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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Chargers defence impresses while knocked up offense struggles

San Diego Line
The Chargers' game vs the Vikings was both worrying and exciting depending what side of the ball you were on. The defence have shown through preseason that they can return to the form they were in under Ron Rivera and that they now had the weapons to have a dangerous pass rushing attack. The offense, which only had five of its usual starters, failed to impress in any single area and did not manage a touchdown.

Starting on a positive note, the Chargers appear to have their pass rush problems finally solved. Kendall Reyes has managed a sack every game so far and Melvin Ingram, has also got to the quarterback. Most pleasing for the coaches and AJ Smith is seeing former first round pick Larry English getting in on the sack count. One of his teammates was quoted after the game as saying that English had been 'unblockable for the last ten days'. He certainly made himself hard to block against the Vikings and managed a pair of sacks which should get him in the mix for a larger number of reps in the regular season. He is likely to play well in the season so long as he stays away from injury but as the Chargers know already, he has struggled with injury throughout his NFL career. Overall the Chargers defence was very promising keeping the first team Vikings offense to three points for three quarters.

The offense however was disappointing. It cannot come as a huge surprise that the offensive line struggled on the left side and down the middle seeing as they were missing their left guard and tackle as well as Centre Nick Hardwick. Jared Allen absolutely dominated replacement left tackle Mike Harris who has had a good training camp for an undrafted rookie. This has to worry the Chargers and Philip Rivers though as one of the main reasons the Chargers went on their six game losing streak was the injuries imposed on the offensive line. If this is the standard our backups are at then it is a big concern as the Chargers are bound to have one or two injuries on the offensive line in the season and Rivers will be feeling a lot of pressure.

Charlie Whitehurst unsurprisingly had a difficult game but under the circumstances seemed to cope reasonably well. The main disappointment for me was to see nobody step up and grab the backup running back job. With Ryan Mathews out the Chargers simply cannot afford to have their backs averaging two or three yards until Mathews returns. Edwin Baker managed to break out for one long run worth 21 yards but that was the only highlight of his game as he managed 14 yards off 12 carries discluding that run. No other back did anything special and it would appear Ronnie Brown will get the job despite only getting one run all game.

With Floyd and Meacham not being used a huge amount this preseason and particularly this week against the Vikings, the other receivers have been given the chance to impress the coaches in preseason. The one man who has stood out to me is punt return specialist Michael Spurlock who lead in recieving yesterday and also hasn't dropped a ball which has been thrown to him thus far. This could be very important as there is already an injury for Vincent Brown and he could well be needed in the regular season.

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