LA Chargers News

Chargers and Rams joint practice: Who stood out?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Hunter Henry
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Hunter Henry
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The Chargers and Rams faced off for the team’s first joint practice of the season, giving players their first taste of competition from opposing squads.

The Chargers finally got to work against players who weren’t wearing the same jersey for the first time all year, hosting the Rams for a two-hour padded practice on Thursday. With many rookies or new free agents sprinkled throughout the roster, fans were excited to get a glimpse at the beginning of what could be a special Chargers team in 2019.

Unfortunately, the Chargers’ defense faced off against the starting offense of the Rams on the opposite field, much too far for anyone in attendance to be able to watch clearly. For those in the audience, today was all about the Chargers’ defense. And it delivered…mostly.

The good

Mike Williams had himself a nice catch in the end zone for a touchdown, working (pushing off?) against the corner to score with the first-team offense.

81 doing 81 things pic.twitter.com/XfZ2wbII6J

— Bolt Beat (@BB_Chargers) August 1, 2019

He’s been a highlight through training camp thus far, and appears ready to prove his sophomore season was no fluke by dominating on offense in 2019.

Though Williams will certainly help fill the void left by the departure of Tyrell Williams in free agency, Hunter Henry will serve as a better receiver and blocker than No. 16 in almost every way. Watching Henry on the field changes everything about how the offense looks, suddenly becoming more physically imposing with a smooth-catching big body over the middle. There were at least three plays today where No. 86 found a soft spot in the defense, including one short gain where he body-blocked two defenders and came up with a catch.

The player every fan had eyes on, though, was left guard Forrest Lamp. Rotating with Dan Feeney, Lamp looks like he’ll have every opportunity to win the starting job this season. On the last drive with the starting offense (and their longest), Lamp was the starting left guard. Despite a potential miscue allowing Aaron Donald into the backfield unblocked, No. 77 held his own with the ferocity of the Ram’s defensive line. There’s a lot to get excited about with him. On the other hand…

The bad

So Sam Tevi is still a problem, which unfortunately is not much of a surprise to any fan who watched the Chargers play good teams last year. No one wants Tevi to do poorly, but it’s hard to ignore what may be the biggest weakness on the team.

#LampWatch pic.twitter.com/1i25mFgYiz

— Bolt Beat (@BB_Chargers) August 1, 2019

The scary part: With Russell Okung potentially out for the first quarter of the season or more, it may be up to Trey Pipkins or Trent Scott to man the position, where Tevi may actually be the best remaining tackle. Meanwhile, Jerry Tillery has yet to fully practice; is it too late to still grab a tackle?

Surprisingly, Michael Badgley was not exactly his usual self today, missing multiple field goals from a not-too-far distance. He even hit an ambulance with a kick over a net (the kick was good), which may be some kind of intense foreshadowing for his season to come. It may not be much, as it is just practice, but it will be something to watch during the team’s preseason games.

The best

If Melvin Gordon truly wants to be traded, so be it. He wants to be valued higher (doesn’t everyone?) and his agent seems to think he can find a better deal elsewhere. However, every day he isn’t on the practice field is another day the Chargers get to employ Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and Detrez Newsome with the first-team offense. And they look great.

Next. Predicting the practice squad

There’s something truly exciting about watching both Ekeler and Jackson in the same backfield, both capable of game-changing plays as both runners and receivers. Each was used multiple times in different combinations, often a part of the same play. If Chargers fans were hoping for a little more creativity this year, they may get it from the running back position. Newsome also ran well in limited reps with the first-team offense, and even got some good rushes in with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. This trio can become a starting rotation in the NFL; will their offensive line work well enough to help them succeed?

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