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Chargers Training Camp Battles - Offense

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Almost all of the San Diego Chargers starters and key back-ups can be readily identified at this point. Here's what to watch for starting on the 30th.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts seem to have most of the players figured out at the top and 2nd level of the depth chart, which is somewhat unusual.  What is not unusual is that there are many more men competing for open roster spots than there are actual openings.  Here's what to watch out for, starting July 30.

Quarterback

The only questions here are 2 or 3?  If 3, will that Brad Sorensen or Chase Rettig?  The Bolts could do worse with Clemens as a back-up to El Capitan.  If the Bolts decide to keep 3 QB's, Sorensen will probably have the edge since he has worked in a similar system with the team in 2013 and with Whisenhunt last year for a mercifully brief time in Tennessee.

Running Back

No real drama here.  Melvin Gordon, Branden Oliver, Donald Brown, and Danny Woodhead will all be Bolts and it is unlikely that the team keeps a 5th RB.  That is bad news for Jahwan Edwards and Dreamius Smith, the two UDFA backs that will get their chances in 2nd halves of games in August.

Wide Receiver

This battle for the 5th WR spot has already been covered in detail by some hack...  This camp battle may be the hardest fought, simply for the numbers of men involved and the qualities that they have as football players, competing for one roster spot and perhaps some practice squad openings.  The coaching staff will have its work cut out for it with this unit; deciding which of 4-6 players will be off the team before the games start to count will not be easy.

Tight End

In June, I looked at the Bolts depth chart and wondered ‘why do they have 8 TE's on this roster?'  Then the news on Gates came down...  The Bolts carried 4 TE's last season and there was speculation that David Johnson or John Phillips would act as H-backs or FB's in the Chargers offense.  That did not really happen and neither saw the field much, as the injury bug stayed away from the TE unit last season.

The numbers game really works against Brian Parker and Eric Frohnapfel, two UDFA's that seem to be camp bodies, but are practice squad eligible.  It is also not favorable to Kyle Miller and David Paulson; they have been in the league for a few years on practice squads and as camp bodies; neither is practice squad eligible.  Unless they show something special in August, this could be the end of the line for both of them.

Gates and Green make the final roster.  That leaves 6 guys to fight for two spots.  Johnson and Phillips probably have the inside track, but are certainly replaceable if the coaches see something they like from one or more of the other four.

Offensive Line

This is where some uncertainty exists; there are one or more back-up positions available and at the top of the depth chart, the right side of the line needs to get sorted out.  DJ Fluker and Joe Barksdale will be at the top of the depth chart, but which one is the RT and which one is the RG is to be determined.

For some peculiar reason, the preseason depth charts I have seen do not have either Barksdale or Fluker at Right Guard.  One has Kenny Wiggins listed as the starter.  Doubtful.  Another is the stuff of nightmares, continuing to list Johnnie Troutman as the starting RG.  Going into camp, the presumptive starters are (from left to right):

Dunlap-Franklin-Watt-Fluker or Barksdale-Barksdale or Fluker

The back-up situation as it stands now seems to be set for only two spots, swing tackle (Chris Hairston) and center (Trevor Robinson).  If the Bolts keep 8 O-linemen, it will be probably one more guard.

The team could keep Troutman as a back-up {shudder}.  Craig Watts was liked well enough to make it onto the practice squad last year; even being brought back after getting suspended for PED's.  Jeremiah Sirles filled in for Troutman once last season and looked OK.  Those three should have a camp battle royale in pre-season.  Watts and Sirles are practice squad eligible.

There are camp bodies, too.  Michael Huey and Ben Beckwith are going to have limited chances to impress in August and will need to make the most of them to continue getting paid for playing football in September.

And there are also camp bodies that play tackle.  Tyreek Burwell and Ben Beckwith are probably not long for this team, as there are four tackles on the roster that have played a lot more professional football than either of these UDFA's.

If the team wants to carry 9 O-linemen, they would probably want a 3rd string Center.  That does not look like the plan currently, as none of the players on the roster except for Watt and Robinson has any significant playing time in college or the NFL as a center.  Keep an eye out for late pre-season claims off of other team's scrap piles though.

Position Count So Far:

QB - 2

RB - 4

WR - 5

TE - 4

OL - 8

Total - 23