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Chargers Mailbag: Previewing the Bolts-Chiefs Primetime Matchup


Welcome to the Chargers Mailbag! I'm Senior Writer Eric Smith, and I answer questions from the Bolt Fam each and every week.

Send in submissions for the Mailbag here on Twitter or by sending me an email.

Off we go…

A great question as we're somehow just a day away from a primetime showdown between the Chargers and Chiefs in primetime.

The Bolts can pull off a road win if they take care of the ball on offense. They did that in Week 1 against the Raiders, and will likely need to do it again against the Chiefs. It may sound simple (teams talk about the turnover battle each week), but it feels heightened against a Chiefs offense that put up a league-high 44 points in Week 1.

This is a recipe that has also worked for the Bolts in recent seasons, as the Chargers have won two straight in Kansas City … with no turnovers in each game.

Defensively, the Chargers will need to limit big plays by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. That's easier said than done, but it will need to be a top priority Thursday night. Kansas City had four passing plays of at least 25 yards in Week 1, while the Bolts allowed two such plays against the Raiders.

Nobody is expecting the Chargers to pitch a shutout, but they'll give themselves a better chance to win if they can limit the big-strike plays.

If the Chargers don't do the things above, that certainly helps the Chiefs favor. Kansas City is one of the toughest places to play across the league, and all eyes will be on this one. The Bolts will need to be near their best in order to get a win.

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said Tuesday that Keenan Allen's hamstring is going to "take some time" to heal, but that he wouldn't rule him out just yet for Thursday night.

As for OBJ, no, I don't think he'd be an immediate option, simply because of his health. He tore his ACL in February and likely isn't going to play anytime soon. Yes, he's still a free agent, but teams and OBJ himself are likely waiting a bit to see how his recovery goes.

Plus, the Chargers like the wide receiver depth they currently have on their roster. If Allen can't go Thursday night, that gives players such as Joshua Palmer and Jalen Guyton a chance to step up.

And Michael Bandy could also be elevated from the practice squad, although Staley said Tuesday the team was still working through roster construction for Week 2.

First off, Week 1 was a pretty big game. And it was important that the Chargers won that one.

Jonaven is likely referring to Ekeler's 33 offensive snaps, which was 49 percent of the total plays ran.

There's no doubt Ekeler is a critical piece of this offense, and he will be used plenty throughout the season.

But with such a quick turnaround (two games in five days), Ekeler might now be a little more fresh than, say, if he played 45 or 50 snaps against the Raiders.

Plus, the Chargers like their running back depth with Joshua Kelley (who played 18 snaps Sunday) and Sony Michel (16 snaps).

It's a long season, and there's no need to add extra wear and tear to Ekeler's workload if it's not warranted.

Nope, not one bit. To me, Week 1 is always one of the strangest games of the season.

There's so much hype and excitement, but also just as many unknowns. The main objective is to get a win, and the Bolts accomplished that mission.

Yes, Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi said this week that he felt he got too conservative in the second half Sunday. But Staley and others disagreed with that, noting that teams will most likely try to run the ball to salt the game away in the second half.

Credit Lombardi for being self-aware though, because he just might do it differently in a similar scenario going forward.

Hopefully, but I wouldn't count on it. The Chargers were able to coerce Derek Carr into tying his career high with three interceptions.

Odds are that won't happen with Mahomes, who is usually on point with his passers. He actually led the league in accuracy in Week 1, by the way.

The Chargers did intercept Mahomes three times last season, including twice in Kansas City in Week 3. But it's a tall task to expect him to throw that many this time around.

Instead, the Bolts will need to focus on keeping him in the pocket as much as possible and trying to muddy the pocket around his feet.

No doubt Thursday games are tough for all involved, especially players and coaches who have to get ready for a stout opponent in a quicker timeframe than normal.

It helps, of course, that the Chargers are coming off a win. And the Chiefs have to do the same thing, so it's a pretty even playing field.

I do think having it in Week 2 is a health benefit, as players are usually less dinged up now than they would be in, say, Week 13. But the challenge is as mental as it is physical, as players must cram film study into three days rather than five or six.

It does help that it's a division game, and these teams know each other well, even with the typical amount of new faces on both squads.

As for the Chargers all-time record on Thursdays, it's 11-10-1.

But what's interesting is that the Bolts past 10 games on TNF have all come against fellow AFC West teams, and the Chargers are an even 5-5 in those games.

With Justin Herbert and Mahomes in the spotlight, odds are we're going to see these teams in primetime a lot going forward.

Got a few questions on the decision to elevate Christian Covington to the 53-man roster and waive Breiden Fehoko.

Staley said there was "just some procedural stuff" when asked about it Monday. In other words, it likely has to do with contracts and finances and all that.

Remember, Covington is a vested veteran and Fehoko is not, so that comes into play for teams, too.

Fehoko was added to the practice squad on Tuesday, so he's still a part of the team. And Staley said both players are valuable parts of the roster.

"We see both of those guys as assets for our football team," Staley said. "Just felt like, for this week, that this would be the best decision. Excited that we're able to have [Covington] on our team."

Fehoko is a clearly a fan favorite and one of the best personalities on the team.

But keep in mind that it often takes more than 53 players to have a successful year. Over the course of the, as many as 60 or 70 players could be counted upon for any number of roles.

It takes a team to win games, and it will take a team effort to get to 2-0 on Thursday night.

As always, you can find me on Twitter at @Eric_L_Smith and submit your questions for the Chargers Mailbag.

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