Before his season was lost to a torn ACL, Danario Alexander was listed as a starter on the San Diego Chargers' first depth chart of the season. Obviously, San Diego would like to see Alexander finish a season healthy after making such a large impact at the end of 2012, but they should certainly be able to get by without him.
As long as he is healthy, Malcolm Floyd will be a staple in the Chargers' offense and will be one of the starting receivers. Even with his injury woes, Floyd was rated Pro Football Focus' ninth best receiver over the last five seasons. Floyd will have to polish his route running skills to succeed in Mike McCoy's offense, which is based more on timing and precision rather than going for the deep ball, but he should start the season as the Bolts' number one receiver. The rest of the wide receiver position remains up in the air, however.
Here are the candidates to step up into the void left by Danario Alexander:
Brown flashed as a rookie in 2011 and again in the preseason of 2012 until a broken ankle cost him the rest of the year. Brown has been praised for his precise route-running skills by new head coach Mike McCoy and should be a much better fit now than in Norv Turner's offense. He is a prime breakout candidate this season.
Also riddled by injuries last year, Royal could get his chance to finally shine in San Diego. The former Bronco is a savvy route runner who will be playing under Mike McCoy for the second time. With flexibility to move from outside to the slot, he will try to use his explosiveness to recapture some of the magic from early on in his career. He got off to a hot start in his rookie year with Jay Cutler at quarterback, but failed to match the production with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow throwing to him. Maybe Philip Rivers will be able to bring out the best in Mr. Royal.
Many expected Keenan Allen to be selected in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, but a knee injury made teams nervous and he fell to the Chargers in the third round. A big, physical receiver with excellent route running skills, the rookie from Cal does a good job of getting open using his size and hands and could make a big impact early on in his career. He could get the starting job towards the end of the year and never look back.
Meachem may get a few more snaps as a result of the injury, but there is too much talent above him to think he will play a major role in 2012. A burner with excellent straight-line speed but not much else to offer, look for Meachem to be used mainly as a deep-ball specialist this season.