Chargers Training Camp is on the horizon. The Bolts will host 10 open practices as they welcome fans back to Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.
The Bolts are looking for a repeat appearance in the postseason as they enter Year 3 under Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, and have a roster filled with talent and work ethic.
Chargers.com will take a look at each position group leading up to training camp. The wide receivers are up next.
Who's on the roster?
Keenan Allen (11th NFL season; 11th with Chargers), Mike Williams (7;7), Joshua Palmer (3;3), Quentin Johnston (1;1), Jalen Guyton (4;4), Derius Davis (1;1), Darrius Shepherd (3;1), Keelan Doss (2;2), John Hightower (2;2), Terrell Bynum (1;1), and Pokey Wilson (1;1).
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This position group is among the deepest and most talented on the entire roster.
The wide receiver room features veteran stars such as Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, a player who can do a bit of everything in Joshua Palmer and a potential future star in first-round pick Quentin Johnston.
And that doesn't include speedsters such as Jalen Guyton or Derius Davis, plus others who could step up in training camp and the preseason.
The group will be in focus during camp as they look to mesh in Kellen Moore's offense, a scheme that could see more deep shots from quarterback Justin Herbert in 2023.
"Assuming everybody is at full strength, we definitely want to be able to push the ball down the field more and create more explosive plays," Chargers wide receivers coach Chris Beatty said. "It's about run after the catch, in-breaking route and scheme some things up to catch routes on the run to help do that."
Allen had one of the best lines of the offseason when he was asked if he expects the Bolts aerial attack to be more aggressive this season.
"Yeah, I think so. Obviously, Justin has a cannon," Allen said. "When Mike goes deep, he has a new guy named Quentin Johnston, he can go deep.
"We're probably going to be going deep," Allen added with a chuckle.
Big plays are something Williams — perhaps the league's best jump ball threat — excels at. Johnston could use his big frame in that area, too, but he also excelled in creating yards after the catch at TCU.
Allen will be his reliable self as a third-down machine while Davis, who is expected to be the punt and kick returner, could carve out a role for himself as well.
Guyton is on the mend after tearing his ACL in Week 3 of the 2022 season and is still viewed as a speedy deep threat when on the field.
Health will be a big component of this group in 2023, as Allen, Williams and Palmer all battled injuries a season ago.
Shepherd, Doss and Hightower could be next in line to replace the names above if that trio winds up on the practice squad. A pair of undrafted free agents — Bynum and Wilson — are also candidates for the practice squad.
Overall, the Chargers wide receiver room could be among the league's best in 2023 if they remain healthy and reach their full potential.
"I really like our room, I wouldn't trade it for any room in the league. I just want to make sure we get our guys in a position to show case the ability that they have."— Beatty on where he'd rank the Chargers wide receiver group in the league.
Player to watch: Quentin Johnston
Truth be told, the Chargers might not have needed to draft Johnston in the first round this spring.
They already had three strong receivers, but the Bolts front office knows you can never have enough playmakers for Herbert through the air.
Enter Johnston, who has an NFL-ready frame at 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds.
There's no need for Johnston to be the focal point of the Chargers as a rookie, which makes for a great transition to the league for the Texas native.
He can learn from Allen, Williams and others while integrating himself into the offense at his own pace.
"At the end of the day, making him feel at ease that he doesn't have to carry us," Beatty said. "That's one of the great things about this situation is. He's got Mike, he's got Keenan and he's got Josh … they've been in this league over time.
"So it's not like we're counting on you to come in and be the No. 1 receiver on Day 1, but that being said, he should compete to be the No. 1 receiver on Day 1. They kind of both go together," Beatty added.
That doesn't mean Johnston can't make an impact in Year 1. If he can in fact do that, it could push the Bolts offense to new heights in 2023.
Take a look back at the Chargers Mini-Camp 2023 in monochrome
Key question: How many wide receivers do the Chargers keep?
The Chargers wide receiver room has been compared to a basketball team this offseason given the sheer size and athleticism in the group.
Williams is 6-foot-4 and Johnston is an inch shorter, while Allen (6-2), Palmer (6-1) and Guyton (6-1) offer their own brand of size, too. Davis is only 5-8 but has speed to burn.
But the group mentioned above is also six wide receivers deep, which could be the maximum number of receivers the Chargers keep on their 53-man roster.
And if the Bolts only keep five receivers, that could make for tough decisions.
Allen, Williams, Palmer and Johnstons are locks to make the team, while Davis is a safe bet given his upcoming role on special teams. Guyton made the squad a season ago and could very well deserve a spot again if fully healthy.
If the Bolts do indeed open up the playbook and look to have a more explosive passing attack, six receivers on the roster makes sense.
All of this is to say that competition for playing time and roster spots will be fierce in the coming weeks.
"I think we have a lot of depth, a lot of competition in that room," Beatty said. "Which is exciting to me because now it's our job to be able to make all of those pieces fit together and make it all gel.
"That makes it exciting so obviously a lot better issue when you have that much talent than when you don't," Beatty added.
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