The Los Angeles Chargers will play their first pre-season game this Thursday (8/8) at 7:00 PM PST against the Cardinals. While training camp gives a lot of information on how players are looking, you don't really get a feel for their impact until you watch them in a live game. Here are some unanswered questions I will be looking for answers to when the Chargers take on the Cardinals.
Is There a Charger Who Can Play Offensive Tackle?
The Chargers' offensive line was bad last season, and, when little attention was paid to it during the off-season, the outlook for the group got pretty bleak. When news broke about Russell Okung's medical condition possibly causing him to miss significant time this season, it got worse - especially at tackle.
Training camp hasn't done anything to ease our concerns as neither Sam Tevi nor Trent Scott have looked the part. So I will be watching (and rewatching) every tackle to see if there is any hope to be had at this position. Trey Pipkins is the obvious player to watch here. Being that he is a rookie, we don't know much about what to expect from him in a game situation. So, keep an eye on #79.
Is Forrest Lamp the Charger's Best O-Lineman?
This isn't a very high standard, but if Lamp is the best lineman on the team, the question of where he can have the most impact arises. Lamp was a fantastic collegiate left tackle. I'd like, at some point, to see him get some reps at tackle to see if he could be the answer to question number one. For now, it looks like Lamp is locked into a position battle with Dan Feeney at left guard.
Does Justin Jackson Have the Confidence to be a Number One Back?
Last week, I wrote a review of Justin Jackson's rookie season. In it, I praised Jackson's hard running style and vision, but pointed out that he was often inefficient in his movement when hitting holes. He needs to be more decisive when he picks a hole so that it is still there when he runs through it.
This could be an issue with confidence and familiarity with his offensive line. Now, that he has a training camp as the guy under his belt, I'm curious to see if he has a better feel for his big men up front. With the struggles the offensive line has had, Jackson can't afford to be too choosy when it comes to picking a hole. It is likely that the first hole he sees will be the only one he sees. So, I'm hoping to see more one-cut and go from him.
With this being the first pre-season game, we may not see much of Jackson. The last thing the Chargers want is to lose Jackson to injury early and gift Melvin Gordon some leverage in the contract talks. So, we may have to wait until the second or third pre-season game to see much of him.
Will Someone Emerge as the Clear Favorite in the Free Safety Battle?
Rayshawn Jenkins has the inside track to the starting free safety role, but the selection of Nasir Adderley in the second round of this year's draft is in indication that his grip on the position isn't a tight one. I expect that the starter will be one of those two, but Jaylen Watkins could challenge as well.
Adderley has been slowed down by a hamstring injury. So, I don't know how much of him we will see on Thursday. If he's fully healthy, I'd expect him to get the majority of the playing time. Otherwise, expect Watkins to get a longer look.
This is the hottest training camp battle going on right now. So, it will be interesting to see who emerges.
Those are the big questions I have going into week one of pre-season. We shouldn't expect to get a good look at the starters until the second and third games, but this week should help inform us as to how some of the position battles are shaping up.