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10 Things to Watch: Who Earns the Nickel Job?

The Los Angeles Chargers boast two of the game's top cornerbacks in Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett.

Nonetheless, an all-important battle at the position will take centerstage once training camp commences.

The modern pass happy NFL requires more defensive backs on the field than ever before, with the nickel corner essentially serving as a starter.  Who'll emerge as the team's primary slot defender remains to be seen, but there are several players in the running.

First there's Craig Mager, the former third-round draft choice who's seen his playing time increase over the past two years.  He fought through injuries a year ago to appear in 11 games with eight starts, finishing with 29 tackles, four passes defensed and one pick.  The athletic playmaker also had a key fumble recovery in the Thursday night victory over the Denver Broncos.  The Bolts knew he'd take time to blossom when they selected the raw Texas State product in 2015, and hope to reap the rewards in 2017.

Also in the running is Trevor Williams, who shined as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State in 2016.  The 5-11, 191-pounder plays with a calm confidence, which was on full display during the Bolts' game in Atlanta when he was thrust into action against Julio Jones. Williams started five of the 12 games he appeared in as a rookie, ending his first year with 29 tackles and five passes broken up.

Then there's Trovon Reed, who let his play do the talking with a strong finish last year.  A former wide receiver in college, he made the switch to the secondary late in his career.  He joined the Chargers' practice squad midway through the 2016 campaign before being promoted to the active roster.  Reed made his presence felt with a pair of noteworthy interceptions in the team's final four games.

This year's sixth-round pick, Desmond King, will also look to stake claim to the nickel role.  Head Coach Anthony Lynn mentioned that the former Jim Thorpe Award winner as the top defensive back in college football would be groomed to play safety as well as in the slot.

A number of other corners, including Randall Evans and Michael Davis impressed Bolts' brass during the offseason.  It truly will be a wide open competition as the Chargers will wait to see who emerges from the pack.

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