Los Angeles Chargers are looking for a new wave of unheralded players to make a difference
Underneath the San Diego sun for the final two weeks, the Chargers will wrap their summer program with organized team activities followed by minicamp before breaking until July, a break that’ll have them coming to new digs in Costa Mesa for training camp.
Philip Rivers’ final passes at Chargers Park will be studied and dissected, and Keenan Allen’s surgically repaired knee will be tested on slants, hitches and fly routes. Melvin Gordon will slice through holes in the line, and Joey Bosa will certainly blow them up.
But some of the guys wearing the numbers you don’t immediately recognize, the ones you reach for the roster to identify, will be taking on starring roles in the B and C story lines in the final reps taken by the Chargers before going all Hollywood-ish.
One thing that’s been as San Diego as French fries in a burrito and palate-decimating IPAs has been the Chargers’ ability to use complementary running backs to augment their ground game. As LaDainian Tomlinson finished up his time with the Chargers, the team began making Darren Sproles, a 5-foot-8 dynamo, a bigger and bigger part of the offense.
After Sproles left for New Orleans, the Chargers had to wait a few seasons before re-casting that role, using Danny Woodhead as the change of pace to Ryan Mathews and, eventually, to Gordon.
But Woodhead decided not to return to the team this summer, instead signing with Baltimore as a free agent.
The team did sign Kenjon Barner as a free agent, and he fits the profile as a speedy, smaller back to pair with the more bruising style Gordon brings to the backfield. Andre Williams has had an impressive summer, too. But, a familiar face to Charger fans — albeit in a new number — might have the edge as the team’s second running back.
While Oliver got to impress Lynn on a Sunday before working with him in camp, most of the Chargers’ young players are getting their first chances to make an impression on the team and the mostly new coaching staff.
Center Spencer Pulley, an undrafted free agent the team signed last season, has been the first-team center for the summer, with last year’s center, Matt Slauson, sliding back to his natural position at guard.