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Training Camp Preview: Tight Ends
From now until the start of training camp, we’ll preview each position for the San Diego Chargers. We continue with a breakdown of the tight ends. The Bolts currently have seven on their roster: Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green, John Phillips, David Johnson, Jake Byrne, Ryan Otten and Michael Flacco.
Gates – One of the all-time greats at the position returns to lead a strong crop of tight ends.
Green – The man they call “Pee Wee” is a popular pick by the national media to be a breakout player in 2014, and it is easy to see why as his arrow is pointing upward.
Phillips – A suffocating blocker, Phillips is often overlooked for his fine performance doing the dirty work. He had an impressive 2013 before it was cut short after suffering a knee injury in the Week 16 win over the Oakland Raiders that landed him on the Reserve-Injured list. Prior to that, he started six games and recorded four catches for 30 yards.
Johnson – Much like Phillips, Johnson thrives in the trenches when he gets to put a hat on a head. The 6-2, 260-pounder spent the last five seasons in the “Steel City,” playing in 52 games with 26 starts in which he recorded 22 catches for 216 yards and a touchdown. Johnson played in 47 of 48 games his first three seasons with the Steelers, including starts in all 16 contests in 2011 when he set career highs with 12 catches, 91 yards and a touchdown. The last two seasons, however, Johnson was limited to just five games with two starts due to injuries. Johnson also has seen time in the past as a fullback.
Byrne – The sturdy 6-5, 258-pound former Badger had multiple stints with the Bolts in 2013. He began the year on the practice squad before the Houston Texans signed him to their active roster. He appeared in seven games for the Texans before being released. After Phillips injury, San Diego re-signed him to their active roster, and he appeared in one regular season match and two postseason games.
Otten – Otten joined the Chargers’ practice squad on Oct. 9 last year after Byrne was signed by the Texans. The 6-6, 241-pounder finished his collegiate career with 126 receptions for 1,760 yards and 12 TDs, the most in San Jose State history by a tight end.
Flacco –The 27-year old younger brother of Ravens QB Joe Flacco averaged 19.7 yards per catch and scored nine touchdowns during his only season of college football at New Haven.