NFL San Diego Chargers

5 Things to Watch for in San Diego Chargers’ Preseason Opener

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5 Things to Watch for in San Diego Chargers’ Preseason Opener

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With preseason action set to commence on Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks, the San Diego Chargers have several interesting areas of their roster that demand a closer look. And the question marks don’t cease there as fans will also be anxious to see how head coach Mike McCoy fares in his first game action roaming the sidelines as the leader of this football team.

Whether it is from a complete roster overhaul in the offseason or unforeseen circumstances that have arisen during training camp, there are some serious concerns with just how this San Diego team will mesh together in order to become a cohesive unit by September 9.

Both sides of the ball bear watching during this game as general manager Tom Telesco did his best to replenish the talent pool on the fly. Even though most believe he’s done an admirable job of that during his few months on the job, the proof comes when the guys get between the white lines and start hitting guys in a different colored jersey. Not until that transpires do the Chargers no for sure that they are on the right track to rebuilding from the past three years of mediocrity.

Veterans are not exempt from these lingering questions as the Bolts really saw some lackluster play from even some of their more seasoned players a season ago. How those guys perform when the lights are on and true game speed is on will determine just how far this squad has to go before it can consider itself a contender once again.

It was tough to whittle it down to just five items of concern heading into the preseason opener, but here are a handful of crucial areas to keep an eye on when the Bolts and Seahawks collide to begin the preseason.

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5. Offensive Line Configuration/Philip Rivers

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This may seem like it should be ranked a little higher given Philip Rivers’ staggering number of turnovers in the past two seasons or the line’s ineptitude last year, but this unit saw a serious overhaul in the offseason. There is real optimism coming from the coaching staff that the Bolts now have quality and depth all along the offensive front, and Rivers should have time to deliver accurate throws in the pocket. There isn’t a better test right off the bat than the Seahawks’ fearsome pass rush so it will be interesting to see if the San Diego O-line can keep Rivers clean.

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4. Ryan Mathews/Running Back Load

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Obviously the line will need to open holes for this guy as well, but even when he’s had open holes in recent years, Ryan Mathews has found a way to make the least of his opportunities. With Danny Woodhead now in town along with veteran Ronnie Brown, the heat is on for him to start performing up to his capability. Decisive runs through the hole and quick cuts rather than dancing around, pitter-pattering will be crucial to knowing what direction Mathews is heading in. Also remember he was injured on his first preseason carry a year ago with a broken clavicle, so hopefully that can be avoided as well.

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3. Secondary in Flux

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It often gets shoved under the rug, but this defense will have three new starters in the secondary out of four guys this year. Seeing how Derek Cox and Shareece Wright perform on the corners along with Marcus Gilchrist at safety and rookie Steve Williams in the nickel will be key to knowing what to expect from the Chargers defending the pass this season. There is reason for optimism given this unit’s overall youth, but that is also another cause for concern with their inexperience. Hopefully these guys show they can blanket receivers and help out the back-end of the defense.

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2. Pass Rushers

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That segues beautifully into another defensive concern which is the pass rush. Melvin Ingram’s minicamp injury really put a damper on the Bolts’ hopes for this unit, but Dwight Freeney and the unheralded Thomas Keiser could provide a spark to this group. Defensive coordinator John Pagano will likely go with a lot of vanilla defensive looks in the first preseason game, but seeing the individual talent out on the field will help to know what to expect as things progress. Here’s hoping this collection of guys can come into their own, and Larry English can finally show what he’s capable of this season.

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1. Wide Receiver Depth

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This question didn’t exist just a couple of days ago, but now that Danario Alexander is out for the year with a torn ACL, the Chargers are forced to reevaluate the receiver position. Thankfully there is some quality depth behind him with Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal, rookie Keenan Allen, and the biggest question mark of them all, Robert Meachem. This group has potential to be a real strength this season, but Rivers really only has a rapport established with Floyd out of this fivesome. Alexander and Rivers were on the same page frequently last season, so someone from this group has to step up and show that they are someone the man under center can count on during the season.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.