The offseason came and went for the Chargers without shaking up the roster drastically. L.T. re-signed with the club and his explosive back up Darren Sproles signed a 1 year tender to maintain one of the most dynamic backfields in the NFL. Norv Turner is looking into ways of getting both Tomlison and Sproles on the field at the same time, something that hasn’t occurred so far. It has been reported that L.T. is not only accepting of the idea but is actually pushing for it. This selfless attitude might be just the thing missing from a team that has been one the AFC favourites for the past few years now but has failed to make it to the big game. The receiving corps has also shown the same unselfishness. Rivers will have 3 or even 4 viable targets this season to go along with his all pro TE Antonio Gates and nobody is complaining. Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers continue to be #1 and #2, while Malcolm Floyd and former 1st round pick Craig “Buster” Davis will battle out the slot role. Even special teams ace Kassim Osgood figures to see the field often this season. Don’t expect any of these guys to finish in the top 10 in receptions in 2009, but be surprised if the Chargers’ passing attack is not ranked in the top 10. 5 Chargers caught four or more touchdown passes last season and we can fully expect Phillip Rivers to continue spreading the wealth among his receivers. The “run first” approach of Norv Turner will continue to dominate, but this Charger offense will be highly explosive in 2009.
The defense figures to be much improved from last season, when it ranked 28th overall and 31st against the pass. The main reason is the return to health of Shawne Merriman, who will be helping the struggling secondary by getting to opposing QBs early and often. Ron Rivera’s assumption of the DC role mid way through the season seemed to “stop the bleeding” of incompetent defense under former DC Ted Cotrell. So there is good reason to believe he will have his unit ready for 09. The addition of former Tennessee Volunteer star Kevin Burnett (from Dallas) improves the linebacker group. He will push incumbent Tim Dobbins for the starting ILB spot in what is shaping into the toughest camp battle.
1st round draft pick DE Larry English is signed but has been hampered by a hamstring injury. He might hit the practice field this weekend. The pass rush specialist is expected to contribute to an already stellar pass rush that includes “Lights Out” Merriman and Shaun Phillips.
With a defense that is looking to prove that 08 was a fluke and an explosive offense, many people believe the Chargers’ year is at hand. When asked what the team goal was this year, Antonio Gates had this to say
“Anything less than a Super Bowl championship. It doesn't exist for us.”
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Written by The Gator Great