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In a season of change, the San Diego Chargers are banking their entire success this year on a roster filled of question marks, as it's a mix of veterans and youngsters that all have definite flaws in their game.
The motto for each training camp practice has been to go out and make an impact on the field.
Unfortunately, some couldn't overcome the long odds of making the final 53-man roster.
Here are the San Diego Chargers' five biggest preseason disappointments:
The Starks Reality
The free agent signing of offensive tackle Max Starks was supposed to provide veteran stability to the weakest unit on the roster. General manager Tom Telesco was sold on his resume, as Starks was a key member of two Super Bowl winning teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The thought was for him to compete with another free agent signing, King Dunlap from the Philadelphia Eagles, for the starting left tackle position.
The competition was brief, as Starks showed early in training camp that he was slow and lethargic coming out of his stance to pass protect. Head coach Mike McCoy ended the suspense early following the final preseason game, when he announced that the team had released him following another poor performance.
No Manti Te'o
It seemed like a harmless injury, when it was announced that rookie starting inside linebacker Manti Te'o sprained his right foot in the Chargers first preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. He was expected to miss one week of training camp before returning to the practice field.
Well, one week has turned into missing the entire preseason, as time has slipped away from Te'o making a significant contribution to the defense this season. It's unrealistic for him to be NFL-ready after playing only nine snaps in the preseason. Don't count out Te'o just yet, as his football skills will get him an opportunity to play at some point this year.
Injuries Cut Into Wide Receiver Depth
Coming into training camp, the wide receiver position had the deepest depth on the Chargers roster. Suddenly, a few devasting injuries have cut into the unit's depth and confidence, as the team's misfortune began with their No. 1 receiver, Danario Alexander, suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his knee during the first week of practice.
Then, the Chargers' other starting wideout, Malcom Floyd, went down with a severe knee sprain that sidelined him all throughout the preseason. No surprise that the unit's production suffered, as they collectively caught only 30 passes for the entire preseason. The coaching staff must lift up their confidence level and convince the entire unit that the success of the passing game needs contributions from all not just one individual.
The Robert Meacham Experiment has Ended
The last mistake of the AJ Smith era came to merciful end on cutdown day, when the Chargers announced the release of wide receiver Robert Meachem. His free agent signing was a desperate attempt at replacing star wide receiver Vincent Jackson in the starting lineup.
The fans grew impatient with his lack of production, as Meachem's final numbers were 14 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns last season. His biggest lowlight was dropping a potential game-winning touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns in a gut-wrenching 7-6 defeat last December.
Roster Depth is an Issue
The preseason is a time for teams to quickly identify and add depth to their roster, but the Chargers failed to achieve this goal. No problem with the overall performance level from the starters; the second-team were the source of the Chargers' troubles in all four preseason contests.
Some backups (running back Fozzy Whittaker, quarterback Brad Sorensen and nose tackle Kwame Geathers) contributed enough to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster, but none gave the impression that they could challenged for a starting position in the near future.
Read more: AJ Smith, Brad Sorensen, Brown, Cleveland Browns, Danario Alexander, King Dunlap, Kwame Geathers, Malcom Floyd, Mike McCoy, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Vincent Jackson
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