Friday, 24 August 2012

NFL Pre-Season Week 3: Chargers 12, Vikings 10

Well, here's to the Chargers racking up meaningless wins.  They are now undefeated in exhibition season,  pulling out a last-second win against the Vikings on the strength of a Nick Novak field goal.  Both he and Nate Kaeding went 2-for-2, with Nate nailing a 54 yarder.

The Chargers chose to sit out Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Eddie Royal, and Chuck Muncie and Charlie Joiner I guess.  There was nobody on the field I recognized, except Malcom Floyd once or twice, and Jeromey 'Turnstile' Clary.

Charlie Whitehurst was a trooper while playing behind a patchwork O-Line, with rookie 7th rounder David Molk playing centre instead of injured Pro Bowler Nick Hardwick, undrafted free agent rookie left tackle Mike Harris playing instead of 'injured' Jared Gaither, who's trying to replace the retired Pro Bowler Marcus McNeill, and free agent Rex Hadnot, who was playing instead of the injured Tyronne Green, himself trying to make up for the loss of retired Pro Bowler Kris Dielman.  That's quite the patchwork.  And quite the comedown, going from a line with three Pro Bowlers on the same side to a line with three scrubs who came close to being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Jared Allen led the way with two of six sacks.  He made Mike Harris look clearly out of his element.  Mr. Harris worked hard, but surrendered clear lanes to the QB, was called for a hold and a false start, and generally makes us think back to the last few seasons when we were quite comfortable with our O-Line, and snickered when teams would reach for project or questionable left tackles in the first round (I'm looking at you, Bengals and Andre Smith).  We're going to be one of those clown teams next year.  And we miss you Marcus.  Terribly.

The defense had a so-so game, in that they yielded quite a lot of yards and first downs, but they did come up with four turnovers, and only yielded a late touchdown when the scrubs were on.  I'll take it.  Tack on a sack by first-round pick LB Melvin Ingram, another by second-round DE Kendall Reyes, and two from oft-injured 2009 first round pick Larry English, who is overdue to start delivering, plus a final one from Jarret Johnson, and we have something to look forward to on that side of the ball.

Melvin Ingram, the man-child expected to restore our pass rush so we can get off the field on third downs, gave us a scare when he went down with a thigh bruise in the third quarter.  It was hard not to think of Ryan Mathews and Vincent Brown when he crumpled and clutched at his leg.  He should be day-to-day to return.

Another worry to add to our list is that Quentin Jammer sat out the game after injuring his hamstring during warmups.  We can hope it's just a strain or tightness, instead of a pop, but we really don't have any depth in our secondary, so we can't afford to lose our starting cornerback.

Unlike other seasons, there's no Scott Tolzien or Bryan Walters this year, a dark horse fan favourite to make the team.  Is it because the high draft picks, the guys who are supposed to have our attention, are finally producing?  Or is it because we have other fish to fry?

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