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5 Chargers Questions Ahead of OTA Practices


The intensity is about to ramp up as the Chargers begin Organized Team Activity practices on Monday.

The Bolts will hold three practices in helmet and shorts for the next three weeks, all of which are voluntary.

Here are five questions surrounding the Chargers ahead of OTAs:

1. What impact does Kellen Moore have?

This will be our first look at Moore's version of the Chargers offense since he was hired as the offensive coordinator in late January.

And while nobody expects the unit to be a finished product in May, this is the time of year where building blocks are laid to help prepare for the season.

It will be interesting to see how Moore aligns different formations as well as who lines up where in his scheme.

One final thing to note: Justin Herbert threw passes earlier this week, a step in the right direction after he had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder earlier this offseason.

But it's probably a little unrealistic to expect Herbert to take on a normal workload at this point. Perhaps we see more of Easton Stick with the first-team offense than usual.

2. How does Eric Kendricks fit in?

The Bolts are running it back on defense, as nearly every starter from a year ago remains on the roster.

The only outside addition in free agency was Kendricks, a linebacker who spent the past eight seasons with the Vikings.

Kendricks, by all accounts, has meshed well with his new teammates this spring and will be looked to for his leadership once the season arrives.

But OTAs will offer the first chance to see him in action, and the first chance for help to help shore up a Chargers run defense that was inconsistent at times in 2022.

"I think having Eric back there is going to definitely help us make those adjustments faster, less wasted time, less thinking," Sebastian Joseph-Day said this week of Kendricks. "He will be able to see that faster and get it communicated to us. That will help, honestly, everyone play faster.

"At the end of the day, you can't play defense slow," Joseph-Day added. "The moment you're a step behind or you miss something, that's how you get got. It's definitely going to help us, for sure."

3. What's in store for the offensive line?

Hello, Rashawn Slater.

The Chargers franchise left tackle was on a stellar trajectory before a biceps injury ended his season in Week 3 last year.

Slater is fully healthy now and will be a welcome sight protecting the quarterback's blindside in spring practices.

As for the rest of the offensive line, Corey Linsley (center) and Trey Pipkins III (right tackle) are back in their usual spots, too.

All eyes will be on the guard spots, which underwent some shuffling this offseason.

Zion Johnson started every game as a rookie at right guard but is moving to the left side, the spot where he shined at Boston College on the way to being a first-round pick.

Jamare Salyer is transitioning to right guard after filling in for Slater at left tackle in his own rookie season. Salyer's position flexibility was highly valued by the Bolts a year ago but the hope is that he settles into his new spot quickly.

Keep an eye on the interior depth, too, especially recent draft picks Brenden Jaimes and Jordan McFadden.

Take a look back at the fifth week of the Chargers 2023 off-season program in monochrome

4. How does the secondary look?

There may not be a more interesting unit entering the spring than the secondary.

Derwin James, Jr., will be his usual self, but there's a starting spot open next to him that is expected to be filled by either Alohi Gilman or JT Woods.

Gilman earned the starting nod in the playoffs last year but Woods is expected to take a leap in Year 2 after being a third-round pick.

Cornerback also brings plenty of intrigue, mostly as J.C. Jackson continues to rehab from a torn patella tendon suffered midway through the season.

Asante Samuel, Jr. and Michael Davis will likely lineup with the first-team defense to start, and Ja'Sir Taylor could also be in that group, too.

Taylor can play in the slot but perhaps Samuel lines up there, too. Lots of storylines with this group.

5. An early lead in the kicker battle?

We're not forgetting special teams here.

The Chargers are about to embark on a kicking battle between veteran Dustin Hopkins and youngster Cameron Dicker.

Both were solid a year ago as Hopkins made nine of 10 field goals before getting injured. Dicker then stepped in and made 19 of 20 field goals, including a walk-off winner in his first game.

Chargers Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken said this week that everything will be evaluated in the battle, whether it's last year's performance, consistency this year or how they fit onto the roster.

May the best kicker win what should be a fascinating decision.

Elsewhere on special teams, Derius Davis will be given the first crack at both returner roles but he will have to earn them as he enters his rookie season.

Check out some photos of the Chargers during the fifth week of the 2023 off-season program at Hoag Performance Center

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