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Mailbag Part 3: Ingram, Liuget and Te'o
Q: Do you think Corey Liuget is overlooked around the rest of the league as a great player like I do? – David Medina
A: Most definitely but I think that is changing though. For instance, when General Manager Tom Telesco was first hired, I asked if there was one player he scouted while he was with the Indianapolis Colts that he liked a lot that is on the Chargers, and before I finished my sentence he said Liuget. Corey is proving to be an elite defensive end that really excelled last year under Defensive Coordinator John Pagano. Many experts thought he deserved to be a Pro Bowler, and if the Chargers finished with a better record I think that could have been the case.
Q: Overall, what stands out the most from Manti Te'o so far during this offseason? Do you think he will have an impact on the field right away, or will it take time for him to develop into a starter? I hear that the teammates around him have been impressed so far with his work ethic, but does that really mean he is starter quality for Week 1? Thank you for your time. – Tommy H.
A: Before talking about Manti I think it’s worth talking about two of the guys who will have the biggest influence on him –John Pagano and Linebackers Coach Joe Barry. Pagano’s system appears to fit Te’o to a T, and in Barry you have one of the best – if not the best – linebacker coaches in the game. I hope fans aren’t overlooking how helpful that is for a rookie coming in. Now, what stands out about Manti right away has been how natural he looks. His football IQ has lived up to the hype; he has great instincts and doesn’t seem out of place at all. This is what his teammates have praised him for so far. I think you will see him be an impact starter beginning opening night vs. the Houston Texans.
Q: What’s the deal with Brandon Taylor? How’s his rehab going? When will he be back? – Gerald Baxter
A: I’ve gotten quite a few questions about Brandon Taylor, and I’d love to give you guys an answer, but the Chargers haven’t given an update on his progress or when he will be back, and I’m not going to speculate on a player’s rehab or health. Now that’s not saying it’s going poorly, but we have not received an update. Being that this has been a popular question, I will let you guys know as soon as I can get an update
Q: So what are the odds we will see more three and four wide receiver sets and two tight end sets? Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green could burn or beast mode most linebackers and safeties! – Antonio Dias
A: Yes, I think that is a safe assumption. The Chargers have many weapons top to bottom at both the wide receiver and tight end position. I think they will get creative in getting as many of them out on the field as possible. Head Coach Mike McCoy is known for his creativity and adaptability in catering the offense to his player’s strengths. I look forward to seeing how that plays out heading into the season. Also, don’t sleep on John Phillips. He’s a guy I know many people around here are excited about. He is a very strong blocker and has sneaky receiving ability.
Q: What home game that isn't an AFC West rival are you most excited for? – Dylan Kirkpatrick
A: Personally I am looking forward to the NFC East teams - the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. These are team’s that visit Qualcomm only once every eight years, and they are also high profile teams, so I think the stadium will be rocking! Regarding the Giants, I only have to say two words – Eli Manning. This will be just his second time playing here in San Diego since the infamous draft, so I look forward to the ‘warm’ welcome he is sure to receive from Charger fans.
Q: What do the players do to occupy themselves before minicamp starts? What about between minicamp and training camp? - Ian Allen
A: These guys live and breathe football. When they aren’t training at the facility they are training at home. There really is no let up for the vast majority of the offseason. That being said, many of the guys will get away for a couple days in the weeks leading up to training camp to refresh and rejuvenate for the grueling season. But besides that, it’s all football all the time.
Q: I think D.J. Fluker is a huge addition. How well do you feel Fluker will play in the pass game given his strength really is run blocking? – Julian Brown
A: I’m not worried about Fluker’s pass-protecting ability. Telesco drafted him with the 11th overall selection. He wouldn’t have done that if Fluker was simply a one-dimensional player. Is his biggest strength run-blocking? Yeah, probably. But he was still very good in the passing game at Alabama as well. That being said, there is a steep learning curve from the collegiate level to the NFL for all rookies so he will have to work diligently to be prepared for the start of the season. I think he gets there.
Q: How is Melvin Ingram progressing? What is his state of mind? Please keep us informed from time to time on his progress to recovery. – Frank Milner
A: Melvin is obviously bummed, but he is in good spirits. He’s an incredibly motivated and upbeat guy in general, so I don’t think there’s a need to worry how this will affect him psychologically. Like he tweeted out shortly after his diagnosis, this is “a minor setback for a major comeback.”
Thanks to everyone for your great questions this week. We received hundreds this week , so I apologize if I wasn’t able to answer yours. We’ll be doing this mailbag often in the future so stay tuned!