By all accounts it’s been a good early preseason for the San Diego Chargers. This past Friday they finished their ninth day of training camp with very few injuries. Saturday the team held their annual open to the public fan fest with a record 18,000 fans attending the event at Qualcomm Stadium. Although the 18,000 was dwarfed by the fan attendance for similar events in other NFL cities (67,000 in Green Bay!), the attendance is indicative of the excitement from the fan base and the progress that General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Mike McCoy have made in the last two seasons to rebuild the Chargers franchise. Those attending Saturday got a glimpse of a Chargers team that should contend once again for the playoffs in a touch AFC West due to a solid offseason that saw continued improvement had problematic positions for the club last season, like cornerback.
The Chargers open the preseason on Thursday, August 7th when they host the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium. The opener with Dallas, who has one of the most passionate fan bases in the NFL and trains north of Los Angeles, should create a fantastic atmosphere for the opener. The key for the Chargers in the upcoming season is keeping the momentum they finished the year in 2013. The Chargers won their final four regular season games to finish the season 9-7 and then defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round before losing to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Playoff round. This offseason they improved the overall depth of the roster while keeping the veteran core intact.
It’s unlikely the Chargers face Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on Thursday night in the preseason opener. After offseason back surgery the veteran Dallas Cowboys quarterback has slowly eased into the preseason, playing in roughly half of the practices. According to the Dallas Morning News the Cowboys plan to sit Romo in the first and last preseason games, limiting his chance for re-injury while giving him further time to recover. Even without Romo the Cowboys will bring a roster full of well known players, including receiver Dez Bryant, tight end Jason Witten and running back Demarco Murray.
For Chargers the preseason opener will be an opportunity to see some of the new players the Chargers added via the draft and free agency in a game situation for the first time. This includes cornerback Brandon Flowers, a former Pro Bowler, who the Chargers signed after Flowers was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs for salary cap reasons. Flowers will be joined in the Chargers secondary by the Chargers first overall pick, Jason Verrett out of TCU. Verrett is a talented but undersized corner, who should find a home as the Chargers third corner. Offensively the Chargers will have solid cohesiveness heading into this season, with the offensive line and receiving core returning. Malcom Floyd will be back from injury this season and should start alongside Keenan Allen, the best rookie receiver in football last season. Donald Brown, who the Chargers acquired from the Indianapolis Colts in free agency, will give the Chargers quality depth at running back.