SAN DIEGO -- Even though the San Diego Chargers held the Dallas Cowboys to seven points in a 27-7 win Thursday in the team's exhibition opener, head coach Mike McCoy said there's still room for improvement from his defense.
The Chargers had missed open-field tackles and struggled to stymie the Cowboys' run game, both things that plagued San Diego's defense last season.
The Cowboys finished with 92 rushing yards on 23 carries, averaging 4 yards per carry. Joseph Randle led Dallas with 50 yards on 13 carries. Last season, the Chargers gave up an average of 4.6 rushing yards per carry -- No. 27 in the NFL.
McCoy said his defense missed at least 10 open-field tackles against the Cowboys. And while acknowledging Dallas has one of the better offensive lines in the NFL, McCoy said his team still needs to play more stout up front against the run.
"We've got to do a better job in my opinion against the run," McCoy said. "We gave up too much at times. But there were times where it was outstanding. The first play of the game is a perfect example. When everyone is sound in their technique, gap responsible, doing it the right way and doing certain things.
"The second play was very similar, but we missed a tackle unfortunately. So it was hit and miss at times. But that's every game. Everyone has to do their job the right way. You're playing good football teams, and that's a good offensive line. It's a good test for us."
McCoy said that middle linebacker Alvin Scioneaux suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during Thursday's contest and is out for the season. Lawrence Guy has a shoulder injury. There is no time table for his return. The Chargers have not made a roster move to replace Scioneaux on the 90-man roster.
Despite his fumble on the goal line, McCoy said that Ryan Mathews remains the team's every-down running back. Mathews has 14 career fumbles and has lost eight of them. But he only had two fumbles on 285 carries last season. "He's our bell cow," McCoy said. "I'm giving it to him again at the goal line. He's jumped over the top a number of times and scored in his entire career here. The safety put his head on the ball, and the ball came out. So that's all part of the game."
Defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi was active against the Cowboys, finishing with a combined four tackles. An undrafted rookie free agent out of Utah, Palepoi can play both defensive tackle and defensive end in the Chargers' 3-4 defensive front.
No player really stood out in the contest for San Diego's top punt and kick return jobs. Chris Davis, Jevontee Herndon and Eddie Royal all had opportunities to make plays, but Davis had the longest return at 13 yards.
Linebacker Reggie Walker led the Chargers with a combined five tackles. He also finished with a half of a sack and a quarterback hurry.