COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers open training camp on July 25 in Costa Mesa, California. Here’s a closer look at a few storylines:
When will Melvin Gordon report to camp?
TBD. Through his agent, Gordon threatened to holdout and demand a trade if he does not receive a contract extension before training camp starts. Gordon is in the final year of his rookie contract that will pay him $5.6 million in 2019. Since the start of the 2016 season, Gordon is tied for second in the league in total touchdowns (38) and fourth in yards from scrimmage (4,372), so it’s understandable that the Wisconsin product wants a new deal. The issue for the Chargers is Gordon’s injury history, which affects his value. Gordon has ended two of his first four seasons in the NFL on the injured reserve due to knee issues, and only played one, 16-game season. Gordon also hobbled through the end of the 2018 season with injuries to both knees. Although the Chargers were 4-0 without Gordon in the lineup, he’s still a vital part of the team that makes the offense go. If the Chargers truly believe they can make the Super Bowl, general manager Tom Telesco has to figure out how to get a deal done and get Gordon in camp sooner rather than later. Despite the potential of him holding out, the expectation is the Wisconsin product will remain with the team long-term. “He’s a huge part of our offense,” Telesco said earlier this year. “He’s a warrior for us. He does all of the little things to be a great player that you don’t see in this room -- all of the little things you need. I love having him.”
The Chargers’ first-round selection in this year’s draft, Tillery had to watch from the sidelines during offseason work while he recovered from surgery in March to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. However, Tillery did get mental reps and film work during his rehabilitation at the team’s facility, and the organization believes the Notre Dame product will be cleared for the start of training camp. With Brandon Mebane and Justin Jones slated to start at defensive tackle, Tillery will likely be used in the defensive line rotation in obvious passing situations. The Bolts’ second round selection, Adderley is slated to compete for the starting free safety spot with incumbent Rayshawn Jenkins, but did not participate during mandatory minicamp due to a hamstring issue. Adderley should be ready to go for the start of training camp. His range and ability to take the ball away should improve an already strong Chargers’ secondary.
Will the Chargers and Philip Rivers agree on a contract extension?
Entering the final year of his deal, Rivers has said he’s fine with playing out the final year of contract that will pay him $16 million this season. However, the Chargers could avoid the distraction of contract talks by getting something done before the start of training camp. Rivers will be 38 years old in December, but is still playing at a high level and wants to around when the Chargers begin play in the new Inglewood Stadium in 2020. It makes sense for Rivers to sign a short-term deal, similar to the two-year, $68 million extension Ben Roethlisberger inked with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this year. “I can tell you that he’s not going anywhere,” Telesco said. “So, he’s going to be here. We’ll talk at the right point [in time] as far as the moves we need to make in the offseason, the resources we have and see how it all fits in. But, he’s not going anywhere.”
What’s the health status of left tackle Russell Okung?
The Chargers’ starting left tackle missed minicamp due to an unspecified injury. Coach Anthony Lynn would not provide any specifics on the issue. Lynn said he does not know if Okung will be healthy at the start of training camp. Okung’s possible absence creates instability at his position group due to inexperience. During minicamp with Okung out, Sam Tevi moved from right tackle to left tackle, while second-year pro Trent Scott stepped into the starting lineup at right tackle. Those two have a combined 17 starts in the NFL, and rookie third-round draft choice Tre Pipkins would serve as the team’s swing tackle. That’s not an ideal situation for a team that has visions of a deep playoff run, so Okung needs to get healthy.
Henry looked good during minicamp and was one of the stars this offseason for the Chargers. The Arkansas product played a handful of snaps in his team’s AFC divisional playoff loss against the New England Patriots after suffering an ACL knee injury in May of last year, but now looks like the talented playmaker the Chargers saw two seasons ago. So it’s reasonable to expect Henry to produce similar numbers to his 2017 season (45 catches for 579 receiving yards and four touchdowns). After telling Gates his services were no longer needed last year, the Chargers brought him back due to the Henry injury. Gates finished with 28 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns last season, and told Chargers’ brass he would like to return for a 17th season. While Gates is currently not on the roster, a possible return has not been ruled out.