The start of every NFL season brings with it players who either have something to prove or in some cases are playing for their jobs. 2013 will be no different, and for the San Diego Chargers, the list is a bit longer than usual for a team coming off of its third consecutive season without a playoff appearance. Some of these names will be more obvious than others, but clearly these guys are all on the spot in the coming year for the Bolts.
Philip Rivers —- It really is hard to believe that Rivers is 31 years old and has already been the man under center for seven years as a starter in San Diego. After the torrid start that he got off to following in the footsteps of Drew Brees, the last three years have been a disappointment to say the least. Turnovers have plagued Rivers, particularly in the past two seasons where he had 27 and 28 respectively. This is a huge year for the veteran leader under the tutelage of new head coach Mike McCoy. His numbers must improve and the team needs to show some serious progress in the win-loss column, or he may not be in San Diego for much longer.
Marcus Gilchrist —- This one isn’t as obvious as the others, but Gilchrist will likely be thrust into unfamiliar territory in 2013. His playing time increased marginally in 2012, but this season will see a huge bump for the former second round pick. Both starting corners in Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason are gone which means free agent signing Derek Cox and Gilchrist will likely see the most action as starters. After playing mostly in a nickel role during his first two seasons, this will be a critical transition for Gilchrist to step up and show he is ready to be a full-time starter in year three.
Melvin Ingram —- It’s hard to say a second year player has something to prove, but Ingram was taken 18th overall a year ago and that comes with certain expectations. His playing time increased in the latter half of 2012, and hopefully that springboards him into the upcoming season with a positive outlook. Just one total sack in his rookie campaign was definitely discouraging for a player some were forecasting as the defensive rookie of the year. This year needs to see some serious improvement from the relentless pass rusher with Shaun Phillips no longer on the team.
Larry English —- It almost seems past the point of trying with English as he enters his fifth season. There has been little to no improvement in his game since he was selected 16th overall in 2009, and there is no doubt that this will be a make of break year for him. His eight and a half career sacks are embarrassing for a former first round pick, but health has been a big issue for English. He managed to play in 14 games in 2012, and that number must increase if he wants any hope of remaining with the Bolts beyond this season. Even that probably won’t be enough to warrant a roster spot for an injury-prone player that has never really shown much promise.
These guys aren’t just critical to the Chargers’ success in the coming season; this year will be a crucial year in each of their respective careers. San Diego needs the best that they players have to offer in 2013 in order to guarantee their presence beyond this season. The NFL is a put up or shut up league, and it’s time for all of these guys to start producing.