San Diego Chargers Preseason Recap: 5 Pleasant Surprises
The San Diego Chargers have scaled down their roster from 90 to 53 players this past weekend, and this could be an ongoing process all year.
General manager Tom Telesco and his staff will scour the waiver wire and other team's practice squads trying to find hidden gems that could help upgrade the talent level in San Diego.
Training camp has provided plenty of pleasant surprises that should contribute heavily to the outcome of the 2013 season.
The Resurrection of Philip Rivers
No deny that quarterback Philip Rivers' career has spiraled down the drain at an accelerated pace. Former general manager AJ Smith and head coach Norv Turner couldn't acquire quality receivers or design the right pass protection scheme to give Rivers any chance at being successful. These poor decisions ultimately cost them their jobs following the conclusion of the 2012 season.
New head coach Mike McCoy quickly recognized in training camp that Rivers can make plays in a controlled setting, as he's not an improviser once the pass protection breaks down. Last season, he threw eight third-down interceptions largely due to Rivers forcing the ball into double coverage too many times.
McCoy has stressed to trust the system, which requires a quarterback to use a three or five-step dropback approach in this precision route-running pass offense. All throughout the preseason, Rivers has shown great decision-making and pinpoint accuracy in his pass attempts, as McCoy has once again engineered another quarterback career makeover.
Fozzy Whittaker is an NFL running back
Chargers running back Fozzy Whittaker came into training camp having the longest of long shots of making the final 53-man roster. Yes, he was on the Phoenix Cardinals' practice squad last season, but Whittaker knew he had to impress the coaching staff immediately if he was going to get more reps in practice.
As the preseason wore on, it became apparent that there was no competition to backup Ryan Matthews in the backfield, as Whittaker led all running backs with 155 rushing yards in four games. He has enough breakaway speed to make a contribution as a returner on special teams, which secured a role on this team.
Jahleel Addae Suprised All
Safety Jahleel Addae is one of two undrafted rookie free agents to make the Chargers 2013 roster, as the coaching staff loves his passion for football. Size was never an issue; Addae measured only 5-10, 195 pounds at Central Michigan's pro day, but scouts came away impressed with his ability to cover receivers downfield.
You can described Addae's actions on the football field in three words: versatile, physical and intelligent; he's a hard-hitting tackler that can play both safety positions. His communication with others in the secondary has allowed the unit to play as one, and this must continue in the regular season if the Chargers have any chance of having a winning record.
Kwame Geathers Joined the Family Business
Kwame Geathers has a rich NFL bloodline, as his brother Robert plays for the Cincinnati Bengals and his uncle, James "Jumpy" Geathers spent 13 seasons in the league. You felt Geathers had an excellent shot of making the final roster because the Chargers lacked talent behind their starting defensive front. He has the potential to fight one day for a starting job, but that's down the road. Right now, Geathers must provide quality depth to a unit that has a bright future.
The Coming of Age of Ladarius Green
The Chargers knew they had a good mix of veteran and young talent at the wide receiver position, but feared they had no viable backup to tight end Antonio Gates. This absence could hinder the passing offense from becoming one of the more dynamic attacks in the NFL. Second-year tight end Ladarius Green came to camp determine to up his level of play and ease everyone's concerns.
There aren't too many NFL defenses that have the right personnel to cover a tight end of Green's ability, who has the height, speed and hands to become a coverage nightmare for any secondary. The sky is the limit for Green this season, as the Chargers could use more two tight end formations that will open up the middle of the field for the passing game.