- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Three thoughts as training camps open around the NFL:
One thing I'm certain of: The San Diego Chargers will be under the radar and they will love it. The nation has become tired of the Chargers. For years, San Diego has been a preseason darling. It has been a perennial popular early Super Bowl pick but has fallen short of the playoffs the past two seasons.
As a result, not much attention is being paid to the team anymore. I expect this team to welcome the lack of attention and use it as a motivational tool. The Chargers, who must win this season to save the job of coach Norv Turner, know the only way they will become relevant again is if they win. I expect this to be a focused group and one that will relish the idea of being the chaser and not the team being chased.
One thing that might happen: We may see how talented first-round pick Melvin Ingram is, and how important he will be to the San Diego defense. The Chargers received a gift when Ingram fell to the No. 18 spot in the draft. Many NFL scouts think he was the value of the draft.
The Chargers expect to use Ingram in several roles in training camp and in the preseason. He will likely be a pass-rushing linebacker. But he can also play in the defensive line. Because he has a lot to learn and grasp, Ingram may look lost at times, but it will pay off soon in the form of dynamic defensive play, which the Chargers desperately need.
One thing we won't see: The Chargers' kicking competition will likely not be settled in training camp. I think it will continue through the preseason.
Both Nate Kaeding and Nick Novak will be given a chance to win the job. Novak had a nice season in 2011 after Kaeding, a longtime standout, suffered a torn ACL in Week 1. Kickers win their jobs because of their performances in games, so preseason performances will likely go a long way in determining this battle.
1dEric D. Williams