NFL pre-season games are not the easiest things to judge.
Some teams rest players, other teams play their stars but only for a series of two, while still many teams are super conservative with the playbook.
So, what all could be gathered from Thursday night’s 17-7 victory for the San Diego Chargers over visiting Dallas?
Here are 3 things to tackle this morning as you get ready for the weekend and more football (pre-season albeit) on the tube:
1. Not everyone got out healthy – The biggest concern for most teams is getting out of the pre-season alive. Just ask the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost star placekicker Shaun Suisham to a torn ACL injury in last weekend’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. For the Chargers Thursday evening, outside linebacker Tourek Williams had to be helped off the field with what later turned out to be a broken foot. According to reports, the third-year Florida International pro will need surgery. For a team that has some defensive challenges to address from a season ago, losing a potentially key player for 2015 hurts;
2. Depth at the running back position – After five years of up-and-down performances from Ryan Mathews, the Chargers and the Fresno State product parted ways in the off-season, opening the door for Wisconsin stud Melvin Gordon to be drafted with the team’s first pick. Gordon only saw limited action (six carries, 11 yards) in his NFL debut, but he certainly has the potential to have a breakout season in year one. The back who led the Chargers in rushing yardage a season ago, Branden Oliver, finished the night with 53 yards (one TD) on 10 carries. While Gordon figures to be the focus back this season behind Philip Rivers, look for Oliver to get his share of carries. Jahwan Edwards (11 carries, 53 yards) also had some nice runs on the evening, while it was good to see Danny Woodhead (one TD) back in the mix. Even if the Chargers just go with those four guys to carry the pigskin, they should be in pretty good shape this season;
3. Who gets most attention from Rivers? – It is no secret that the Chargers have never fully replaced the talents of Vincent Jackson after he left for Tampa Bay a few season ago. Yes, Keenan Allen is primarily the go-to guy these days, but the Bolts need more than just Allen. Keeping Malcom Floyd productive and just as importantly healthy this year is critical. With veteran tight end Antonio Gates having to sit out the first four games of the regular season (suspension), that is one key cog missing in the passing game. Someone like a Dontrelle Inman could be a pleasant surprise if given the opportunity. While he is also listed as a wide receiver, Javontee Herndon could definitely be a threat returning kicks and punts if he’s with the team come September.
With 58,507 in the house for the pre-season opener, losing Williams to a broken foot was the worse thing that Chargers’ fans had to deal with on a very balmy evening.
Gearing up for a visit to the Arizona Cardinals next Saturday evening (7 p.m., KFMB Channel 8), the Bolts will look to continue fine-tuning the machine and getting out of the desert without any notable injuries.