Chargers training camp update: Rookies shine, Tyrell Williams is the real deal

Jul 30, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Hunter Henry (86) catches a pass during training camp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Hunter Henry (86) catches a pass during training camp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Diego Chargers have completed a full week of training camp. Who has shined in camp thus far?

Training camp is the time when players fight for a roster spot. It’s a time when coaches try out new things and fans over-analyze every play. Let’s take a look at some of the headlines that surfaced over the past week.

Is Tyrell Williams a gem?

We all pulled out our hair when news came out that Chargers wide receiver Stevie Johnson tore his meniscus, which happened on just the second day of camp. Annoying, right? Typical unlucky Chargers. The good news? Johnson hasn’t been ruled out for the entire season (yet), and the Chargers signed former Packer James Jones, a big red-zone target for quarterback Philip Rivers, as insurance.

Even better news? Second-year pro Tyrell Williams, who has been taking more reps with the first-team offense in Johnson’s absence, has dominated.

Wideout @TyrellWilliams_ steps into the #Recharged spotlight to tell fans what's new at #ChargersCamp.

— #ChargersCamp (@Chargers) August 5, 2016

WIlliams, a 2015 undrafted free agent out of Western Oregon, has the speed/size combination team’s crave for. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder ran a 4.42-second, 40-yard dash at his pro day. Williams, who’s the tallest wide receiver on the team, has been the third wide receiver in three-receiver sets. More importantly, he’s doing damage on veteran corners.

Flowers just got SMOKED by Tyrell Williams for a TD

— Garrett Sisti (@GarrettSisti) August 5, 2016

The Chargers signed speedster Travis Benjamin in the offseason to be the team’s deep threat, but Williams could be the true replacement for Malcom Floyd. Let’s hope his play continues into the preseason games.

The rookies are making their mark

Most of us agree that the 2016 draft was general manager Tom Teleco’s best draft to date. Now that we see these rookies in action, the hype is real. Second-rounder Hunter Henry did not drop one single pass in his final season at Arkansas. He carried that over into training camp as he has yet to record a drop. Henry has been routinely getting open with smooth route-running and has done a decent job blocking, according to ESPN’s Eric Williams.

Myles Jack could have been a Charger, but the team decided to go with Henry. That choice is looking better and better each day, mainly because they found a gem with fifth-round linebacker/safety hybrid Jatavis Brown. Brown jumped up the depth chart almost immediately.

LB Jatavis Brown shows sideline-to-sideline speed, following Woodhead into flat. Working with ones, as Perryman (undisclosed) not practicing

— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) August 3, 2016

At the linebacker position, Brown has been keeping up with running backs in the open field and getting to the quarterback with ease. It’s going to be hard to keep this guy off the field. Even Joshua Perry, the team’s fourth-round pick, is picking things up fast. Perry, who started out with the threes, has recently been calling out the plays for the second-team defense, according to the Lightning Round’s Garrett Sisti.

The receivers are quite impressive

Keenan Allen is good. Nay, Keenan Allen is great. He’s reportedly been looking stronger and faster and making highlight-reel catches. He sat out majority of practice on Saturday, but head coach Mike McCoy said he was fine, stating that someone stepped on his foot the day before. Benjamin started off somewhat slow to begin camp, but he put on a show during Thursday’s practice. He also missed practice Saturday. And Gates–well, he’s still got it.

Gates TD in TRIPLE COVERAGE. Perfectly placed by Rivers in corner of the end zone. The play of camp so far

— Garrett Sisti (@GarrettSisti) August 5, 2016

The safeties aren’t a weakness?

It’s early, but the Chargers’ safeties are playing at a high level. Adrian Phillips, who was coming off a strong mincamp, made a few interceptions. CFL standout Dexter McCoil has also looked solid, making some nice plays in coverage and playing well as a box safety. It’s going to be interesting to see Phillips, McCoil, Dwight Lowery, Jahleel Addae, Darrell Stuckey and Adrian McDonald compete in preseason games. Their play in those games will be the key factor in determining who makes the final 53-man roster.

Other notes:

  • First-round pick Joey Bosa is still unsigned. Darius Philon, who has been filling in for Bosa, reportedly turned up his game (as expected). The addition (hopefully) of Bosa will only add to the excitement of this revamped defensive line.
  • ILB Denzel Perryman missed several practices, but he is okay. Hopefully, Perryman will return next week.
  • These young outside linebackers are going to be exciting to watch this season. Kyle Emanuel, the team’s fifth-round pick in 2015, was starting opposite Melvin Ingram in the first few days of camp. Jerry Attaochu, the team’s second-round pick in 2014, had two sacks in Friday’s practice. Expect Emanuel and Attaochu to rotate in order to stay fresh. Heck, expect defensive coordinator John Pagano to have all three out there at the same time every now and then. That would scare opposing offenses.
  • Speaking of linebackers, Manti Te’o, the team’s leader on defense, forced two fumbles (one recovered) in Friday’s practice. More importantly, he’s healthy after one week. It’s premature to say, but Te’o could be in for a big year.
  • I haven’t seen any “wow” moments from Melvin Gordon on Twitter, but apparently he’s doing fine (waiting to get a good look at him in a preseason game). Pass-blocking has been an issue, though, per U-T San Diego’s Kevin Acee. Also, Gordon was returning kicks on Friday–too many tequila shots for the coaches the night before.
  • According to multiple people on Twitter, the quarterback play behind Rivers has caused people to vomit uncontrollably. All joking aside, undrafted free agent Mike Bercovici has done some nice things as of late. Bolt Beat contributor Jake Hefner predicted that Bercovici would win the backup job…he could be right.
  • With Allen, Benjamin, Williams, Jones, and even Isaiah Burse spending some time with the first-team offense, is Dontrelle Inman the odd man out? His drops aren’t going to help his cause.
  • Matt Slauson’s addition must be huge, because I haven’t heard too much about the offensive line, which is a good thing. Even the second-team unit played well on Friday. Bolt Beat contributor Nick Mansoor did say that the first-team line struggled a bit during Saturday’s practice.
  • The team is relatively healthy. Let’s keep it that way.

The Chargers play their first preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 11.