The Chargers start off the 2019 preseason with a unique challenge as they take on the Arizona Cardinals and true dual-threat QB Kyler Murray. It will be a good test for this defense, especially the Linebacker unit, that the coaches have been touting as fast and athletic all offseason.
So, with that in mind, who are we going to be watching closest while the defense is on the field?
Jason Michaels: I just hope they hold their own. I want to see true depth, as we relied on it for freak injuries last year and when that depth ran out had to run 6+ DB’s on the field.
Garrett Sisti: A few of the Day 3 rookies will be fun to watch defensively. Drue Tranquill has some athleticism and I’m curious to see which linebacker spot they line him up at because he’s seen time at all three positions. Emeke Egbule flashed some pass rush moves in camp and we’ll see how he does as the backup SAM. Cortez Broughton will get some significant snaps in the interior since Tillery has been ruled out for Thursday, Cortez has some exciting traits.
Ruben Gonzalez: I wanna see me some Melvin Ingram. I have a sneaky suspicion that he is going to have an All-Pro year. This defensive roster is as stacked as we’ve ever seen it and that’s going to leave Mel the ability to rush from everywhere. It would be nice for him to give Kyler Murray his welcome to the NFL moment as well.
Mike Murray: On Defense its the LB group. We got just a small taste of White last year and I am anxious to see him blossom into our best LB. And I want to see this energy that Davis is going to bring to the field.
Matthew Stanley: I think it has to be the LB group for me. Nassir Adderly and Jerry Tillery are ruled out so I’m going to be watching the Linebackers. Due to injuries that group got gutted last year. This year they get Denzel Perryman and Kyzir White back AND they added some exciting rookies in Drue Tranquill and Emeke Egbule. White, Tranquill and Egbule are athletic enough that they could give a similar feel as those 7 DB packages from last year, just with bigger bodies. Of course, FS is also going to get a long look.
Nate Lewkowitz: With Adderley not suiting up Thursday, there is a higher and higher chance he may not be the week one starter unless he’s fully back for the rest of preseason. Since this position has a history of not shaking up the depth chart when there are more capable backups, I’m looking at Rayshawn Jenkins. His college career was spent playing the SS spot, and this year is his first offseason training for the transition to FS he made at the end of last season.
Jamie Hoyle: I’m legitimately excited to watch the linebackers on Thursday, mainly because I want to get good, long looks at Kyzir White, Drue Tranquill and Emeke Egbule. I’m just excited to see those three fly all over the field and make plays, they possess and athleticism and range we aren’t accustomed to seeing from Chargers linebackers in recent years.
Richard Wade: I just want to see the linebackers. There are so many interesting combinations that Gus Bradley can throw out on the field and I want to watch what they can do. Drue Tranquill in particular is someone I’m hoping we get a long look at.
Michael Peterson: I’m going to be stuck to the linebacker rotation and how some of the back-up defensive linemen look after being in the league for another year. Guys like Patrick Afriyie and Justin Jones. Also excited for Drue Tranquil to push Dzubnar off the team once and for all.