2011 San Diego Chargers Position Battles

I'm planning on eventually doing a post for each one of these battles later in camp, but for right now I thought it'd be useful to have a list of all of the position battles going on at Chargers Park. As a note, when I refer to a player as a "camp body" it doesn't mean they have no chance to make the team. It simply means that they are going to need a great camp, preseason and maybe a few injuries to go their way to make the team.

RB3 (Third-Down Running Back, Back-Up Running Back)

In the Running:
Brandon Sullivan
Jordan Todman
Curtis Brinkley

In the Lead: Jordan Todman

Camp Bodies: 
Frank Summers (FB)
Kenny Younger (FB)
Patrick DiMarco (FB)
Isaac Odim

Free Agents Still Available (that might fit):
Correll Buckhalter
Ricky Williams

Notes: Despite the fact that he's the smallest RB on the Chargers roster at the moment, everyone should take a look at the stats and awards Mr. Todman comes along with. In 2010, he ran for 1,574 yards on 302 carries (5.2 YPC)  and 14 rushing touchdowns. He was recognized as the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, was a Rivals and Sporting News 1st Team All-American, and an AP 2nd Team All-American. Long story short, this kid can run. That, along with his good hands and skills as a Return Specialist, gives him the inside track on the rest of the guys listed. The Chargers will likely not carry a FB behind Jacob Hester, because of Mike Tolbert's experience there, unless he an absolute dynamo on Special Teams.

WR3 (3rd Wide Receiver, Slot Wide Receiver)

In the Running:
Richard Goodman
Vincent Brown
Kelley Washington
Seyi Ajirotutu

In the Lead: Seyi Ajirotutu

Camp Bodies:
Adrian Cannon
Cameron Kenney
Vidal Hazelton
Bryan Walters
Travon Patterson
Giovanni Stanley

Free Agents Still Available (that might fit):
Malcom Floyd
Legedu Naanee
Mark Clayton

Notes: Each of the four guys in the running has a good chance to make the team, and they all easily could with an injury higher up on the depth chart. Floyd will probably get a better contract elsewhere. Naanee (who I believe I spotted at a Padres game on Wednesday) might not find a better landing spot, but the team might not want him back. I like the Clayton fit a lot, especially with Patrick Crayton and Vincent Jackson both facing free agency in 2012, because he still has starting potential. Don't overlook how solid Kelley Washington was when he needed to play WR in 2010, he's like a Malcom Floyd clone in terms of what he can do on the field.

 

TE3 (3rd Tight End)

In the Running:
Dennis Morris
Brad Taylor
Kory Sperry

In the Lead: Kory Sperry

Camp Bodies:
None (unless you count Morris and Taylor)

Free Agents Still Available (that might fit):
Brandon Manumaleuna
Desmond Clark
Brad Cottam

Notes: As I told jkvandal at practice yesterday, there's a reason Morris and Taylor are wearing numbers #45 and #46 and Sperry is sporting #82. The first two guys are essentially taller fullbacks, and Sperry's like a big WR. Sperry was also on the team last year, appearing in 7 games and catching 4 balls for 73 yards. The year before he was cut at the end of training camp with the Chargers, and eventually had a decent (but brief) stint as the Dolphins' TE (he even started 1 game). That means he has parts of three seasons (counting this one) in Norv Turner's system, and has the best hands of the TEs on the roster not named Antonio Gates or Randy McMichael. If Gates doesn't get healthy enough to start practicing with the team in a few days, I wouldn't be surprised to see Manumaleuna back in blue-and-gold.

 

RG (Starting Right Guard)

In the Running:
Louis Vasquez
Tyronne Green
Brandyn Dombrowski

In the Lead: Louis Vasquez

Camp Bodies:
None. Seriously. Everyone listed as a Guard on the Chargers Training Camp roster is going to make the team. That list includes Dombrowski, Scott Mruczkowski, Vasquez, Kris Dielman and Tyronne Green.

Free Agents Still Available (that might fit):
None that would be cheap enough.

Notes: This is going to be a strange battle. Vasquez has the most upside, but Green seems better at staying healthy. With the long-term signing on Jeromey Clary and the Steve Schilling draft pick, Dombrowski seems to have some pressure on him to have a good camp. If the coaches give him a chance at RG (where he played in 2009), he could catch up to Green and be in that group of "Talented guys waiting for Vasquez to get hurt again". More likely, though, is that he stays as the backup OT and Schilling goes to the practice squad.

 

RDE (Starting Right Defensive End)

In the Running:
Corey Liuget
Jacques Cesaire
Vaughn Martin

In the Lead: Corey Liuget

Camp Bodies:
Carl Ihenacho
Damik Scafe
Mike Blanc

Free Agents Still Available (that might fit):
Travis Johnson

Notes: Unfortunately, there's probably not enough room on the roster for Travis Johnson to return unless some of the DEs (including Luis Castillo and Ogemdi Nwagbuo) start getting seriously injured. Liuget and Cesaire are both not participating in practice yet, Corey due to contract negotiations and Cesaire due to the odd "Unrestricted Free Agents cannot participate in practice until a week before the first preseason game" rule. Martin looks to be taking advantage, but there's certainly a pecking order here. It's Liuget's spot unless he's really late, in which case it would go back to Jacques.

 

ROLB (Starting Weak-Side Outside Linebacker)

In the Running: 
Antwan Barnes
Travis LaBoy
Larry English

In the Lead: Antwan Barnes

Camp Bodies:
Darryl Gamble
Bront Bird

Free Agents Still Available (that might fit):
Matt Roth
Tully Banta-Cain

Notes: Barnes had an impressive 11 game run with the Bolts last year, showing himself to be a very dangerous pass-rusher off of the weak side. He'll get a chance to keep that spot, but don't sleep on LaBoy (who came to San Diego from Greg Manusky's 49er defense last season). That's a big guy who knows how to get to the Quarterback as well, and his knowledge of the defense could help him. English, as per usual, is working his way back from injury and not playing with the team yet, missing a good opportunity to impress the coaches for a few days before the UFAs are allowed to practice.

 

ILB (Starting "Mike" Inside Linebacker)

In the Running:
Jonas Mouton
Donald Butler

In the Lead: ???

Camp Bodies:
Kion WIlson
Jeremy Leman

Free Agents Still Available (that might fit):
Lofa Tatupu
Kirk Morrison

Notes: There's a handful of LBs on the Training Camp roster that are stuck in limbo between "In the Running" and "Camp Bodies" for these starting LB spots. Among them: James Holt, Andrew Gachkar and the included-above Kion Wilson. These guys could make the team for their Special Teams skills, but won't be starting any time soon. Morrison seems like a perfect fit for the Chargers, but the Jaguars are pushing hard to keep him. Mouton is a rookie and Butler went on IR before the first pre-season game in 2010 (his rookie year), so this is really a competition between unknown "rookies". Mouton, being the higher pick and having played football last season, would seemingly have the edge.

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