In part two of our San Diego Chargers Fan Fest notes, let's look at how the offense and special teams looked.
QUARTERBACKS START HOT, THEN COOL DOWN
This could be a sign of an aggressive and much improved defensive unit, but the Quarterback play was a bit shaky today. They were constantly under pressure, being flushed out of the pocket or otherwise hurried into making questionable throws. Both Philip Rivers and Billy Volek were targets of multiple interceptions, but they also had a number of stellar touchdown passes. It was an up and down day for the QBs.
RECEIVERS UNIT LOOKING DEADLY
Malcom Floyd made a ridiculous catch in the corner of the endzone, falling backwards but staying in boards. He's a redzone monster and offers a huge target for Rivers to toss the ball up to. He's playing on a one year deal if I remember correctly, so it'll be interesting to see how he performs this season.
Vincent Jackson continued to impress me. I watched him closely as I feel this year will be a pivotal one for him. Jackson is on the verge of being recognized league-wide as one of the elite young receivers in the NFL. In practice, he would nonchalantly snatch the ball out of the air with one hand. During team drills, he used his body to compete in traffic. And he displayed his deep speed with 50+ yard catch over the shoulder for a touchdown. With so many talented receivers in the AFC, it'll be hard for Jackson to earn the votes for a Pro Bowl, but I think he could have that type of a year.
Legedu Naanee is continuing to develop into a nice player, and is showing some improved speed. When he came in as a rookie, he was carrying some extra weight, but he's really trimmed down and looks fast.
Kassim Osgood used his strong hands to hang on to a nice catch that Cletis Gordon try to strip from him. Osgood practices hard and caught everything thrown to him.
Antonio Gates, bigger and thicker this year, moves around with uncanny smoothness. Rivers threw an absolute rocket at him in the endzone which bounced off of Gates' mitts with a loud "Pop!" but was secured for the score.
RUNNING GAME FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS
The Chargers have typically been able to run to the left side with good results over the past few years, but this year they are hoping to have an equal amount of success running to the right. Kynan Forney, who didn't practice as he spent time with his wife and newborn baby, will provide a strong, physical presence as Mike Goff's replacement at right guard. Forney, along with a continually improving Jeromy Clary, hope to dictate the line of scrimmage much in the same way Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman have over the years.
Dielman, in fact, was used often on pulls to the right side, paving the way for Ladainian Tomlinson to break for big runs. The Chargers used this play on a couple of occasions, and each time it was a success. It'll be interesting to see them use this play in games, as this is exactly the type of ace-up-their-sleeve play that the Chargers coaching staff could use with great results.
Tomlinson looked fast, had all of his explosive moves, and caught the ball well. I couldn't help but think to myself that LT looks as dangerous as ever once he gets into the open field.
Speaking of dangerous players, Darren Sproles will continue to be a spark plug player who is capable of making the big play. He didn't have much success running up the middle, but that's not the type of player he is anyways.
Jacob Hester is noticeably thicker and more stout. He gets to his block quickly. I think he's a smart player who will show some real improvement as a fullback this year. I wonder, however, if he has a mean streak? I don't see him being the intimidator that Lorenzo Neal was. I think Hester's game will be more chess-like, rather than pure smash-mouth.
Lineman Scott Mruczkowski is transitioning to his new role as the backup center, and he is making sure that his presence is felt on the football field. He was active all day long, twice getting in the face of a defender; Mruczkowski and Kevin Ellison were mixing it up a little bit, and he also jawed at Brandon Siler after an accidentally rough tackle the linebacker made on Darren Sproles. I like the attitude, it's good to know the offensive linemen are such a passionate bunch.
PROLIFIC SPECIAL TEAMS
Charlie Martin, Darren Sproles, and Antonio Cromartie all took returns to the house. Part of that is obviously due to the fact that contact is intentionally limited. But could another part be that the special teams are still adjusting to the new wedge rule?
Nate Kaeding was drilling 50+ yard field goals, and in fact I don't believe he missed a single attempt all practice long. Talk about being Mr. Automatic.
Labels: Chargers Practice 2009
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