NFL Nation: Eddie Royal

Here's what I know as of Tuesday morning regarding receiver DeSean Jackson and the Redskins:
  • There is not yet a deal, according to multiple sources. But to say it doesn't look promising for the Redskins would be wrong. Very wrong. However, I've seen them close to making other big acquisitions over the years only to lose out at the last minute (Jay Cutler, Eddie Royal). So until a contract is signed, nothing is done. Various reports out of Philadelphia have called it a done deal (97.5's Tim McManus and ABC-6's Jeff Skversky). Skversky caught up with Jackson at Dulles airport. Perhaps that's what Jackson is telling people. Royal told people the same thing a couple of years ago. So did Cutler. Hence the caution.
  • Would I be surprised if it doesn’t happen? At this point, yes. And I think those who have spent time around Jackson in the past few days would say the same thing. One person said he was very confident it would happen.
  • Jackson will visit Redskins Park Tuesday and meet with the coaches and members of the front office. He dined with some of the coaches Monday night.
  • Though I wonder if this is a unanimous decision in the organization, I was told that coach Jay Gruden really wants Jackson. I was also told that Jackson was very, very high on his desire to join the Redskins. When both sides really want something, it's the first, second and third steps toward making that happen. But even the person who said Jackson was that high on the Redskins acknowledged that the money had to be right. So desire won't trump all.
  • There is a great deal of excitement by the players over Jackson's potential arrival and what could be done in this offense. There's a sense by some that Jackson is driven as much by his late father as anything and that he's not as bad as portrayed.
  • And the addition of safety Ryan Clark adds even stronger leadership in the locker room to help diffuse any potential situations. Some things always pop up, but some players need more attention.
Keenan Allen had one of the most impressive rookie seasons for an NFL receiver in recent memory. However, the San Diego Chargers’ receiver group is one of the youngest position groups on the team.

So keeping a productive, experienced hand around like Eddie Royal is important. Royal, who turns 28 in May, was to make $4.5 million in base salary for the upcoming season –- a high figure that made the Virginia Tech product a potential salary-cap causality.

However, I can confirm a report by Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego that Royal agreed to restructure his contract to a reduced, more cap-friendly number. Royal’s 2014 salary was guaranteed at a lower number that allows him to recoup some of the lost salary through incentives.

The move creates more cap space for the Chargers to bring back other potential free agents, such as the recent re-signing of middle linebacker Donald Butler. Royal will become an unrestricted free agent in 2015.

Royal was a mainstay at slot receiver for the Chargers in 2013, developing a good rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers. Royal gamely played with turf toe for most of the season, missing just one game. He also provides versatility with an ability to return punts and kicks.

Last season, his most productive as a Charger, he finished with 47 receptions for 631 yards and a career-high eight touchdown catches.
SAN DIEGO -- Running back Ryan Mathews was not on the practice field for the early portion of practice on Friday, the first time he’s missed a Friday practice since suffering an ankle injury against Oakland three weeks ago.

Mathews’ absence is not a good sign for the San Diego Chargers, who need the bruising running back available to provide balance offensively.

Mathews ran for 127 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown, in a 27-20 win against Denver in December. If Mathews can’t go, Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown likely will split carries at running back for San Diego.

Mathews appeared to tweak his ankle against Cincinnati last week. He carried the ball only one time in the second half of San Diego’s 27-10 playoff win against the Bengals.

Along with Mathews, guard Jeromey Clary (shoulder) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) are not practicing on Friday.

The Chargers did receive some good news, with center Nick Hardwick (concussion) clearing the NFL’s concussion protocol and returning to practice on Friday. Hardwick had a helmet and went through individual drills with the first-unit offensive line during the early portion of practice, while Clary watched on the side.

Right tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle) also practiced for a second straight day.
SAN DIEGO -- Running back Ryan Mathews was one of two players listed as not practicing on the San Diego Chargers' injury report Wednesday.

Mathews wore a protective boot on his injured left ankle coming off of the field at the end of practice. But he says that everything is fine. Mathews did not practice most of last week but still played against Kansas City, rushing for a season-high 144 yards on 24 carries.

"I'm fine," Mathews said. "I'm good. You just have to stay in it mentally."

Along with Mathews, receiver Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice. But both are expected to play Sunday in Cincinnati.

