It can be said by fans of every team in the NFL at this point in the preseason: “Man, if only____”. And the Los Angeles Chargers are most definitely in that boat right now.
With that in mind, what do you say we take a look at five things to think about as the team heads toward the regular season.
1. Another NFL Holdout
Running back Melvin Gordon‘s holdout looks to be getting downright ugly, to say the least. Multiple sources are now reporting that Gordon’s holdout is expected to continue into the regular season. Agent Fletcher Smith reportedly said weeks ago that his client was willing to sit out part of the season if he didn’t get either a re-negotiated contract or a trade. $5.6 million just ain’t what it used to be.
2. Keenan Allen Injury Serious?
It certainly seems like wideout Keenan Allen is dealing with the notorious high-ankle sprain. The good news is that, if that is indeed the case, there’s no structural damage to worry about. The bad news, of course, is that high-ankle sprains usually linger. Sometimes for a whole season.
3. Solid Running Back Depth
Speaking of Gordon, and maybe unfortunately for him, the Charger depth chart at running back doesn’t exactly look empty in his absence. I’m not a polished NFL scout or personnel executive (although I am a highly regarded fantasy football GM) but I think between Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson the Bolts might just have themselves a quality one-two punch in the backfield.
4. Chargers DB Coverage On Tight Ends
One of the least talked-about aspects of the Derwin James‘ injury situation is the second-year safety’s ability to cover opponents’ tight ends. According to various statistical/analytical sites, James is one of the best if not the best safety in the NFL at doing just that.
Which leads us to the team’s opening day opponent, the Indianapolis Colts. Indy’s tight ends might be the best in the league. It is certainly the deepest, most talent-rich position group on the team’s roster. Assuming the Chargers’ vaunted pass rushers produce as they are expected to, their DB’s should be capable of keeping pace. If not, the Colts’ tight ends could run roughshod over the Chargers’ secondary.
5. Tough Early Test For Rivers
QB Philip Rivers will be facing possibly the toughest test of his career early on in the season. With his familiar running back probably sitting out for at least the first couple games and his most reliable, big-play receiver not at 100% even if he does play from day one, Rivers certainly couldn’t be blamed for making a bottle of Tums his constant companion over the next month or so.
But that’s the thing about Philip Rivers. He never really seems to care about obstacles, whether they are injuries, holdouts, or some kind of natural disaster, for that matter. Rivers always just seems to want to play ball. He’s the last guy on this team that I would worry about.