After the Chargers Mini Camp they posted the jersey numbers for all eighteen players that were signed as free agents after going undrafted. These are training camp numbers for now, as some of their players would be required to change their number due to NFL Rules if they actually make the team.
shaynes41 posted and summarized radio interviews with AJ Smith and Ron Rivera. Can anyone remember a time when AJ Smith was so outwardly excited about a pick as he is with Vaughn Martin? The Merriman pick maybe? It's like he's 100% sure that he's made all the other GMs in football look like fools. I love that confidence because he wouldn't put it out there if he wasn't sure. I'd also love to get a defined list of which Chargers should be "on notice" and what that means. Both Rivera and Smith seem very excited about the rookies, which is always good to hear. I'm eager to see what Oliver can do in training camp. As a project safety, he should be at the point where he's ready to compete for the starters job.
We took a look at the impending training camp battle for the Inside Linebacker spot opposite Stephen Cooper. I find it interesting that there are good linebackers being released now and probably even more will be released during training camp, yet the Chargers jumped on the chance to sign an injury-prone, unproven linebacker and essentially give him the inside track on winning the starting job. To me it looks like a move to make sure Wilhelm no longer has to play a big part of the Inside Linebacker mix. Either that or AJ saw something in Burnett that he really liked. Either way I support it and am hopeful that we have our Inside Linebacker tandem of the future locked up.
I went ahead and created the Ryan Leaf Award and boy was this thing talked about everywhere. People hated the name (drop it already! do you think Colts fans still hate John Elway?), some fans disagreed with the nominees and others questioned my methods and merits (seriously). I thought it was fun. The one thing that almost everyone agreed on was that Matt Wilhelm was the most overpaid Chargers player in 2008. This doesn't mean that if we hold onto Wilhelm that the same will be true in 2009. Maybe he earns time on the field and is effective. Maybe he becomes a special teams monster. Perhaps he fills in for an injury and we see the 2007 Wilhelm instead of last year's version. Personally, this entire situation reminds me of Ben Leber. One or two good years with the Chargers and then regression afterwards. In Leber's case it was at least partially caused by a change in defensive scheme. Either way, he's found a home in Minnesota and a defense that he fits in well with. Maybe that's where Wilhelm is headed.
I asked the question to Chargers fans: Would you go to this year's Super Bowl if the Chargers were one of the teams playing? Considering how great SB Nation is at presenting its blogs with access to major events, I feel that I would probably be able to get in fairly easily if the Chargers were there. However, just like some of you responded, I feel that I might enjoy the game more surrounded by friends and family at home. I don't know, I'm torn. I'd be flying either way, either to Miami or to San Diego, to take in the game. The Super Bowl would be a shorter flight and I'd probably get a hundred great memories from it. So I think that's the way I'm leaning now. We'll see how I feel if it actually becomes reality.
shaynes41 took a good look at our Offensive Line depth chart and some upcoming training camp battles. I love these breakdowns and feel like they give me a real feel for everyone involved, not just the starters and immediate backups. Jeromey Clary, for all of his faults as a young offensive tackle, took the right tackle spot from Shane Olivea in 2007. Olivea was struggling but he probably would've been left in if the coaches didn't see something they really liked in the rookie right tackle. I think this is a big year for Clary. Progress could mean he's our right tackle for the next 5-10 years. Lack of progress and we have some players ready to take his spot as a starter.
We asked some tough questions about our AFC West divisional foe Kansas City Chiefs and received some great answers from the guys at Arrowhead Pride. I'll be the one to say what everyone is thinking: Considering the problems the Chargers have had with the Patriots, handing integral parts of that organization the keys to the Chargers divisional foes is a bit scary. If in 2-3 years we end up with two Patriots-like teams in our division it's going to make things a lot tougher than they have been in recent season. The initial reports are good ones. First off, Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis have been unable to duplicate that success so there's no reason to assume these guys will. Secondly, both teams are now working with young first-year coaches who have had fiery relationships with players which can be dangerous. Personally I think the Chiefs have a better chance of succeeding because they grabbed Pioli, who was a big part of building the Patriots roster by finding gems in the draft. However, I think McDaniels has a better chance at succeeding as a coach than Haley. So I'm hopeful this whole thing blows up and it's an easy road the Chargers one again, but if that's not the case I can still be an optimist. A tougher road through the season makes the team stronger for the postseason.
Do you have any thoughts about Bolts From The Blue? Any tips you want to send our way? Whenever you have something to say, don't hesitate to e-mail me directly.