2022 Preseason Preview: Chargers Vs Cowboys
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, the Chargers had the opportunity to participate in joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys. With the Chargers opting to not play any of their key starters in the preseason, the joint practices are a crucial opportunity to get best-on-best reps against someone other than their teammates. With those practices wrapped up, you won’t see many reps from starters against another team. While I would love to watch Justin Herbert in the preseason, I think it is the correct decision to rest him, among other players as well.
Similar to my article last week, I will be going into 4 individual players or position groups that I am looking forward to watching this Saturday: Chargers Vs Cowboys.
Training Camp Darling Michael Bandy
For those that have been following practice this past week and the scrimmage that took place, Michael Bandy was consistently one of the best receivers. In their preseason game against the Rams last week, Bandy caught seven passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers, for the majority of last season, carried five receivers and I never really agreed with that approach. Carrying a limited amount of receivers put a lot of pressure on the core four to play a ton of snaps on a weekly basis, and I believe that contributed to the wear and tear the group experienced at the end of the season last year.
I was thinking that the plan was going to be to keep five receivers again this year since DeAndre Carter is such a well-rounded receiver. With how well Bandy is playing, I am thinking more and more that he has a legit shot of making the team this season. I am looking forward to seeing if Bandy can keep building on his performance to give the team no choice but to keep him. I really want to see Bandy make the 53-man roster and am rooting for another productive game this Saturday.
The Former First Rounder Fighting For A Roster Spot
I will be the first to say that I am not Jerry Tillery’s biggest fan by any means. I’ve been frustrated with the lack of progress, improvement, and effort over the past few seasons. With the new defensive line additions, and other players stepping up and improving, I see a very real possibility that Tillery doesn’t end up making the team. This would obviously be a very disappointing end for the former first-round pick, but it is seeming more likely.
Chargers writer for The Athletic, Daniel Popper wrote from his observations from the joint practice that Tillery made several plays and was a force in practice. Unfortunately, we have seen this many times in the past. The flashes from Tillery are tantalizing. When he is on, he’s a very good player. When he is off, he is one of the worst defensive tackles in the league. What I am looking for from Tillery is still consistency. He didn’t play in any preseason games last season, and his performance against the Rams was underwhelming. Was his performance in practice this week simply an intense day? Or was this finally the sign that he was putting it all together? I doubt it’s the latter but we will see.
Right Tackle Continues To Stall Out
I know I wrote about this last week as well, but there is not much clarity at all between Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton at this point. Unfortunately, there isn’t much clarity because neither has been playing particularly well. I still believe that Pipkins will start and it seems that he has been given more opportunities at this point. There hasn’t been a ton of positive feedback on his play, so there is still time for him or Norton to take a commanding lead.
Brandon Staley was asked about this yesterday after practice and here’s what he had to say:
“My evaluation is they are both much better football players than they were last season. That is a fact. And then where it lies in terms of the order, we’re not there yet to make a decision. So they’re going to play in this football game, and we’re going to continue to evaluate it until we feel like we’re ready. But I will tell you that both of them are improved football players, and I’m really proud of the way they’ve improved.”Via Daniel Popper, The Athletic
While it is great that the team has seen improvement in both players, you would obviously prefer as a team to have the starter figured out as soon as possible for continuity purposes. Especially since whoever is the starter will be playing next to their first-round pick Zion Johnson. Having a positive relationship between Johnson and the right tackle is absolutely paramount, not only for Johnson’s development but for the unit as a whole.
I was hoping that the joint practices would be a separator for one or the other but that doesn’t appear to be the case. With only two games left before the season, the clock is officially ticking. One of the players NEEDS to separate from the other as soon as possible.
Michael Davis Earning His Way Back
I think a lot of people are going to regret how they have talked about Michael Davis this past year. He definitely did not have a good season last year and seemed to be regressing after signing his extension. However, he mentioned and Brandon Staley mentioned repeatedly that Staley’s system is difficult to learn as a defensive back and was a big adjustment for Davis. Davis mentioned that he was in a difficult place last year in his personal life and is much more focused this time around.
Davis was quieter on the field towards the beginning of training camp but has been playing exceptionally well the past 10 days or so. He has simply been more consistent recently. He’s collected multiple interceptions and pass breakups. He’s just been making big plays all over the field. He even has rotated inside a little more often, which should give the Chargers an added sense of versatility, not like they needed any more. If Davis can get back to the player that he was in 2020, this team would have four legit corners that could start on any team. That is an incredible advantage to have. I am looking forward to seeing Davis continue to build off this past week and see how he does in this game.
With only a few weeks until the first game and only two preseason games left, the Chargers should have a solid idea of where the team is at, and who will be making it. There are no doubt going to be a few players in this upcoming game that either surprise or disappoint that can lead to changes that we don’t expect. That is the whole point of the preseason. I am looking forward to the players I mentioned above and just getting out of this game healthy and improved.