Hard Wonks is my reality show about Chargers Training Camp. I started this series by mocking up a reality segment about the defensive backs. That featured a showdown between Antoine Cason, Darrell Stuckey, Steve Gregory, Nathan Vasher, Donald Strickland, Paul Oliver and C.J. Spillman to what amounts to 7 or 8 roster spots. Today's mock reality show segment will feature another contentious set of position battles that's even more up in the air than the last, but with less starting positions to fill. I also add in a wild card to the mix that maybe doesn't come to mind when you're talking about the position battles, but it's important for my reality show to have this guy since he has star power and he's a big part of the team.
My mission statement remains the same. I'm looking at the same camp battles that everyone talks about because that where stuff gets real. And I'm now down to two of three position groups I teased in Part 1 that have distinct similarities. As a refresher here's what they are again. First, they've all had a former Pro Bowl player leave or hold out. Second, and this kind of goes along with the first, they all have openings at key positions. Third, we have too many of them with decent chances of making the roster. The first point is what shines the spotlight in its direction. The second point makes the these position groups mean something once the season start. And the third point brings what we all want to hear about in training camp: Drama.
Today we focus on the drama of the Wide Receivers.
Wide Receiver is one of the premier positions in the NFL. Only QBs and RBs are named Super Bowl MVP more than WRs. The top WRs get on SportsCenter with their touchdown dances and spectacular catches. They also get in the news with off-the-field antics. They are a strange breed. Their brain is constantly filled with thoughts of, "When is the next throw to me coming? Will it ever come? Throw me the damn ball!" The Chargers have some interesting choices regarding who'll get that damn ball. There's either 5 or 6 roster spots up for grabs, 2 of which are starting spots, 1 is for the important slot receiver position and there's also the potential to become a special teams contributor.
New York Giants followed by all his catches against the Jets. We'll say how he even made his first Pro Bowl in 2009 overlaying him running a route for the Pro Bowl team. Segway into his troubles starting with multiple shots of him kicking the flag and a shot of a courtroom (do we have one with him in court?) and then talk about his legal issues. Then we need a shot of him sitting on the bench on the sideline and while we give out the details of his holdout. We'll finish with something like, "The team now may need to move on.": We'll talk about how Jackson was a big part of the Chargers offense. Then we'll mix in a bunch of numbers and show many of the highlight reel jump balls and TD catches. Then, we can mention how he was even key at important moments in the season while showing the catch against the
Kassim Osgood:I'm sure we can just use tons of footage of him on special teams making great tackles and stopping the ball at the goal line. The narration will cover how he never got a shot at Wide Receiver, but was a fantastic special teamer and made multiple Pro Bowls. He's now in Jacksonville and the Chargers will look for a way to replace his special teams production. Perhaps from a young WR.
The Returning Champ
Malcolm Floyd: His story is how he's been with the Chargers a long time, but only became a starter this past season with the release of Chris Chambers. He'll need to step up into that number 1 role and play for his own contract. At the same time he may need to fill a leadership void with all these young receivers.
Charlie Joiner: No, he's not going to suit up for the Chargers, but that won't stop us from bringing up film from the good ol' days at Jack Murphy Stadium. Joiner is going to be an important part of Hard Wonks. He's in charge of coaching up these youngsters and his record in the NFL at doing so has been impeccable. There will be as many shots of him teaching as there will be of the other players (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but you get the point).
Legedu Naanee: We'll show a few clips of him catching bubble screens including the key ones vs. the Colts in the playoffs and one of him throwing. The narration will cover how he's been big in some key situations and he's been a sort of gadget receiver, but his role must increase this year. He could be asked to fill a starting spot opposite Malcolm Floyd and prove that he can be more than role player in this league.
Buster Davis: I think most Charger followers know how this goes. We show something that highlights that he was a first round pick and maybe some clips from his LSU days. Something else is shown to go over that he's had many injuries. Emphasize how long he's been with the team and how the rare times he's played he hasn't hurt his chances. Every first round pick comes into the league thinking he will be a starter at this level and this is Buster's chance.
Josh Reed: I'm not sure if there actually are any highlights from his Buffalo days (do Buffalo games even get televised anymore, do they even still play in Buffalo?). We'll mention how he was passed by the likes of Lee Evans and last year Terrell Owens and could never break through. Maybe the support from the Chargers front office, the motivation that comes from playing for a winner and Charlie Joiner's influence will tap into previously untapped potential?
Ernest Smith and Seyi Ajiritutu: The Chargers brought in two of what his been their prototype WRs. One from Baylor (Smith) and one from Fresno State (Ajiritutu). The both are big and go into the air to get balls. In all likelihood, only one makes the roster and maybe the Chargers can sneak another on the practice. Recent history dictates that the Chargers do covet these types of players and will want to keep them around.
Jeremy Williams: Williams is a player draft pundits saw as one that would get drafted, but instead fell through to the undrafted signings. Not surprisingly, he was considered one of the better UDFA signings. He's a fairly big WR, but not tall. He could be a slot guy and is probably competing with Buster Davis in that regard.
Richard Goodman and Bryan Walters: Both are longshots to make this squad. Both are undersized. One (Goodman) has a shaky past including a suspension because of an arrest where all charges ended up being dropped ,and the other (Walters) is probably at best a kick returner at this level. Either may be one of the first cuts in camp.
My Preseason Favorites:
With my reality show producer's hat off and my GM hat back on, here's who I have making the team. Who do you have?
Starting WRs: Floyd and Naanee
Slot WR: Buster Davis
Backups: Josh Reed, Seyi Ajiritutu and Ernest Smith
Practice Squad: Jeremy Williams