Welcome back to the snap report, a weekly feature where we look at the Chargers players involved in each offensive and defensive snap and track how players earn and lose playing time as the year continues. As always, these snap counts come from the NFL and the numbers are rounded to the nearest percent.
Week 14 against the Giants provided a nice change of pace for Chargers fans, as the Chargers took a 24-0 lead into halftime and went into cruise control for most of the second half. The Charger offense went 10-15 on third downs, while the defense put in another strong performance (back-to-back weeks!), limiting the Giants to 3-8 on third down and forcing three takeaways. Here are the offensive snap counts for Week 14:
The blowout allowed 21 Chargers to get offensive reps against the Giants, including extended handoff/kneel down practice for Charlie Whitehurst. He's got quite the form.
King Dunlap returned to the lineup and was a force in the running game yet again. In fact, PFF has Dunlap rated as the second-best run blocking tackle in the league for 2013. Dunlap's return allowed rookie D.J. Fluker to return to his position at right tackle, where he unfortunately had another rough day in pass protection, surrendering the Giants' only two sacks.
Ryan Mathews continued his strong season by carrying the ball a career-high 29 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. While this was likely dictated by the game situation, it is good to see the coaching staff relying on Mathews to effectively grind out the contest. The blowout also offered the chance for Willie Smith to make his Chargers debut at left tackle.
Now for the defense:
Speaking of debuts, Melvin Ingram hit the field for the first time in the 2013 season after suffering a torn ACL during the offseason. While Ingram (thankfully) saw limited snaps in his return, he did account for at least one big play as he and Reggie Walker combined to force a fumble from Andre Brown in the second quarter. The returns of Ingram and Jarret Johnson resulted in a deep linebacker rotation against the Giants, with nine linebackers receiving snaps. Hopefully this bevy of options at linebacker will allow John Pagano to keep Eric Weddle at safety. Weddle hasn't missed a defensive snap all year.
Kendall Reyes's ears must have been burning after last week's snap report, as he responded with his best performance of the season against the Giants in both rushing the passer and stopping the run. He'll need to continue that type of performance if he wants to hold off Lawrence Guy, who is having a very solid year.
With the news that Cam Thomas has lost his starting spot in the defensive line rotation to Sean Lissemore, perhaps this will light a fire under the defensive line for the rest of the season. They'll need all the inspiration they can get against the Broncos this week, whose line blocks a lot better for their Manning than the Giants.