The Los Angeles Chargers have been a popular choice to win the AFC West and even be the AFC representative in Super Bowl LIV. This is August, however, and February is a football lifetime away. The first step on the path to their first ever Lombardi trophy was taken back on April 25th. That night they made Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery the 28th pick in the draft. Throughout the grind of the offseason and now in the thick of training camp, the Bolts have made continuous strides toward their ultimate goal.
For some of us, we have been able to see glimpses of their progress at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex. For everyone else, the first real look at the 2019 Chargers will come in their first preseason game. The starters will probably see the standard early August workload but Super Bowl teams are like the cliched icebergs. Everyone can see the starters and what they bring, but the most important part is the depth of the team. How far the Chargers go this season will rely on how good their second and third units are. That is exactly who we will see against the Cardinals.
3 Things To Watch
Backup Secondary Versus Receiving Youth
The Cardinals made it an indisputable point to give first overall pick, Kyler Murray, a receiving corps that he can learn and grow with. Fifteen-year veteran Larry Fitzgerald will be a big part of Kyler’s progression in his rookie year. He won’t be a big part of Thursday’s matchup. Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson, and Hakeem Butler are three names that have garnered attention in the Cardinals young receiving group.
They will provide a good initial test for guys like Brandon Facyson, Adarius Pickett, and Jeff Richards. We will see how much work Murray gets but I expect a lot of the younger receivers for Arizona to be catching passes from NFL veteran Brett Hundley. With an experienced quarterback in the pocket, the second, third, and fourth groups of defensive backs will get some nice reps.
Chargers Linebacker Depth
Newly acquired linebacker, Thomas Davis, gives LA a solid first three in the middle of the defense. He, along with oft-injured Denzel Perryman and Uchenna Nwosu, will be the starters. The younger guys who come in after them will not have easy tasks in front of them. Kyzir White, Nick Dzubnar, and Emeke Egbule will be tasked with covering a tough tight end group for Arizona. Backup running back Chase Edmonds is also no slouch.
Chargers Offensive Line
This is probably getting to be an exhaustive take but it is also one that will continually be examined. There are some intriguing names on the alternate offensive line. Former Bruin Scott Quessenberry should see work at both center and offensive guard. If he shows out he could be a strong candidate to find time as a starter down the road. Not miles down, I am talking only a few blocks.
Trey Pipkins will get his first chance to prove whether or not he can be an impact player in his first year. He will relieve Trenton Scott at left tackle but is also a candidate to compete with Scott for the starting role as long as Russell Okung is out. Scott and Pipkins will play a lot.
The interior offensive line will also have a competing duo on display. Dan Feeney will get the start at left guard but Forrest Lamp will be in to get reps too. We may even see Feeney and Lamp in at each guard spot together. Lamp is essentially taking his third shot at a rookie season after 2017 and 2018 were riddled with injuries.
There is a lot to look for in Thursday’s game and we should see a pretty fun clash. One team is on the virge of a Super Bowl appearance and the other is launching a brand new era. While the trajectory of each organization is vastly different, their journies intertwine on the field of Univesity of Phoenix Stadium.