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Chargers vs. Vikings (Preseason): Five Non-Starters To Watch

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Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst #6 of the San Diego Chargers connects with wide receiver Mike Willie #83 on a 38 yard touchdown pass.
Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst #6 of the San Diego Chargers connects with wide receiver Mike Willie #83 on a 38 yard touchdown pass.

Here's the San Diego Chargers injury list as we current know it:

Player Injury
Ryan Mathews Collarbone
Vincent Brown Ankle
Antonio Garay Ankle
Nick Hardwick Concussion
Eddie Royal Groin
Jared Gaither Back
Brandyn Dombrowski Foot

We can be pretty sure that none of these guys will be playing against the Vikings tonight, and last night the Chargers announced that they were going to be careful and sit Philip Rivers as well. Michael Gehlken tweeted out last night that Tyronne Green is expected to sit (which was probably the final straw for Rivers sitting). Just about everyone else should be expected to suit up.

After the jump, we'll take a look at which non-starters you should be keeping an eye on during the game.

David Molk

The news that Molk is getting the start in place of injured Hardwick is huge. It's the first real sign of who is winning the backup job between him and second-year Colin Baxter. Both guys have fans within the locker room and the coaches' office, and both will get plenty of snaps against the Vikings. Molk, however, will be the one with the opportunity to show that he can hold his own against starting defensive linemen.

Jackie Battle

Battle is still competing with Curtis Brinkley for that final RB spot. The team already knows what they have in Brinkley, so expect Battle get plenty of chances to showcase his skills as a runner.

Charlie Whitehurst

When Charlie was traded to the Seahawks, he was excited at the opportunity to start. Unfortunately, in two seasons he got just four starts in an offense that seemed unorganized, at best. If he's ever going to become a starter, and if he's ever going to get a big money contract, it's going to be after the two-year deal he signed with the Chargers this offseason.

Now, Philip Rivers doesn't get hurt often, so Charlie is going to have to impress in the preseason (which he did last week). A shot like this, where he's playing with a lot of first-stringers against a lot of first-stringers, is about as good of a shot as he could ask for. Look for him to have a big game.

Mike Willie and Taylor Embree

Name the number of Wide Receivers that you're certain will make the San Diego Chargers active roster when final cuts are made next week. Did you get past three? Then you really like Micheal Spurlock, as do I. Four WRs on the roster would be a little thin for any team. For a team with Malcom Floyd, not to mention a banged up Eddie Royal, it's foolishness. This team will need to carry at least 5 WRs, even if they're carrying 4 TEs.

Call me crazy, but I think Mike Willie is in the lead for that final spot. The competitors are:

  • Mike Willie (R)
  • Roscoe Parrish
  • Taylor Embree (R)
  • Phillip Payne (R)
  • Jason Barnes (R)

If Parrish wins out, which is a possibility, it's because his skills as a Punt Returner can take some of the load off of Eddie Royal's back while he recovers.

Willie and Embree have been the two most impressive receivers in that group. Embree is a little faster, a little longer and might have better hands and instincts. Willie, on the other hand, looks like he already has "an NFL body" and seems to run good routes. Willie has also made a few headlines for himself by running his mouth and catching a big TD from Charlie Whitehurst last week. That kind of confidence might be a turn-off for some fans, but many coaches look for that in a young rookie as a sign that the guy won't crumble under the pressure.

Those two young receivers will be looking for more ways to build up their stock, and they'll probably get some time with Whitehurst as receivers like Floyd and Meachem get pulled quick (it's not like they really need to strengthen their chemistry with Whitehurst).