Defensive linemen Sean Lissemore (shoulder) and Kendal Reyes (ankle) were limited in practice.

Outside linebacker Thomas Keiser did not make himself available to reporters in the locker room after practice to discuss his recent arrest.

San Diego coach Mike McCoy said the team is handling Keiser's situation internally. Keiser did practice Wednesday and is expected to play on Sunday.

"We discussed it early Monday morning -- that's the first thing we did in the team meeting," McCoy said. "We addressed it, said 'Here's how we're handling it.' And we're moving on."

Keiser, 24, was arrested over the weekend on a misdemeanor battery charge after an altercation with another man in a restaurant that turned into a fight Sunday after San Diego's overtime win over Kansas City.

"Thomas is our teammate, our family and we support him," safety Eric Weddle said. "And until they figure all of that out we're worried about the Bengals."

Prediction: Chargers 31, Chiefs 17

December, 29, 2013
SAN DIEGO -- Though they've been mysterious about specific plans for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers, it's easy to know what to expect from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Players and coaches to a man have talked about how important it is for the Chiefs to beat the Chargers, but Andy Reid has talked about resting key players and trying to keep them fresh for next week's opening-round playoff match, a game that really is important.

If Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and other star players are out of the lineup early in the game, that sends a stronger message about Kansas City's desire to win this game than anything they say.

Meanwhile, the Chargers may or may not be vying for a playoff berth by the time the game kicks off. If both Baltimore and Miami lose in early games Sunday, San Diego would get the final wild-card spot by beating the Chiefs. If either Baltimore or Miami win, the Chargers are eliminated and as far as the playoffs go will have the same motivation as the Chiefs, which is to say none.

The Chargers seem more motivated than Kansas City does regardless. The 8-7 Chargers have talked about the importance of finishing with a winning record and building momentum for next season. While those incentives aren't nearly as strong as playing for the playoffs, they are more than the Chiefs have going for them.

So the playing field definitely isn't a level one in this regard. Maybe the Chiefs will surprise with their effort but more likely they will be watching the clock and waiting for it to expire like a kid on an average school day.

The Chargers are an improved team since they came to Arrowhead Stadium and beat the Chiefs late last month. They had been allowing a lot of points and gave up 38 that day but since have progressed considerably on defense.

Outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Jarret Johnson are finally healthy and playing well. The Chargers made a lineup change in the secondary, benching cornerback Derek Cox, and suddenly they're creating turnovers and getting opponents off the field on the third downs. San Diego is allowing just 16 points per game in the four games since they played against the Chiefs.

Offensively, the Chargers may be without running back Ryan Mathews and wide receiver Eddie Royal because of injuries. But it's hard to shake the memory of how easy things were for Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen against the Chiefs the last time. And they were playing reserves at the end of the game against the Chiefs. It was seldom used wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu who caught the winning touchdown pass.

The Chiefs could rise up and play well, but it's not wise to expect that given the circumstances. They have bigger prizes to play for than Sunday's game and the result should reflect that.

Prediction: Chargers 31, Chiefs 17.
SAN DIEGO -- For a third straight week, the San Diego Chargers will go into a game mostly healthy.

Receiver Eddie Royal and fullback Le'Ron McClain were the only players on San Diego's injury report listed as questionable. Royal has not practiced on a regular basis since suffering a toe injury against Indianapolis on Oct. 14, however, he's only missed one game due to the injury.

McClain was a limited participant on Friday due to a hamstring injury, so his availability is in question for Sunday’s contest against Oakland. Tight end Antonio Gates also was a limited participant on Friday. However, Gates' issue was not injury related, and he’s expected to play on Sunday. Gates was listed as probable on the team's injury report.

Linebacker Bront Bird (ankle), right tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle), receiver Keenan Allen (shoulder), linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand), running back Ryan Mathews (foot), safety Eric Weddle (hamstring), cornerback Shareece Wright (foot) and center Nick Hardwick (not injury related) all fully participated in practice on Friday and are probable for Sunday’s game.
SAN DIEGO -- For the first time in many weeks, the San Diego Chargers had all 53 players on the active roster participate in practice Tuesday -- a good sign for a team facing the Denver Broncos, who are undefeated at home.

