Jacob Hester (Donald Miralle/Getty)
The Chargers worked out some early kinks at Qualcomm on Saturday to post a 31-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. After trailing early in the first half, San Diego relied on some fresh-faced rookies to get the job done. Jacob Hester proved that not all rooks are wide-eyed and bushy-tailed as he looked the part of a veteran with a pair of end zone celebrations. Here’s what worked and what didn’t...
--While Lorenzo Neal left behind some mighty big cleats to fill, the rookie fullbacks proved they are up for the challenge.
Rookie free agent Mike Tolbert handled the football well, and turned a 1-yard run into a touchdown for the Chargers in the second quarter, but Tolbert would be overshadowed by his fellow rook Jacob Hester who stepped up in a big way on Saturday.
Hester ran in his first NFL touchdown on a 1-yard scuttle to the end zone. With Nate Kaeding getting the extra point, Hester managed to even out the game 7-7 for the Chargers and make a strong case for a starting role.
Hester not only registered a second touchdown later in the game, but he showed some spice when he knocked down linebacker Kevin Burnett only to be dog-piled by the rest of Burnett’s team. Hester finished off the day with a team-high 49 yards.
--Antoine Cason got his first look at a big league tackle on Patrick Crayton. He was able to wrap up a few playerss that others weren’t and light up the defense with a team-leading six tackles.
--While Darren Sproles’ performance was a bit outdone by the Hester show, Sproles tacked on a 5-yard touchdown to give the Chargers their first lead of the contest.
After registering career-bests last year, this is Sproles' season to get out of the “star of training camp” slump and get something happening on game day.
--Carlos Polk collapsed quarterback Brad Johnson’s pocket. The sack helped the Chargers force the Cowboys to make a 35-yard field goal, which kept the Chargers at a comfy 24-10 lead heading in to the half.
--Eldra Buckley earned 8 yards and a first down in the fourth quarter, but what really worked was that he didn’t go down on contact. Buckley is working on his second year of a two-year deal from 2007. Buckley came to San Diego as an undrafted rookie free agent.
--Chris Chambers may of single-handedly turned the Chargers passing game around last year, but rookie cornerback Mike Jenkins out of South Florida got the best of the veteran receiver. Jenkins was able to disrupt a pass from Philip Rivers and nearly earned the pick.
--The Chargers run defense followed the same suit of 2007. After finishing smack-dab in the middle last year (16th in yards per game, 107), San Diego allowed Dallas to pick up 111 yards on the ground. The Chargers defense watched rookie Tashard Choice prance into the end zone on an uncontested 19-yard run.
--Jamal Williams and Jacques Cesaire were credited with stuffing Marion Barber’s touchdown attempt in the first quarter, but it was a team effort blocking the premier back. Unfortunately, the Chargers were ineffective on the very next play in stopping Deon Anderson from putting the Cowboys on the board early. An impressive first quarter drive from the Cowboys made it a 7-0 ballgame.
--Antwan Applewhite who is making his second campaign at Chargers training camp, missed what was doled an easy interception, but he was able to get in front of the pass intended for third-year receiver Miles Austin.
On Saturday, Aug. 16 the Chargers head to St. Louis for what is the first of three NFC West matchups. The Rams are looking to see how quickly second-overall selection Chris Long can transform their defense. The Rams finished dead-last in their division last season by posting just three wins.