The first Chargers preseason game is on Saturday at their home stadium against their cross-town rival. It hasn’t been determined who will play just yet, but here are the players to keep an eye on if they take the field:
This first-round pick has been making monster catches and fitting right in with this retooled, explosive offense. It’ll be exciting to see him suit up and perform for this first preseason game.
Hightower has been a standout during training camp with lots of big catches and touchdowns. He’ll finally see some action this coming Saturday so I’m eagerly awaiting all his highlights.
Palmer has been picking up right where he left off from a career-high season in receiving yards and receptions, with some memorable plays during camp. He’ll look to build off that momentum in this first preseason game.
Spiller has been quieter in camp but has been steadily splitting time with Joshua Kelley. Spiller has a lot to prove after missing so much time last season due to injuries. So this year will basically serve as his rookie year. This game will be a testament to his health as well as if he has the skills to take on that RB2 role.
Woods has been working at the third safety spot during camp. He primarily played special teams last year but will be counted on more this season after the retirement of Nas Adderley. Woods had issues in the past with tackling and that was evident last preseason. This will definitely be an aspect of his game to really pay attention to during this first matchup.
Kelley took on the primary workload behind Austin Ekeler last year and it seems like he’ll be doing that again unless Spiller shows something remarkable during these preseason games. Though Kelley also had some injuries last year, he was able to play in the majority of games and ended the season with 303 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Easton Stick hasn’t seen action in a game since the preseason of last year, as Chase Daniel was QB2 for the regular season. He only made one passing touchdown in the three preseason games and his completion percentage was 60 percent. Now that he’ll be the next one up if something happens to Justin Herbert, and he’s been getting more reps in camp, hopefully, we’ll see a more confident quarterback in these preseason games.
Duggan was drafted as the final pick of the 2023 draft in the seventh round. He played over 2,900 snaps for TCU and ended his time there with a career-high in passing yards (3,697), passing touchdowns (32), and completions (267). He’s been seeing a bit of action during camp but this will be the first time we’ll see him command an NFL offense.
- Asante Samuel Jr.
Samuel played a few snaps during the first preseason game last year and as he’s been battling Ja’Sir Taylor for the slot cornerback position, there’s a likelihood we’ll see him play a little in this first game. Samuel has been working hard to hone his versatility in his position group and this will be the first test.
Taylor has been alternating with Samuel to the inside and outside cornerback position, trying to stake his claim. If he impresses during this game and the subsequent ones, he’ll be making a good case as a third starter.
Edge rusher, Tuipulotu was drafted this year in the second round. In his last season at USC he had 29 STOPs, 25 solo tackles, and double digits in areas like quarterback hurries (37), and sacks (13). He’s been active during camp and just got a sack on Herbert during the intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday. He seems like a promising backup for a position group that desperately needs good pieces in case Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa fall to injury.
The linebacker was drafted in the third round this year. He ended his time at Washington State, where he played his senior year, with a career-high of five sacks. Daniel Popper of The Athletic on Day 7 of camp had great things to say about Henley. “Henley looked fantastic in coverage. He had two pass breakups in his two reps, showing really good feel and instincts in reading routes and breaking on the ball.“ He’ll have a chance to show off those receiver coverage skills on Saturday night.
Wide receiver Davis was drafted in the fourth round. He had a career-high in receiving touchdowns (five) in his last season at TCU and played his fair share of special teams snaps. Saturday will be the first time we get to see him in the return specialist role to see if he can fill the shoes of DeAndre Carter.
- Jordan McFadden
Offensive lineman McFadden was drafted in the fifth round. Despite giving up four sacks last year at Clemson, he only allowed one quarterback hit, eight hurries, and 13 quarterback pressures. According to Popper, he was playing guard a bit during camp and he’s currently listed as left guard in the Chargers unofficial depth chart. He’s also seen action at left tackle as both Rashawn Slater and backup Zach Bailey were out on Day 7 of Training Camp. He’s going to add some much-needed depth to this position group.
Defensive lineman, Matlock was drafted in the sixth round this year. He had a career-high in STOPs (27), solo tackles (35), and quarterback hurries (20) in his last year at Boise State. This defensive line needs all the help it can get, so hopefully Matlock is up to the task and performs well.
Dicker has been the primary kicker for the majority of training camp, and I expect that to continue during these preseason games. He was solid when he came on mid-season even amidst very high stakes, so I’m not too worried about his performance.