SAN DIEGO -- Most of the discussion regarding the San Diego Chargers this offseason has been about the team's efforts to build a new stadium downtown. Now the franchise can finally shift its focus to the field with the start of training camp this weekend.
Rookies and veterans are scheduled to report to Chargers Park for physicals on Friday, with the first practice set for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. local time and open to the public.
Here are five things to look for over the next few weeks:
Melvin Gordon's health: There has been some hand-wringing nationally about Gordon's health status after the revelation of his microfracture knee surgery in January. But after a slow start, Gordon picked up the pace during mandatory minicamp and is expected to be full-go at the start of training camp. However, I would not be surprised if the Chargers take a cautious approach and start Gordon on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list just to make sure the young running back is fully healthy. Once on the field, how decisive Gordon runs and how well he holds on to the football after working out with mentor Adrian Peterson in Houston during the offseason will be points of evaluation during preseason play and training camp.
Joey Bosa's development: San Diego's first-round pick remains unsigned due to a contract dispute over offset language and the earlier payment of signing bonus money. Eventually, the issues will be resolved and Bosa will be allowed to hit the field once his contract is signed. What happens after that is even more important. Expectations are high, and Bosa has to continue the positive momentum he established during offseason work, showing he can win in one-on-one pass-rush situations and hold up as a run defender once the pads are on. Bosa needs to demonstrate his value early; fans are not going to cut him slack because of his high draft status and the contract dispute.
O-line chemistry: The Chargers added veteran center Matt Slauson in free agency and third-round selection Max Tuerk in the draft. Otherwise, the offensive line remains the same. The front five need to figure out a way to stay healthy for the duration of the season. The Chargers have not been close to a season in which the same five guys started all 16 games up front since a decade ago, in 2006, when left guard Kris Dielman missed just one game. San Diego needs that type of consistency and chemistry up front in order for the offense to perform better, particularly in the run game. We'll see if the front five can stay out of the training room.
Defensive intensity: Defensive coordinator John Pagano had his group playing aggressively and with urgency during offseason work. The result was more tipped balls and turnovers. That type of effort needs to continue in training camp and in exhibition play. With Jason Verrett, Denzel Perryman, Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Manti Te'o, Jeremiah Attaochu, Jahleel Addae and Bosa, the Chargers have an enthusiastic, young group of playmakers. I'm interested to see how that unit progresses in 2016.
The ongoing stadium push: The Chargers received some much-needed momentum on the stadium front when the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced the group's endorsement of the $1.8 billion downtown stadium and convention center annex project. Chargers chairman Dean Spanos said he's committed to keeping the team in San Diego, but the franchise will be hard-pressed to secure the two-thirds approval required for the passage of the citizens' initiative effort placed on the November ballot. Along with a costly public campaign, the Chargers need success early on the field in 2016.