"The last couple weeks coming out of games we've been fairly healthy," San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. "Every game you're going to have some dings, but nothing serious. So it's been a good couple weeks for us."

Receiver Eddie Royal (toe), center Nick Hardwick (neck), cornerback Shareece Wright (foot) and defensive back Johnny Patrick (ankle) were limited in practice.

Receiver Keenan Allen (shoulder), tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle), defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand), defensive tackle Sean Lissemore (toe) and defensive end Corey Liuget (knee) were full participants.

Royal had not practiced since injuring his toe against Indianapolis on Oct. 14. Royal missed just one game over the past seven because of the injury, against Cincinnati. With less practice time, Royal said he put in more film study and mental reps to make sure he was prepared to play.

"I just had to study more than normal," Royal said. "Because when you're out there running the plays, you don't normally have to go home and look at it for hours. But now that you're not doing it, you want to make sure that you're detailed in what you're doing. There's a lot of little things that you have to pay attention to when you're not out there practicing every day."
SAN DIEGO – Defensive end Corey Liuget was a surprise addition to the San Diego Chargers' injury report on Thursday, apparently suffering a knee injury during practice. He was listed as a limited participant.

And for a second day in a row, center Nick Hardwick (neck) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe/chest) did not practice. Hardwick is expected to play against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Other than that, everyone practiced fully for the Chargers. Coach Mike McCoy said this week that his team is the healthiest it's been all season.

“It’s nice when you can come off of the field like we did the other day after the game and not have to worry about X number of guys being injured,” McCoy said “And on Monday morning worrying about what did the tests reveal. We’ve been as healthy as we’ve been in a long time.”

Left tackle King Dunlap (neck), right tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle), defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), receiver Lavelle Hawkins (knee) and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand) were full participants.
SAN DIEGO -- Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram said he had a good week of practice, but will not be added to his team’s active roster for the San Diego Chargers" target="_blank">San Diego Chargers' game at Kansas City.

“I’m not playing this week,” Ingram said. “They’ve been through a lot more stuff than I have. I’ve just been through rehab, working out and conditioning stuff. But they’ve been through training camp and almost three-fourths of a season. So I just need to work on everything, and I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Ingram remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but practiced for the first time this week, moving fluidly and showing some explosion through individual drills during the early portions of practice.

However, Ingram still is a little over six months out from having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Chargers have until Dec. 10 to add Ingram to the active roster, or place him on the reserve PUP list for the remainder of the regular season.

“Until you practice enough and do certain things, you’re not going to be in football shape,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “You’ve got to get out there and put the pads on, and do things a certain way before you get in football shape. He’s worked extremely hard, and he’s in good shape right now.”

McCoy on if Ingram will play this season: “I think that he’s got a very good chance. But it’s also something where we’ve got to each day pick it up for him, and see how his knee responds. He’s done a great job with it these last three days. So we’ll take it week by week and see how he feels.”

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand), left tackle King Dunlap (neck) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice on Friday. Dunlap is listed as out. Johnson is doubtful, and Royal is questionable.

McCoy said that Johnson played with a similar hand injury while with the Ravens. Johnson's left hand is in a soft cast after having surgery to fix the issue on Monday. Johnson's already missed three games this season due to a lingering hamstring issue.

“I’m always hopeful, yeah,” said Johnson, when asked about the prospect of playing this week. “Any injury slows you down and limits you, but everybody’s dealing with stuff, especially at this point in the season.

“This is a very important game for us and everybody needs to carry their weight. I’ve struggled with that this year with all my injuries. That’s not something new, but that’s something you’ve got to deal with.”

San Diego’s nickel cornerback Johnny Patrick (concussion) was cleared to practice on Friday after sitting out most of the week, and was a full participant. Patrick is questionable for Sunday’s game.

With Johnson and Ingram likely out, the Chargers likely will go with Thomas Keiser and Tourek Williams at outside linebacker, with Reggie Walker and Adrian Robinson serving as backups.

Center Nick Hardwick (neck), receiver Vincent Brown (shoulder), safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), receiver Keenan Allen (knee), running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring), defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe) and linebacker Manti Te'o (elbow) were full participants and are probable.
SAN DIEGO -- At 4-4 overall at the midpoint, the San Diego Chargers are about where they should be heading into the season's backstretch.

