The San Diego Chargers open training camp on July 29 at Chargers Park in San Diego, California. Here’s a closer look at the Chargers’ camp, which will wrap up on Aug. 20.
Top storyline: The No. 3 overall selection in this year’s draft, Joey Bosa remains unsigned due to a contract dispute. The Ohio State product already missed mandatory minicamp and is penciled in to start at defensive end. The Chargers had one of the worst run defenses in the league last year, and can’t afford the team’s first-round draft pick missing valuable reps to start training camp.
If the starting QB doesn’t get protection, the offense will struggle: Philip Rivers has been a model of consistency, never missing a start over the past decade. However, the offensive line struggled to protect Rivers and create rushing lanes for Melvin Gordon last season. The Chargers hope the addition of Matt Slauson at center solidifies things up front, but if the injury bug persists for San Diego’s offensive line it will affect the play of the entire offense, including the production of an aging Rivers.
Player who will have fans buzzing: Fresh off signing a four-year contract extension worth up to $45 million this summer, Keenan Allen has shown no ill effects from a lacerated kidney that ended his 2015 season. The Cal product caught everything during offseason work and appears even faster heading into his fourth NFL season. Allen had 67 catches through eight games last year. If he can stay healthy, a 100-catch season is within reach.
Position battle worth watching: Both will play meaningful snaps, but the battle for the starting cornerback job opposite Jason Verrett between incumbent Brandon Flowers and free-agent addition Casey Hayward is worth monitoring. Flowers showed a renewed commitment to his workout regimen this offseason. However, Hayward said he’s more comfortable playing the perimeter.
That rookie should start: The obvious choice is Bosa. As Chargers coach Mike McCoy likes to say, San Diego drafted Bosa for a reason, and that was to make game-changing plays along the defensive line. However, someone else to watch is sixth-round selection Derek Watt. With the Chargers looking to run the ball more, Watt is competing with fellow rookie Chris Swain for the starting fullback job.
Veteran whose job is in jeopardy: The Chargers love Sean Lissemore because of his work ethic and versatility. But with free-agent signee Brandon Mebane brought in to start at nose tackle, Lissemore will have to battle to earn a job as a rotational player on the back end of the roster.
Melvin Gordon eyes bounce-back year: The Wisconsin product’s rookie season was a disappointment, as Gordon failed to score a touchdown and struggled with fumbling issues. Gordon also had microfracture knee surgery in January and has to show that he’s healthy at the start of camp. Gordon has a better knowledge of San Diego’s offense in his second season. And the return of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt should put Gordon in a position to succeed.
Denzel Perryman ready for takeoff: The Miami product set the tone on defense the second half of 2015, and should play even faster this season with a year of experience under his belt. Perryman and Manti Te’o form a productive combination at the inside linebacker position for the Chargers.
What fans will be saying after camp: Lots of talk for the Chargers has centered on the offense, with the addition of wide receiver Travis Benjamin and the return of Allen. But if everyone stays healthy and plays to their potential, San Diego has a chance to have a top-10 defense. With the addition of Bosa, along with free-agent pickups Dwight Lowery, Mebane and Hayward, San Diego should be more consistent stopping the run and creating pressure in passing situations. The Chargers also focused on taking the ball away and getting it back to Rivers during the offseason.
For daily updates at camp, check out the San Diego Chargers clubhouse page.