tough yards. When Mathews & Woodhead combine for enough carries, this team wins every time. I pray that they don’t upset that formula. Donald Brown was supposed to be an “insurance policy”, and should be used as such. If Mathews had Brown behind him when he FIRST strained that ankle, the postseason would have been much different, and Denver would have been handled like the bitches that Seattle showed they were. This team rides upon Mathew’s & River’s shoulders, so don’t forget to root for them. Woodhead can pretty much be counted as an extra short-yardage receiver, as well. They might keep another RB, but they better make sure that they can return kicks.
The linebacker corps is scaring me a lot. I’m not confident in anyone except for Double J, and Freeney.. who is coming off of a major injury. Ingram got caught making a crucial rookie mistake with a “hands to the face” call against Seattle. He didn’t really generate a ton of pressure.. did he even get a sack? I shouldn’t even be asking. Pressure is nice, but I wanna see the T-Rex wrap those tiny little arms around QB’s!!!! I know it’s way too soon… but, I’m not really excited about Attaochu. I didn’t see anything that said “trade a pick away for this guy” during preseason. I know he will develop, but last time I checked… you don’t trade away draft picks for a project. I hope he proves me wrong. As for Tourek.. I still can’t figure out where he fits in. Is he an edge setter? If so, he sucks at it. In my heart, I can’t make a case for cutting Keiser for him, or even Law. He’s TT’s pick though, right? Let’s see if TT can cut the losses of multiple draft picks, because Reese, Sorensen, and Grice should not hold roster spots over other players, at this point. As for Te’O. I suppose we’ll wait another season for his feet to get better, and for him to develop. Let’s pray for an injury free Donald Butler year, eh? Connor has a spot, and so does Reggie Walker.. so… someone’s gotta go, I guess?
I think my biggest question is who DOES go to the PS. I think Ducre should, for sure. I would say Alecxih, even though he could be considered for a roster spot on the DL. Palepoi should make the roster, but could get stashed. Law should, if he doesn’t get a spot. Herndon for sure. Maybe Willie Smith. Oliver.. Darby… etc…. we get ten PS players this season. So, stock up!!!
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