Take a look at the entire Bolts roster leading into 2018 Preseason.
As we near the start of training camp on July 28, we'll preview each position for the Los Angeles Chargers. We begin with the quarterbacks.
Philip Rivers – What else is there to say at this point about Philip Rivers? One of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, number 17 shows no sign of slowing down as he enters his 15th season. In fact, he's fresh off one of the best campaigns of his Hall of Fame worthy career, completing 360 of 575 attempts for 4,515 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. His 4,515 passing yards ranked second in the league while he also ranked third with 61 passes of at least 20 yards, fourth in completions and fifth in touchdowns. Rivers enters 2018 sixth all-time in NFL history with 342 career touchdown passes, seventh with 4,171 career completions and ninth with 50,348 regular season passing yards.
Cardale Jones – Every offseason, reporters ask if the Bolts are in the market for a young QB. When pressed about it this year, Head Coach Anthony Lynn and General Manager Tom Telesco explained they already have one in Cardale Jones. At the same time, they emphasized this is an important one for the third-year passer. The Chargers acquired him shortly before last year's training camp from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a seventh-round pick, and he spent the entire year developing behind Rivers. He was active for only one game a year ago, so training camp and preseason action will show how much his game has developed.
Geno Smith – The Bolts added a veteran to the QB room in early April, inking Geno Smith to a one-year deal. Head Coach Anthony Lynn boasts an intimate knowledge of the quarterback as he served on the New York Jets' coaching staff for the first two years of Smith's career. The 6-3, 221-pound passer entered the league as a second-round pick (39th overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft. He appeared in 33 games over four seasons for the Jets with 30 starts, completing 501 of his 866 attempts for 5,962 yards and 28 touchdowns. After an ACL injury cost him all but two games in 2016, Smith spent last season as Eli Manning's backup for the New York Giants. He appeared in two games with one start, completing 21-of-36 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown.
Nick Shimonek – The battle for the Bolts' number two quarterback figures to come down to Jones and Smith. However, fans shouldn't discount Nic Shimonek. Signed as an undrafted free agent in May out of Texas Tech, the 6-3, 225-pound quarterback showed potential throughout the Chargers' offseason program. Shimonek was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in college football last season, completing 328 of 493 passes (66.5 percent) for 3,963 yards and 33 touchdowns.
We're Keeping Our Eye On…
Ricky Henne: When you come out to Jack Hammett Sports Complex for training camp, you better pay close attention to the battle to back up Philip Rivers. QB competitions are always fun, and this year's should be a doozy between Cardale Jones and Geno Smith. While Jones may be the sexier name due to his untapped potential, I can't wait to see Geno Smith. I was very impressed by his accuracy. I've seen a number of quarterbacks over the past seven years on the practice field, and after watching him this offseason, I'd put Smith's accuracy right up there with any of them. Of course, there's a big difference between throwing the ball in the offseason program and doing so in padded practices and preseason play when the live bullets fly. So for that reason, I'll be watching the former Jet and Giant on each and every snap.
Hayley Elwood: For the first time in a few years, the Chargers' backup quarterback position is a big question mark heading into the season. I think you can make a case to keep your eyes on either Cardale Jones or Geno Smith, but I'm going to take Jones because I'm interested to see how he's developed with a full regular season and offseason as a Charger now under his belt. Although he saw preseason action last year, he was signed just days before training camp and was essentially thrown into the fire. But now with being in the QB room for a year, I'm curious if he can nab the backup spot, or if it's Geno Smith's for the taking.
Chris Hayre: Geno Smith and Cardale Jones. Head Coach Anthony Lynn is familiar with both players from his prior stops at the Jets and Bills. While Jones has been in Los Angeles longer, Smith has the advantage in experience with 31 career NFL starts. This is perhaps the most important position battle in all of camp because of the responsibility that comes with winning the job. Recent history points to Nick Foles leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl win and Case Keenum taking the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game – both in backup roles. Smith and Jones will need to show a consistent ability to move the offense during training camp practices and in preseason games. The competition is wide open.
The Chargers' 2018 training camp schedule is official, so mark your calendars to watch the Bolts prepare for the upcoming season! The team will hold 14 practices open to the public between July 28 and August 23. For more information, please visit www.chargers.com/camp.