The Doctor Seuss "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" Award: Jason Verrett
Jason Verrett's season has been shortened by injuries. When he has been on the field he has been one of the best corners in the game, and that is not an exaggeration. He slipped to number 25 overall in the 2014 draft because of injury concerns and lack of ideal size, and Tom Telesco was happy to scoop him up. He has shown tremendous physicality, technique, instincts, as well as aggressiveness. His game-sealing interception was one of the finer Charger moments in recent history. His recent shoulder injury looks like it could keep him out for a while, but I look forward to him being fully healthy.
The "Buster English" Award: Melvin Ingram
The award for the player with the most unpolished talent who can't stay healthy is currently led by Melvin Ingram. Ingram is halfway through his third season but has only managed to see the field for 6 games since the 2013 season. He has more athletic ability and talent than the two players this award is named after, but he still needs time to refine his game. I am still holding out hope that he can become the player the Chargers expected when the selected him at number 18 overall, but then again he was drafted in 2012 by the old regime so time may be running out.
The "Venti Non-Fat Soy Vanilla Latte" Award: Donald Butler
Have you ever had a big cup of fancy coffee from Starbucks that costs $5.50 and thought, "Wow, this is kind of gross?" That is kind of the way I feel when I watch Donald Butler play football. Butler, fresh off of a contract worth up to 7 years and $48 million, currently leads the team in missed tackles and has been horrendous in coverage. I'm sure Tom Telesco is wishing he had stopped by McDonald's for a $1 cup of coffee instead of the expensive stuff, as a third-day draft pick would likely be playing at a higher level than Butler.
The "Benjamin Button" Award: Dwight Freeney
Antonio Gates' season that has already seen 7 touchdown receptions puts him in consideration for the award, but what he has done is not quite as impressive as Dwight Freeney. The aging superstar wasn't re-signed by the Colts following the 2012 season, and he sat on the market for a couple months. Aging pass-rushers typically face a steep decline, and after a season-ending quad injury in 2013 Freeney's future was in doubt. In spite of all that, he has come back strong as ever. He leads the team in overall QB pressures with 29. He is playing way too many snaps for an old man, and that is partially due to the injuries to the depth at OLB. In any case, Freeney's aging has seemed to reverse, which means we could be in for another 10 seasons or so of the future Hall-of-Famer.
The "Mr. Irrelevant" Award: Dontrelle Inman
A tight race here, with the award usually going to the backup QB. However, Kellen Clemens has managed to see the field for two plays. This award goes to receiver Dontrelle Inman. Inman has played for all of one snap on offense in 2014. He also has not recorded as much as a single special teams tackle although I am not even sure he sees the field then. It is probably a good sign of the health of the receiving corps that the #5 receiver hasn't seen, the field, but let's hope he can at least see a target or two this season.
The "Jeromey Clary" Award: Kendall Reyes
The award for the player who keeps his starting role despite being the worst player on the field goes to Kendall Reyes. It pains me to say this, because Reyes was one of my favorite players following his excellent rookie season, but he has just been a horrible player. He holds the team's lowest grade for both pass rush and run defense this season according to PFF. Is he being used poorly? Maybe. Whatever the case, every single defensive lineman on the roster has been playing better than the former Husky. It's time to cut back his snaps and hope he can find success as a pass rusher on 3rd down as a 3-technique defensive tackle.