With training camp on the horizon, we’ve previewed 10 of the most intriguing storylines to watch for when the Bolts kick things off on July 28.
Today, we’ll look at 10 players you should keep an eye on at Chargers Camp.
QB Cardale Jones – You can excuse Jones if last year’s training camp was a bit of a whirlwind as he joined the Bolts mere days before the start of camp. It took time to learn a new playbook and get on the same page as his teammates, which is why the Chargers have high hopes for the former Ohio State star heading into his second year in L.A. Jones boasts a unique skillset with impressive athleticism and a cannon arm to go along. Now the question is how he’s putting it all together as he enters his third season in the NFL.
TE Braedon Bowman – Hunter Henry’s injury was a blow to the Bolts. Now it’s time to see who steps up. One candidate fans should know is Braedon Bowman, who spent all of 2017 on the team’s practice squad. The 6-2, 240-pounder flashed during OTAs, showcasing his athleticism as a pass catcher as well as being stout as a blocker. Bowman was originally signed as an undrafted free agent of the New York Jets in 2016, and he appeared in three games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
WR Mike Williams – Last year’s seventh overall pick will finally make his training camp debut when he takes the field at Jack Hammett Sports Complex on Saturday. Williams has been upfront about how 2017 was a lost season, as a back injury kept him off the field from early May until early October. The 6-4, 220-pounder is a big-bodied target with a wide catch radius, so make sure to keep an eye on his development as well as his burgeoning rapport with Philip Rivers.
WR Artavis Scott – Just like Williams, Scott is another wideout from Clemson who initially joined the team in 2017. He spent last season on the Chargers’ practice squad, and he looks to have made the most of it after a standout spring. Scott routinely earned praise from coaches and teammates, setting him up for the chance to make the 53-man roster this season. The 5-11, 195-pounder is a reliable playmaker as he still ranks as Clemson’s all-time leader in career receptions with 245.
DE Isaac Rochell – Rochell is another player who earned a ton of praise this offseason. The team’s seventh-round pick a year ago out of Notre Dame spent most of the season on the practice squad, but made an impact when on the active roster. After playing in the team’s season opener, the 6-4, 280-pounder didn’t see the field again until Week 16, when he sacked New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty. Rochell was impossible to miss this past spring, and now he’ll look to keep it up heading into training camp.
LB Kyzir White – Pundits believe the Bolts may have hit the jackpot with White, their hard-hitting fourth-round pick out of West Virginia. The catch is that the 6-2, 218-pound rookie doesn’t only have to adjust to the pro game…he has to adjust to a new position. White starred at safety for the Mountaineers, albeit their scheme was more of a safety/linebacker hybrid. Still, if he can get comfortable early, White might have a chance to contribute in 2018.
CB Jason Verrett – “Feeva” is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the game. Unfortunately, he’s appeared in only five games the past two seasons (four in 2016, one in 2017) after a breakout Pro Bowl campaign in 2015. Verrett explained how he never felt like himself when working back from his 2016 knee injury, but that he finally feels like his old self. If that’s the case, the wait has most definitely been worth it as there are few better at the position than number 22.
RB Justin Jackson – There are only two running backs on the Chargers roster with an NFL carry in Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Thus, Jackson has an opportunity to carve out his niche in the running back rotation as a rookie. The team’s seventh-round draft pick out of Northwestern ranks third-all time in the Big Ten with 6,289 rushing yards, good for the most in school history. The 6-0, 199-pounder scored 42 touchdowns in his career, and is just the ninth player in NCAA history to eclipse 1,000 yards all four years he played.
QB Geno Smith – Smith appears to be locked into a fierce battle with Cardale Jones to back up Philip Rivers. The veteran joined the Chargers on a one-year deal in early April after spending four years with the New York Jets and last season with the Giants. Smith boasts more experience than the other candidates behind Philip Rivers, starting 31 games over his career while throwing 29 touchdowns. He is fresh off an impressive spring in which he showed tremendous touch and accuracy.
S Derwin James – All eyes will naturally be on the Chargers’ first round pick. For months, pundits have noted how he is the “steal of the draft” and a perfect fit for the Bolts. But that’s all talk. Now it’s time for James to go out and actually make those words a reality. It’s important to remember that James is still a rookie who hasn’t played in a single NFL game, so training camp will provide the best chance yet to see how far he’s developed since joining the team. It’ll also give us an opportunity to see which spot he’s deployed in as he’s capable of playing both free and strong safety.
MORE THINGS TO WATCH
Chargers Training Camp is kicking off soon! Click here for information on attending one of the 14 open practices between July 28 and August 23. Want to attend camp in style? Enter here for your chance to win a VIP camp experience for you and 10 friends, which includes a meet and greet with a player!
Take a look at the entire Bolts roster leading into 2018 Preseason.