NFL San Diego Chargers

San Diego Chargers Training Camp: 5 Battles Worth Watching

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San Diego Chargers Training Camp: 5 Battles Worth Watching

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

From the front office to the players, the San Diego Chargers saw plenty of change this offseason. The A.J. Smith-Norv Turner era is over, and the team now has put their hopes in young Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy to right the ship and bring the team back to the playoffs.

Also young are the players. Sporting the NFL’s oldest roster in 2012, the Chargers said goodbye to many aging veterans, many of whom were starters. Fighting for their places are recent draft picks of the Chargers, who are ready after waiting their turns, as well as free agent acquisitions looking for a fresh start. In training camp, these players will get their opportunities to seize starting jobs and make their mark in the NFL.

Competition on a young team can certainly bring out the best of the players. However, the Chargers lack depth at certain positions to the point that there really won’t be much realistic competition. Other positions, however, have plenty of young, talented players and will make for some very interesting camp battles.

While so much change can be scary, it will definitely provide a fresh start in San Diego. The Chargers weren’t going anywhere with their aging roster and have used this offseason to rebuild with youth. Though there will surely be some growing pains early in the season, the players will only get better with experience and can grow together as a team.

Without further ado, here’s a look at five training camp battles that will kick off the Chargers’ rebuild.

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Offensive Line

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When you have as much turnover along the offensive line as the Chargers did, no job is secure. Nick Hardwick is guaranteed to be back at center and rookie first-round pick D.J. Fluker will certainly be a starter (either at right tackle or guard) but the rest is still unsure. Left tackle Max Starks was brought in to protect Philip Rivers’ blindside, but he’ll have to hold off a younger, more athletic King Dunlap, who’s actually probably the better pass blocker. At guard, it’s anyone’s guess who will start with Chad Rinehart, Jeromey Clary, Rich Ohrnberger and Johnnie Troutman all the in mix.

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Wide Receiver

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The Chargers have a plethora of talented wide receivers, but there may not be enough playing time to go around. Danario Alexander should return as the No. 1 wideout if healthy, but everything else is up for grabs. Malcom Floyd has been solid throughout his career, but he’s had difficulty staying healthy and will get serious competition from talented youngsters Vincent Brown and rookie Keenan Allen. If Brown and Allen fail to unseat Floyd, they could still push Eddie Royal for the slot. Even Robert Meachem has a chance to be in the mix.

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Backup Tight End

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The Chargers need to begin thinking about life after Antonio Gates, and the team could definitely use some solid backups in case he gets injured again. John Phillips was brought in and is the favorite to be the No. 2 tight end, working as a blocking tight end and occasional receiving threat. However, Ladarius Green and Dallas Walker are also in the mix, and are likely competing for the same roster spot. One may assume that Green, a fourth-round pick in 2012, wouldn’t be at risk of losing his roster spot so early, but Walker impressed the Chargers so much they signed him to a three-year deal this offseason. Both Green and Walker are raw, athletic freaks with similar builds, so it’ll be interesting who makes the final cut.

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Strong Safety

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Many believe Brandon Taylor is the future starter at strong safety, but he’s still recovering from a late-season torn ACL. Though he hopes to be back in time for training camp, he won’t be 100% and will have to play catch-up with the guy who could take his place, Marcus Gilchrist. Gilchrist, a converted cornerback, has the versatility to play both positions, but could actually be better suited for safety. But don’t count out Darrell Stuckey either. If Taylor isn’t ready to return, the special teams ace could get a shot in training camp too.

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There’s no doubt Derek Cox will be the Bolts’ top corner, but the No. 2 cornerback spot is Shareece Wright’s job to lose. Wright hasn’t played much in the first two seasons, but will immediately be promoted to starter. If he struggles, Johnny Patrick and rookie Steve Williams could push for his job. If Wright manages to hold them off, Patrick and Williams will compete for the open nickel corner job. In today’s pass happy NFL, the nickel corner position sees plenty of playing time and is pretty much a starting job, so it’s still a solid consolidation prize.

Kevin Chan is a San Diego Chargers writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.