Tuesday, June 17, 2014
5 things to watch for in Chargers minicamp
By Eric D. Williams
The San Diego Chargers open a three-day minicamp on Tuesday which will complete the team’s offseason training. It is mandatory for everyone on the 90-man roster. If a player does not show up on Tuesday, he faces a fine of $11,575. If a player misses all three days of the minicamp, the maximum fine is $69,455.
Players also are subject to a $10,930 fine for missing a physical usually given when guys show up for the camp on Monday.
That said, here are five things to watch for as San Diego opens camp today.
Freeney’s health: Still recovering from surgery to repair a torn quad that cut short his 2013 season, outside linebacker Dwight Freeney believes he still has something to prove. But don’t expect the 34-year-old edge rusher to do much this week. Most of the work Freeney has done has taken place on a side field with the training staff, as he has yet to compete during 11-on-11 drills. And that is fine. Freeney needs to be healthy at the start of the regular season. The Chargers know what he can do on the field, and it’s critical that San Diego have one of the team’s best pass-rushers available for the start of the regular season. For now, the Chargers need to have a good understanding of where Freeney is physically.
Get to the ball: One of the things defensive coordinator John Pagano continues to emphasize during organized team activities is every defensive player relentlessly pursuing the ball to the echo of the whistle. The Chargers at times had issues with effort last season, and Pagano wants to make sure that is not a problem moving forward. With improved effort and pursuit, Pagano hopes to curb big plays in the secondary and create more turnovers.
Who emerges at cornerback? The three-day practice period will be a good opportunity to evaluate what player is emerging in the battle for the starting left cornerback position opposite Shareece Wright. Last season's starter, Richard Marshall, is penciled in for now. But Steve Williams and Brandon Ghee are battling for time. Also, the Chargers drafted Jason Verrett in the first round for a reason, so expect him to get a chance to earn the job once he’s healthy for training camp.
Who is at right guard? With Jeromey Clary still rehabbing from offseason shoulder and hip surgeries, the Chargers have used Johnnie Troutman, Rich Ohrnberger and rookie Chris Watt at right guard with the first unit. I’m interested to see which of those players receive the majority of reps with the starters. Creating position versatility and depth is a strength of offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, but at some point the team has to focus on creating some chemistry with the five guys who will start come September.
Depth at nose tackle: With rookie Ryan Carrethers still learning the defense, Sean Lissemore and Kwame Geathers have been working at nose tackle with the first two units. Creating depth and consistency along the defensive line is important, with the Chargers struggling up front against the run uat times last season. Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes are solid at defensive end, but San Diego still needs to develop a run-stuffer at nose tackle to protect middle linebackers Donald Butler and Manti Te'o.
Let me know in the comments section other things we should keep an eye on this week.