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5 Unheralded Players for the Chargers This Season


The Bolts have worked their way into a solid spot with three games to go.

The Chargers now sit at 8-6 and in the No. 6 seed in the AFC, and they can potentially clinch a playoff spot Monday night.

It's been a total team effort along the way with contributions up and down the roster on a weekly basis.

But who are some unheralded players for the Bolts in 2022? Here's a look at some key names who have helped the Chargers stay in the mix.

Ja'Sir Taylor

Taylor's primary impact has been on special teams this season, as a forced fumble in Week 6 against the Broncos was a turning point late in primetime.

But the sixth-round rookie is starting to carve out a role for himself on defense of late, too.

In Week 14 against the Dolphins — with Bryce Callahan out with a groin injury — Taylor started (and flourished) as the Bolts pass defense shut down Miami's aerial attack.

Taylor even earned the start again against the Titans, even with an entirely different offensive scheme on the other side. Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said Taylor provides value as a defender against both the run and the pass.

"I think what Ja'Sir proved, that I think is important, is that he can play in the slot. You don't know until he's out there, whether he can do it or not," Staley said about Week 14. "To do it against those two guys who are as good as anybody in the league, now we know that you have another slot defender, like we know for sure.

"That is awesome in the NFL, to know that you have a backup Star [slot corner] that can play, that's a starter," Staley added. "We think that that's a winning edge for us because when you're trying to play DB groupings, and you have to go cover people, the more coverage guys you have, the better."

Breiden Fehoko

Fehoko is a fan favorite and also beloved inside the Bolts locker room due to his big personality.

But he's let his on-field play say plenty over the past two weeks.

Thrust into a larger role due to depletion up front, Fehoko has played an integral role in back-to-back games in the run defense.

Over the past two games, the Bolts have posted their second and fifth-best performances of the season in terms of rushing yards allowed.

Fehoko has played a big part in that with seven total tackles and a tackle for loss, and he'll be counted upon going forward, too.

Chargers center Corey Linsley described the impact and influence that Fehoko has had on the Bolts this year.

"To me, seeing Fehoko go out there and do an excellent job … that gives me all the confidence in the world that we're going to get this thing done. It's that complementary football," Linsley said. "I'm watching him dominate so it's like, 'Let's go.' The defense is rolling and we've got that team mentality."

Cameron Dicker

It's been a whirlwind season for the Chargers at kicker, where three different players have stepped up in big moments.

Believe it or not, Cameron Dicker has now played the most games at kicker this year with seven. (Dustin Hopkins played five while Taylor Bertolet appeared in two).

Dicker has been more than efficient, hitting 14 of 15 field goals overall along with all 14 extra points. And if you include Dicker's two field goal with Philadelphia from earlier in the year, his success rate of 94.1-percent ranks second in the league.

But Dicker has also been clutch, too, nailing a pair of game-winners for the Bolts.

The first one came in Atlanta (his first game with the Bolts) and the most-recent one was Sunday against the Titans.

If the Chargers can find their way into the playoffs, having a reliable kicker could go a long way.

"He's a guy who can come in and do his job when he's called on," Keenan Allen said Sunday of Dicker. "He doesn't talk too much, he always shows up to practice and knocks them down.

"In practice, in the game, he's always knocking them down," Allen added. "We have the utmost confidence in him and again tonight, he won the game."

Joshua Kelley

The Bolts have had an up-and-down season in the run game on offense.

But Kelley has claimed the No. 2 job behind Austin Ekeler and should continue to provide some juice down the stretch. It's clear he's healthy now after spending a month on Injured Reserve in the middle of the season.

Kelley is averaging 4.2 yards per carry — the highest total of his three-year career by a full yard — and has already matched his career best with two touchdowns.

Teammates and coaches have praised the way he runs hard and brings energy, and his pass protection is among the best on the Bolts, too.

Here's what Staley said about Kelley after Week 14:

"I think you're seeing the burst because he's healthy, coming off the knee," Staley said. "I think you're seeing the burst that he had prior to being injured.

"He's breaking tackles, doing a nice job as a pass-receiver," Staley later added. "He has to continue to bring it for us. He's doing a good job on special teams. Definitely excited to get him back in the mix."

Jamaree Salyer

Yes, there's a chance that Rashawn Slater returns at some point down the road.

But while we wait to see if that happens, let's give some appreciation to Salyer, a rookie who has manned the left tackle spot exceptionally well for the past three months.

According to analytics website Pro Football Focus, Salyer's overall grade this season is 71.0. That ranks 27thamong all tackles who have played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps in 2022.

Salyer has allowed just four sacks and has been called for just three penalties all season, strong numbers from a 22-year-old who primarily worked at guard during training camp and the preseason.

Let's put it this way: losing Slater could have been a massive blow for the Bolts and potentially led to disaster on Justin Herbert's blind side this season.

Salyer made sure that didn't happen.

"Jamaree goes in there and they answer the call," Herbert said last month. "To have guys like that, you trust them."

Check out the best shots from the Chargers Week 15, 17-14, victory over the Tennessee Titans at SoFi

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