Chargers - Packers 2012 Preseason Impressions

It's one game. Actually, it's one preseason game. It's easy to make a lot of snap judgments after one game, even after the first game of the preseason. As we all begin the evaluation process, let's keep in mind that no team has ever won or lost a championship in the first game of the preseason.

That being said, this team is going to the Super Bowl*.

With that out of the way, I can move on to my impressions from the Chargers' first preseason victory, a 21-13 win over the the Green Bay Packers.

For starters, the big news of the night is Ryan Mathews' broken clavicle, which will require surgery and will keep him out for 4-6 weeks.  Before learning the extent of Ryan Mathews' injury, I had the feeling that the running back depth chart might as well be Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Brown, and no one else. With fullbacks Le'ron McClain and Jacob Hester on the team, did it really matter who that fifth guy would be? Now that Mathews is out, that spot could not be more important. 30-year old Brown can't carry the load alone, and I'm not sure they want McClain to be the consistent change up they'll need going forward.

No debate, Melvin Ingram is a stud. The Packers' fill-in left tackle wasn't much of a test for the Charger's rookie linebacker, but you can't hold that against Ingram. He got better as the game progressed, and should only continue to become more of a difference maker.

Offensively, the Chargers were less than impressive. They made some plays, but overall they looked a little out of sync. I'm going to rack that up to conservative preseason play calling, but I hope to see improvement as they get some starters back.

Speaking of the offense, Vincent "VJ" Brown was a shining star Thursday night. He may have the best hands on the team- maybe even better than Antonio Gates. How long before Brown is starting? Whether he starts or not, he's going to get his share of catches.

And speaking of the offense, the Chargers' starting tackles left a lot to be desired. Undrafted rookie free agent Mike Harris is, well, an undrafted rookie free agent. What's Jeromey Clary's excuse?

How is the Chargers' best backup left tackle option an undrafted rookie free agent?

I think Melvin Ingram just ran down another Packer receiver from the locker room. That guy was constantly around the ball last night.

Direct TV commercials...could Eli Manning have a worse "I'm a bad ass" face? The answer is no.

It was very interesting to watch the rotation at linebacker. Takeo Spikes was used for just a couple of series, and Demorrio Williams saw some time with the first team.  Shaun Phillips, Antwan Barnes, and Ingram moved through the outside linebacker rotation seamlessly. Jarret Johnson missed this game, but will add even more toughness to the defensive front.  Williams on 3rd down seems to be the plan for this season, and that should be a big help to Spikes. Barnes may start on opening day, but Ingram is bound to get more playing time.

Did I mention how happy I am to have Ingram wearing the lightning bolts? Finally, a 1st-round pick who should make an immediate impact.

It was great to see Shareece Wright making plays early in the game on special teams, and later in the game on defense. He has more than earned his spot on the roster; he's really making a push for more playing time in the secondary.

Nate Kaeding or Nick Novak? All I know is that Kaeding's leg looked stronger than ever. I don't think he's going anywhere (so start praying for some playoff blowouts now, Chargers fans).

Safeties Atari Bigby and Brandon Taylor were alright. Taylor should get better; will Bigby?

Corey Liuget looked good; Kendall Reyes looked really good, considering his rookie status.

We have reached the time of year when everyone talks about how awesome the Chargers' 3rd string rookie quarterback-of-the-future could be.  Seriously, if they need Jarrett Lee on this roster, that says more about Charlie Whitehurst than anything else ever could..

Is it just me or were the replacement officials guessing much of the night? Not a good sign for the NFL.

If I had a dollar for every time Jon Gruden says "I really like this kid," I might have tried to buy the San Diego Padres by now.

What were your impressions from the Chargers' first preseason game? Do you agree that the defense is looking to be much improved over last year? Is the loss of Mathews devastating or a minor set-back? Sound off in the comments section below and let your voice be heard!

*I'm not really predicting a Super Bowl berth for our Bolts. Not yet. But I'm not betting against them at this point!

Follow Jeff Williams on Twitter: @JSWilliams75

August 10, 2012

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