All the talk and speculation is over, as football is back on the field. The San Diego Chargers have completed their first week of practice under the direction of new head coach Mike McCoy. The fans have flocked in record numbers to Chargers Park to catch their first glimpse of a new era in Charger football.
Here are five things we learned from the first week at Chargers practice:
1) Melvin Ingram Possibly in 2013?
The biggest blow to the final look of the 2013 Chargers roster could be the loss of outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the second day of organized team activities (OTAs) last May. This devasting injury left a huge void in the team's pass-rushing defense, which forced general manager Tom Telesco to sign free agent defensive end Dwight Freeney. He had a disappointing 2012 with only six sacks recorded in 16 games. So, everyone is assuming that this is last we will see of Ingram in 2013 or is it?
Prior to the start of training camp, the Chargers placed him on the active/PUP list, as this gives the coaching staff an opportunity to monitor the progression made from his rehabilitation after knee surgery. The next move is placing Ingram on the reserve/PUP list, which offers the Chargers a six-week window in the regular season to see if he can be a realistic member of the 53-man roster in 2013. Don't expect the team to rush Ingram back onto the field, as he's the future of the franchise.
2) The Left Tackle Competition
The Chargers had trouble trying to replace Marcus McNeill at the left tackle position following his retirement announcement prior to the start of last season. The talk of training camp this year has been the anticipated battle between King Dunlap and Max Starks for the coveted starting position, as each brings experience and stability to the offensive line. Mike McCoy's game plan is to decide on a starter quickly and then have the offensive line develop much-needed cohesiveness with continous reps in training camp. Remember, the Chargers will have two new starting tackles, as first-round draft choice D.J. Fluker will be starting on the right side.
3) Is Robert Meacham's Charger Career Coming to an End?
No argument that the wide receiver position has the deepest and most talented personnel on this year's Chargers roster. The final spot on the depth chart could come down to Robert Meacham and Eddie Royal, which could provide a spirited competition between two seasoned vets. It has been an up-hill battle for Meacham since signing his $ 25.9 million free agent contract, as he was unproductive ( 14 catches in 15 games) and nonexistent in the offense last year, while Royal develop great chemistry with quarterback Philip Rivers in the final four weeks of the regular season. Meacham's saving grace could be the sizeable cap hit the Chargers would take if they decide to release him, as this should create a roster spot by default. But, the front office could cut their losses quickly if Meacham doesn't show immediate improvement on the football field.
4) Another Jonas Mouton Devasting Injury
Sometimes, you shake your head and feel like certain athletes are cursed. Another year, another devasting season-ending injury for Jonas Mouton, as he tore his ACL on the first day of training camp. Mouton was expected to backup both inside linebackers (Donald Butler and Manti Te'o), and his loss has the Chargers scrambling to acquire more depth at the position. Recently, Telesco claimed linebacker D.J. Smith off the waiver wire from the Green Bay Packers, where he started six games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury himself. This is one postion where an unknown can sneak onto the final 53-man roster, who that person is remains to be seen.
5) Enjoy the Dan DePalma Experience
Every summer it happens, the fans cling onto an undrafted free agent that has the longest of long shots of making a team's roster, but somehow, they get involved in the mix and make life difficult for coaches. This year, wide receiver Dan DePalma is your lovable longshot candidate. He has shown to be dangerous with the ball in his hands, as the coaching staff figures to use DePalma coming out of the backfield on swing routes or on bubble screens. Remember, he impressed Tom Coughlin enough to make the New York Giants practice squad, so don't be surprised if De Palma secures a spot on the Chargers final roster come September.