SS Brandon Taylor (USA TODAY Sports)
With training camp days away, we run down a list of things to watch for at Chargers Park. From Mike McCoy’s new offense to concerns on defense to the annual positional battles, we analyze the key issues Bolts Backers should study.
Mike McCoy’s High Percentage Passing Game
The Chargers are implementing a new short passing attack designed to get the ball out of Philip Rivers’ hands faster. The objective is to get the ball out quickly with high percentage passes, which should ease the burden on an offensive line that is still a work in progress while also masking some of Rivers’ mobility issues.
McCoy has already said he would like Rivers to complete 70 percent of his passes in this new offense, but much will have to go right for that to happen. The offensive line will have to gel quickly despite returning just one starter to the same position as last season (Nick Hardwick). The receivers must learn to run precise routes and get open quickly, which could bode wells for guys like Eddie Royal and Deon Butler and may pose challenges for long-striders like Malcom Floyd.
How will all the pieces fit together? The answers will start to trickle in during camp.
Air Traffic Control
San Diego’s defense should be stout against the run. Stopping opposing passing games, however, will be far more challenging. There are two primary concerns.
First is the outside pass rush. Dwight Freeney, at 33 and coming off a five-sack effort in his only season in a 3-4 defense, must replace 2012 first-rounder Melvin Ingram. On the other side, Larry English must become a productive member of the rotation for the first time in his career.
The other concern is the secondary. Will Brandon Taylor be healthy enough to win the starting job at strong safety? Is fifth-round pick Steve Williams ready to win the nickel back job after playing mostly outside at Cal? Can Marcus Gilchrist carve out a niche for himself? And which of the undrafted rookies will step up and win roster spots at this paper-thin position?
The answers to these questions will determine just how hard Tom Telesco looks at the waiver wire once teams start making their final cuts.
Ready for Battle
One of the most exciting parts of training camp is watching players battle it out for starting positions. While there are not a ton of spots up for grabs this go-round, there are enough to keep it interesting.
Will Floyd or Vincent Brown start opposite Danario Alexander? Will Taylor, Gilchrist or Darrell Stuckey get the nod at the annually up-for-grabs strong safety position? Can sophomore Johnnie Troutman pry the starting job away from Chad Rinehart at left guard?
By the time camp breaks, these questions should all have answers.
Which edge rushers will shine during training camp? Talk in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.