Quarterback Philip Rivers' bounce-back season has been one of the main storylines for this team, along with the return of a competitive spirit established by first-year head coach Mike McCoy.

Still, the Chargers face a daunting schedule if they want to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009. San Diego still has five AFC West division contests left -- two each against division leaders Kansas City and Denver.


Rapid Reaction: San Diego Chargers

November, 3, 2013

LANDOVER, Md. -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 30-24 loss in overtime to the Washington Redskins.

What it means: The Chargers drop back to the .500 mark at 4-4, and are 2-1 against the NFC East.

Stock watch: San Diego’s top signing in free agency, cornerback Derek Cox, appeared to get benched in favor of Johnny Patrick in the third quarter after giving up a long completion to Pierre Garcon. Cox signed a four-year, $20 million deal in the offseason, including $10.25 million in guaranteed money. Cox has struggled to play up to the level of the contract. The Chargers had no answer for Garcon, who finished with seven catches for 172 yards.

Rivers struggles: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers scuffled coming off the bye week. He finished 29-of-46 for 341 yards, one touchdown on a screen pass to Eddie Royal, and two costly interceptions. But both turnovers weren’t all on Rivers. Vincent Brown appeared to break outside on a route that Rivers anticipated he would go inside, leading to an interception by Washington’s E.J. Biggers. In the second half, Keenan Allen was outmuscled for a 50-50 ball by a childhood friend -- cornerback David Amerson -- on an inside route in the fourth quarter.

Special teams show up: San Diego punter Mike Scifres twice had punts downed at the Washington 1-yard line. Lawrence Guy blocked a 25-yard field goal attempt by Kai Forbath, the first field goal blocked by the Chargers in 11 years. Guy also deflected a Robert Griffin III pass that was intercepted in the end zone by defensive tackle Sean Lissemore for San Diego’s first defensive touchdown of the season.

Washington runs it well: San Diego struggled containing Washington’s running game, led by tailback Alfred Morris. The Redskins finished with 209 rushing yards. Morris led the way, with 121 yards on 25 carries, including a 5-yard touchdown for a score.

What’s next: The Chargers head home to host AFC West rival Denver next Sunday.
OAKLAND -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers27-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

What it means: The Chargers dropped into the AFC West cellar with a loss to the Raiders in the team’s first divisional game. San Diego was the favorite heading into a contest for the first time this season but failed to play with the urgency needed to win on the road.

Blunders and miscues reign: The Chargers turned the ball over five times, and the Raiders converted those miscues into 17 points. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw three interceptions, including one on the opening series, which Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor quickly converted into a 44-yard touchdown pass to Rod Streater. Eddie Royal's muffed punt was recovered by Oakland’s Chimdi Chekwa and converted into a 47-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal in the second quarter. And Charles Woodson scored a touchdown on a 25-yard fumble return when linebacker Kevin Burnett jarred the ball loose from Danny Woodhead on a big hit in the third quarter. The Chargers also had a field goal try blocked. San Diego’s defense failed to contain Pryor, who finished 18-of-23 passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

Offense sputters: San Diego’s offense had been purring through the first quarter of the season heading into Sunday’s contest, but Rivers and the rest of the offense sputtered against the Raiders. The Chargers were shut out in the first half for the first time this season. They finished with more than 400 yards of offense but just 32 rushing yards. The Chargers played most of the contest without their leading rusher, Ryan Mathews, who left the game in the first half with a concussion.

Young receivers play well: Vincent Brown has his best game of the season, finishing with eight receptions for 117 yards, including a long of 51 yards, and rookie Keenan Allen had his second straight productive game, finishing with six catches for 115 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown.

What’s next: The Chargers return home to Qualcomm Stadium to face the Indianapolis Colts next Monday night.

QB Watch: Chargers' Philip Rivers

September, 18, 2013
A weekly examination of the San Diego Chargers' quarterback play:

Rewind: Philip Rivers was brilliant in the Chargers' 33-30 win at Philadelphia on Sunday. Rivers was 36-of-47 for 419 yards and three touchdowns. His Total QBR was 93.5 -- the highest in the league in Week 2. After two weeks, Rivers looks primed for a bounce-back season.

