SAN DIEGO -- With Zach Mettenberger gone and now plying his trade for the Pittsburgh Steelers, undrafted rookie Mike Bercovici earned primary consideration as the young, developmental quarterback prospect for the San Diego Chargers.
The Arizona State product appears to have a good command of the offense, for the most part has been decisive in his reads and shows confidence as a leader on the field in practice and in games.
However, Bercovici’s performance in preseason games has been pedestrian at best. He’s appeared in all three exhibition games, completing 16 of 31 passes (51.6 percent) for 221 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Bercovici has been sacked once, posting a 35.2 passer rating.
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy believes Bercovici’s stat sheet isn’t representative of the way he’s played, and that the first-year player can’t get bored with the easy completions.
“You don’t have to make the big play,” McCoy said. “Just take what the defense gives you and move the ball down the field. That’s what your job is as the quarterback -- and avoiding turnovers. There’s going to be an errant throw or two from time to time, that’s this business.”
Along with the play of Bercovici, here are a few other things to watch for when the Chargers face the San Francisco 49ers in the team’s final preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium:
Will Joey Bosa play? With only one day of practice in a helmet and shorts on Monday, it’s unlikely that recently signed first-round draft pick Joey Bosa will play on Thursday. However, McCoy didn’t rule out that possibility. “We’re going to take it one day at a time and go from there,” McCoy said. “And time will tell how we do things.” One thing the Chargers could do is suit up Bosa for pre-game and let him go through workouts on the field, essentially getting another practice for the Ohio State product as San Diego attempts to get him ready for the regular-season opener on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 11.
How does the defensive line play? After giving up nearly five yards a carry last season, the Chargers are allowing a league-leading 5.6 yards per carry defensively during the exhibition season. That’s not a good look, so things really have not improved. However, the Chargers have been better against the run when nose tackle Brandon Mebane and other front-line players are in the game. The problem is San Diego needs to develop more depth behind Mebane and other starters along the defensive front. So players like Ryan Carrethers, Darius Philon, Tenny Palepoi and Chuka Ndulue have to emerge as capable back-ups to spell Mebane, Corey Liuget and others, particularly with nose tackle Damion Square serving a four-game suspension to start the season. If not, expect GM Tom Telesco to heavily work the waiver wire during final roster cuts.
Who wins the kick-return job? Isaiah Burse, Craig Mager and Deandre Reeves are all in line to get bites at the apple at the kick-return job left vacant after Branden Oliver suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. It'll be interesting to see which player provides the most explosive playmaking ability, while still taking care of the football. Also, the Chargers have to consider who might be the most versatile.
Colin Kaepernick watch: The San Francisco quarterback has said he intends to continue his protest of sitting down during the national anthem. In a town with a strong military presence, there’s bound to be some backlash to Kaepernick’s stance. Coincidentally, the Chargers will celebrate the team’s 28th Annual Salute to the Military at Thursday night’s game, including pregame entertainment provided by Marine Band San Diego, along with the Frog X parachute team featuring retired Navy seals who will be leaping into Qualcomm Stadium. The national anthem will be performed by Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Powell from the U.S. Navy while 240 sailors, marines and soldiers present a U.S. Super Flag. It will be interesting to see the response to Kaepernick from players, coaches and fans in attendance.