Three players who must play big vs. Titans

Jul 30, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs during a drill in training camp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs during a drill in training camp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Before each game this season, I will be covering three players who need to play big for the Chargers in order to help the team come out on top.

Preseason is finally here–and it couldn’t have come sooner. This offseason has been full of ups and downs, and some good football is what we all need to forget about offseason drama. Since this is the preseason, the players on this list aren’t necessarily factors that will contribute to a win, but more of players fighting for a roster spot as well as players who have things to prove to the coaching staff and the fan base.

DE Darius Philon

Philon has been forced to step up this offseason with the absence of Joey Bosa. Each passing day, the Bosa dispute seems like an eternity. No team wants to see their first-round pick absent from the facilities, but I digress. A month ago, I wrote an article about Chargers no-names to know, and Philon was on the list.

After this game against the Titans, he won’t be a no-name any longer. Philon, going into his sophomore year with the Chargers, showed flashes throughout last year when he was brought in due to injury or just poor line play. Philon is a seriously fast defensive lineman with incredible speed off the snap. He can win early and easily against slower offensive linemen. Philon came into the league raw, but with a year under his belt, this is our first chance to see if he has grown into a starting caliber defensive lineman. If he performs well, it might make Bosa’s holdout more bearable.

RB Melvin Gordon

Gordon needs to be good this year, for his own sake as well as the team’s. Both Gordon and coach Mike McCoy have stated on multiple occasions that last year is behind him and he is hardly looking back at it at all. But as fans, it’s hard to forget how bad Gordon looked at times.

Sure, the offensive line was a mess, and the play-calling didn’t seem to fit Gordon’s skill set, but with his talent you would hope he would have been able to do something with what he was given–and yes, Gordon has talent. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Gordon has good burst, and his ability to shed tacklers can be phenomenal (which he had to do plenty of last season). Still, we have seen many players with all the talent in the world sink like a rock in the NFL. This will be Gordon’s first chance to prove he can float with the best.

WR Travis Benjamin

Benjamin has had an interesting offseason with the Chargers. He was expected to come in and be a dynamic receiver Day 1 for the Chargers, especially after coming off a good year with the Browns in which he almost eclipsed 1,000 yards with below-average quarterback play.

However, it seems Benjamin is taking a little bit longer to pick up the playbook and the different routes the Chargers run. Was Benjamin successful in Cleveland because he was the only viable receiving option, or is he actually the great receiving talent the Chargers believed him to be when they signed him? This game will give us a chance to tell.

Extra Credit

WR Tyrell Williams

Williams is another player I featured in the “no-names to know” article. Without even playing a game, Williams has become a point of interest when talking about the Chargers. He has easily been the golden boy of camp. The tall and speedy Williams has been making plays all offseason. He seems to have been polishing his route-running, giving him a dynamic that Malcom Floyd (who he is often compared to) never had. With Stevie Johnson now out for the year, Williams has a chance to step in as the third WR on the depth chart. The Titans game will be his first chance to show he is worthy of that spot.

OLB Jeremiah Attaochu

Attaochu seems to have been jumped by Kyle Emanuel on the depth chart. Oddly, Attaochu hasn’t shown a regression in play level. If anything, he has shown with every year an increase in ability. Emanuel might just be performing better. If Attaochu wants to find himself back with the first string, he has to show there’s a giant leap in his playing ability.

In closing

Football is back! There are many players to keep an eye on this preseason. Who will you be watching when the Chargers take on the Titans?