QB Philip Rivers (Joe Robbins/Getty)
Training camp is here and SDBoltReport.com has got you covered. Samantha Fillerup kicks things off by identifying the story lines worth watching on the offensive side of the ball. From the development of three sophomore pass-catchers to the health two Pro Bowlers, we have every angle covered.
Timing Is Everything
This is the first training camp Philip Rivers and Chris Chambers have together. Chambers instantly proved his value last season, catching multiple passes in every game, and looks to build on that performance. The Rivers-Chambers duo has already missed valuable time during the off-season with Rivers limited by the lingering effects of knee surgery, so there is still some ground to be made up.
"He's making great progress," said Norv Turner of Rivers. "Obviously, we're being very careful with him and limiting some of the things we're asking him to do."
It's Better to Receive
While Chambers and Vincent Jackson hold the starting receiver spots, Buster Davis and Legedu Naanee will fight for whatever scraps they leave behind (read more). Davis, a 2007 first-round pick, is the more accomplished player, but the versatile Naanee came on strong in the second half of last season.
"The good thing about having Buster is that he adds energy and is able to contribute," Turner said. "The thing I take the most pride in is the development of young players."
Remove the Cloak of Invisibility
Scott Chandler spent his rookie season buried on the depth chart, stuck behind the NFL's best pass-catching tight end, Antonio Gates, and the League's best blocking tight end, Brandon Manumaleuna. This season, however, Chandler could be in the starting lineup on opening day due to Gates' slow-healing toe. Chandler's large frame (6'7", 265 lbs.) and soft hands make him a potentially strong replacement.
"I think Gates is going to be back and in there doing his thing," Chandler said. "But I want to be prepared if my time comes to be in there."
Center of Attention
Nick Hardwick is another of the walking wounded. His rehab from foot surgery is going well, but he is expected to miss the first month of the season. In the wake of his injury last season, Cory Withrow stepped in and played well. However, Withrow's wingman status was lost with the signing of Jeremy Newberry. The two-time Pro Bowler is the front-runner to start on opening day and has limited time to learn a new offense. Newberry will be held out of some practices to rest his rusty knees.
"He gets after it," OG Kris Dielman said. "He's not scared to pick up a fine here or there. He wants to win. Probably nobody is going to outwork him across from him."
Are These Rookie Runners Ready?
The Chargers replaced a pair of stalwarts in the backfield with rookies Jacob Hester and Marcus Thomas. Hester will contribute as a blocker, runner and receiver, while Thomas could see a few carries of his own. Even undrafted rookie Mike Tolbert could be in the mix if Andrew Pinnock is slow to bounce back from off-season microfracture surgery.
"It's going to be tough to replace Lorenzo Neal," Hester said. "He's one of the greatest fullbacks of all time. I'm not going to try to do what he did. I'm a little bit different of a player than him, so I'm just going to come in and do the best I can."
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