Although the depth of the Chargers' roster has improved since last season, it is still an area of concern. The players who now appear to be on the roster bubble could be playing before you know it. Here is who I will be keeping a close eye on throughout the preseason:
Troutman played well for stretches of 2013, and very poorly during others. He mainly excelled as a run blocker, showing the ability to get to the second level and finish blocks. He struggled much more in pass protection, sometimes not being able to pick up his assignment on a blitz. His errors are mostly mental, so there is a chance of a turnaround.
With Jeromey Clary recovering on the PUP list, rookie Chris Watt has been taking most of the first-team snaps at right guard. This is a bad sign for Troutman, who is in his third season and could even be cut Clary returns. This preseason could be his final shot to show that he can provide valuable depth on the offensive line.
Even as a fifth-round rookie, the Charger fans probably would have got a long look at Williams last year. Depth in the secondary is about as important as depth anywhere else on the roster (other than QB, obviously). With the amount of nickel defense play nowadays, the fourth cornerback is basically an injury away from being a starter.
That is why I will be watching Steve Williams. San Diego added depth with Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers, but the latter has been underwhelming in practice and both have been limited with injuries. Williams has been drawing rave reviews in training camp and I am excited to watch him play live. He will play a much larger role in 2014 than many realize.
Yay! The third-string quarterback! Not thrilling, I know. However, I always like watching young QB's play in the preseason, especially since it will be his only chance (Philip Rivers hasn't missed a game since what, 7th grade?).
This selection is mainly based on the fact that I do not think the team should carry 3 quarterbacks on the 53 man roster. An extra offensive lineman or special-teamer will pay off much more than someone who will never even be active. The idea is that hopefully Sorensen is good enough to be the team's only reserve QB in 2014 and beyond, providing a cheap and roster friendly alternative to a veteran.
Reese is a guy I am rooting for to make the final roster. Sure, he needs a lot of polishing, but that is to be expected from a 7th round rookie. The bottom line is, the guy can fly. Reese is the kind of player that can actually make the preseason fun to watch. Get him in there against the second or third team defense and let it fly. If he can make a big play or two (on offense or special teams), that might be enough to get him on the final roster.
Another rookie who fits the bill as "raw", Attaochu may have a tough time seeing snaps in 2014. For the Chargers, that is perfectly fine. The team is no doubt happy with the depth at outside linebacker, but with aging veterans Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson, the all-time sack leader at Georgia Tech will play a prominent role in the defense soon enough.
That is the good thing about the preseason . The Chargers haven't had major production at OLB since Shaun Phillips was in his prime, so it is nice to have an exciting rookie around. I am not looking for Attaochu to rack up the sacks in preseason games, and it doesn't matter that he will probably be going up against second-team defenses. What I am looking for is the burst. How quick is he off the snap? How fast can he get around the edge? Can he keep the offensive lineman on their heels? All of the technical parts of rushing the passer (hand use, etc...) can be picked up in time (and who better to teach him than Freeney himself). Attaochu seems like the player who will be willing to put in the work to improve, but right now I'm simply looking for the explosion and potential.
Who will you be watching this month?