The Los Angeles Chargers put together a fairly solid win on the road over the winless Houston Texans in week 4. The team is still dealing with some injuries to some big names and as such we saw some names from further down the depth chart getting some meaningful snaps again.
The big one is right there at the top. Jamaree Salyer got the start at left tackle this week. When Rashawn Slater went down with an injury in week 3, Storm Norton, who was the team’s swing tackle and the “next man up” on the depth chart and from an experience standpoint, finished out the game at left tackle. He got worked over by the Jaguars pass rush. Early in the week the coaching staff decided they wanted to see what their other options were and announced that rookie 6th round pick Jamaree Salyer was going to get the start. Their faith in him was rewarded. Not only did Salyer play all 70 snaps on offense, on the 41 pass blocking snaps, Salyer surrendered 0 pressures according to PFF. This is an EXTREMELY encouraging start for the rookie and a reason to have some hope that maybe things won’t completely crumble in Slater’s absence.
Returning to the lineup after missing 1.5 games with injury was Corey Linsley at center. Corey came back and played 100% of the snaps, and his impact was definitely seen with the quality of blocking the Chargers displayed this week.
With Keenan Allen still out and Jaylen Guyton out for the rest of the season, the Chargers had some new names active at wide receiver and preseason fan favorite Michael Bandy was active and saw the field for 29% of the snaps and caught both of his 2 targets for 49 yards. With Guyton done for the year, there was a question as to what the team would do with the WR5 spot and between the preseason production, his receiving performance this week, and the fact that he went out and got a special teams tackle as well, I think the team might keep Bandy on the active roster rather than dropping him and trying to get him back on the practice squad.
The running back position got a lot of scrutiny during the game as Joshua Kelley and Austin Ekeler were looking pretty effective and getting in a decent rhythm but in the 2nd half of the game, Kelley got 0 carries and only 1 target. Meanwhile, Sony Michel got 0 touches or targets in the first half but finished the game with 6 carries and 3 targets in the pass game. It was strange to see them bail on Kelley and we never really heard anything that said he got hurt.
The Chargers had to make some changes with Joey Bosa on IR. In the first full week with no Bosa, they handled his absence by playing Kyle Van Noy at edge a bit more which lead to him playing the highest percentage of snaps in a game so far this season at 61% (he averaged playing 49% of the snaps through the first 3 weeks). They also had newly signed Derrek Tuszka play 16% of the snaps, all out on the edge.
Another interesting change was Drue Tranquill was on the field for 100% of the snaps this week. The closest an ILB has come to playing that much of the game this season was Tranquil playing 84% back in week 2. It will be interesting to see if he continues to play that much going forward with Van Noy and possibly Kenneth Murray getting some snaps on the edge.
Alohi Gilman as the third safety continues to play very little. This is something we could see change with either Gilman getting more snaps or possibly starting to see 3rd round pick JT Woods getting some snaps on defense as Nasir Adderley has struggled so far this season and has been responsible for giving up some big plays.
The most interesting occurrence in this section is that Michael Davis played exclusively on special teams with J.C. Jackson returning to the lineup. This happened in week 2 when Jackson last played as well, so it is definitely looking like Staley prefers to bring on a 3rd safety in Dime packages and use a safety as the fourth “CB” in those alignments.