Fast-forward: A confident Rivers is headed to Tennessee. The Titans defense can be passed on. Houston came back and beat the Titans in Week 2 as Matt Schaub threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns. Expect Rivers to test the Titans by being aggressive early.

Connecting with Royal: Rivers has been famous during his career for making due despite less-than-great receiving options. The Chargers are thin at receiver again, but Rivers is making it happen. His favorite target has been Eddie Royal, who has five touchdown catches in two games. Rivers completely trusts Royal. With Malcom Floyd sidelined with a neck injury, expect Royal to be Rivers’ go-to guy at Tennessee.

Prediction: Rivers will complete 27 of 43 passes for 317 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Upon Further Review: Chargers Week 2

September, 16, 2013
An examination of four hot issues from the Chargers' 33-30 win at the Philadelphia Eagles:

[+] EnlargePhilip Rivers
Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsSan Diego's Philip Rivers has been among the NFL's elite quarterbacks this season.
Beating the odds: This was an impressive win for the Chargers. Many things were stacked against them heading into this game. They traveled across the country on a short week to start a game at 10 a.m. PT. Their 31-28 season-opening loss to Houston (the Texans scored the game’s final 24 points) ended at about 10:30 p.m. PT Monday night. And, it was a short turnaround to deal with Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense. But the Chargers came out energized and were the better team. This was a well-deserved win for San Diego.

The quarterback: For the second straight week, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers looked good under new coach Mike McCoy. Rivers completed 36 of 47 passes for 419 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He now has seven touchdown passes and one interception in two games. He looks refreshed and confident. It is also getting good protection. Kudos to a maligned offensive line. It has played well in the first two games.

Overcoming mistakes: The Chargers finally sealed the win over the Eagles with a field goal in the final seconds. It could have been much easier. Tight end Antonio Gates lost a fumble at the goal line, and running back Ryan Mathews also lost a fumble in the red zone. The Chargers have been their own worst enemy for a few seasons. McCoy is trying to change the culture, but this game shows the remnants are still there. But it's impressive the Chargers found a way to win despite their self-destructive ways.

The receivers: Eddie Royal came up big for the Chargers. He had three touchdown catches and has five in two games. He was expected to be a back-of-the-rotation receiver, but injuries have given him an opportunity. He played under McCoy in Denver, and McCoy clearly has confidence in him. He made a lot of big plays Sunday. The Chargers needed him after No. 1 receiver Malcom Floyd left the game with a neck injury that required a hospital visit. Royal is clearly a spark plug in McCoy’s offense, and Rivers trusts him.

SAN DIEGO -- A look at another jaw-dropping come-from-ahead loss for the San Diego Chargers -- this time 31-28 to the Houston Texans -- as the Chargers begin a new era:

What it means for San Diego: The Chargers are well, the Chargers. Unreal. And it’s not all Norv Turner’s fault. Turner’s teams were known for blowing games. Last year, on a Monday night, the Chargers turned a 24-0 halftime lead against Denver into a 35-24 loss. Stunningly, the Mike McCoy era has started in similar fashion. The Chargers led the Texans 28-7 in the third quarter. What a disappointing start for McCoy, who by the way was with Denver last year. His team was so impressive for so long Monday night, but the misery continues. Quarterback Philip Rivers was great for most of the night, but he will be remembered for an interception that Houston’s Brian Cushing returned for a score to tie the game at 28.

Letting Houston back in: The Chargers’ defense faltered the second half. It gave up huge plays on third-and-18 and third-and-13 to allow the Texans to cruise back into the game. The special teams also got into the choking act. The Chargers were called for a penalty on a field goal that gave Houston new life. The Texans ended up scoring a touchdown. That was a huge four-point swing.

Stock watch: San Diego receiver Eddie Royal had three catches, two of which were touchdowns. He was targeted often. Rivers seems to trust him. Overall, it was a good night for San Diego's maligned offensive line. King Dunlap and crew held star pass-rusher J.J. Watt in check for the most part. Not a lot was expected from this unit, but it came up big for much of the game.

What’s next: The Chargers go to Philadelphia to face the NFL’s flavor of the moment. Chip Kelly’s Eagles are the big curiosity in the league after beating Washington on Monday night. There is no doubt the Chargers’ defensive players will have to put on their track shoes for this one. The Eagles' offense goes fast.