San Diego Chargers: Position Battles Mostly Wrapped Up

Aug 24, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Novak (9) runs to celebrate his 45 yard field goal to defeat the Minnesota Vikings as time expires while punter Mike Scifres (5) holds up his arms at the Metrodome. The Chargers win 12-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

As you are aware, I've been doing my best to keep you guys informed every step of the way as far as the 2012 San Diego Chargers position battles have gone. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there hasn't been a whole lot of unpredictable movement. Now, with just one meaningless game left to go, it would appear that these are mostly wrapped up.


(Temporary) Running Back

Curtis Brinkley vs. Jackie Battle

With the way that the team handled Brinkley with kid gloves for the Vikings game while letting Battle run his way into the back of a terrible offensive line, I'm assuming the team has decided that Brinkley is the way to go. It's not all that surprising, as Curtis is the only one behind Ronnie Brown that can be an effective receiver out of the backfield. Battle can be "replaced" by Le'Ron McClain and Jacob Hester.


Back-Up Right Tackle

Mario Henderson vs. Anthony Davis

These guys are incredibly similar to one another. Both of them have essentially been out of the league until this training camp. They both have roughly 30 NFL starts to their credit. They both have experience at Left Tackle.

The big difference, as far as I can tell, is that Henderson is 5 years younger and has been on the radar of this coaching staff for years as an Oakland Raider. With Jeromey Clary always being viewed as a possible weakness on the line, Henderson (who is a year younger) could possibly work his way into a long-term replacement at RT.

Davis can't offer that. He's just a veteran at the end of his career and, no matter how well he plays in this preseason, he can't change that. That's why I think Henderson, who hasn't been noticeably good or bad (but neither has Davis), has this job locked down.


Kicker

Nate Kaeding vs. Nick Novak

The Chargers only needed two questions answered to figure out who was going to win this battle.

Is Nate Kaeding still incredibly effective? Yes.

Did the injury hurt Kaeding's already-weak leg strength? No, it seems to have somehow strengthened his leg more.

Kaeding wins.


Back-Up Tight End

Randy McMichael vs. Dante Rosario

The winner of this competition has become mostly irrelevant. Rosario has proved himself to be a valuable receiver and an adequate blocker. McMichael has proven the same, and he has been here before. Both guys stay, unless something shocking happens, and both get a lot of snaps.

I think McMichael retains the "Number Two" spot as the guy who gets Gates' minutes should Antonio reinjure his foot, but that's mostly because he's done nothing to lose his job.


Nose Tackle

Antonio Garay vs. Aubrayo Franklin

Have you noticed that I've started cutting a few names out of these competitions? The latest one being Cam Thomas, who the team seems content to have as a backup but doesn't want to lose either.

Garay was unimpressive last year, but Don Johnson knows the type of player he's capable of being with the right cast around him. Franklin was given a shot to impress, and did enough to convince the team that he should be in the rotation.

Like the TEs, this will be a fairly balanced rotation. However, it looks like the season will start with Garay manning the NT spot and looking to hold onto it as long as possible.


Strong Safety

Atari Bigby vs. Brandon Taylor

The season hasn't started yet and we're already at the place we've feared. Many fans are crying out that Melvin Ingram should be starting over Jarret Johnson (not happening), and some other ones are quietly suggesting that Taylor should be getting the starting SS snaps.

There's certainly a case to be made. Taylor looks like an all-around, play-making SS, while Bigby looks like a big-hitter that will create as many fumbles as he gives up long plays through the air. Bigby will get his shot because the team has been dying for a big-hitter since Shawne Merriman left. If that doesn't work out so well, Taylor is an easy fit.

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