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5 Takeaways: Rumph, Kelley Shine in Bolts Preseason Opener

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The Chargers began their preseason schedule with a 29-22 loss to the Rams at SoFi Stadium.

Here are five observations from Saturday night's preseason opener:

1. Rumph flashes on defense

Chris Rumph II's focus has been on making daily progress as he heads into his second season.

The outside linebacker stacked up another good day Saturday night, as he was among the best players on the field early on.

Rumph only played the first few series for the Bolts, but he made his presence felt in a big way.

The 23-year-old, who had 1.0 sack as a rookie, ended the Rams opening drive with a sack in the first quarter.

Rumph powered through Rams tackle Alaric Johnson to bring down quarterback Bryce Perkins. Rumph was helped out by interior pressure from Morgan Fox, but he more than did his part to get into the backfield.

Rumph, a 2021 fourth-round pick out of Duke, later flashed in the run game by teaming with safety Alohi Gilman on a tackle for loss for two yards.

2. Kelley pushing for RB2 job

Joshua Kelley is among the handful of running backs who are competing for snaps behind starter Austin Ekeler at running back.

The third-year back had a strong showing in multiple facets Saturday as he gained 42 yards on six total touches, good for 7.0 yards per play.

Kelley impressed for the first drive, when he tallied 28 total yards, including an 11-yard reception that included a broken tackle on third-and-6 to move the sticks.

Kelley showed good power and balance whenever he had the ball and finished with three carries for 16 yards, plus three catches for 28 yards.

Larry Rountree III had three caries for 8 yards, and rookie Isaiah Spiller had 10 rushes for 34 yards.

3. Pipkins, Norton split RT reps

Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said Thursday that Trey Pipkins III and Storm Norton would both see action against the Rams.

That proved to be true, as the two players battling for the starting right tackle job played almost the same number of snaps.

Pipkins started the game and was in for the first two drives, which totaled 13 snaps (nine on the first drives and four on the next drive).

Norton then entered the game and played 16 total snaps over the next three series. The Chargers went three-and-out on the first two drives Norton was in before putting together a 10-play scoring sequence.

That starting position won't be decided anytime soon — and reps against the Cowboys in joint practices this week will be key — but this position battle is worth monitoring as we go.

The starting offensive line featured, from left to right, Foster Sarell, Jamaree Salyer, Will Clapp, Zion Johnson and Pipkins.

Johnson, a 2022 first-round pick, played the first three drives of the game.

4. Reed, Bandy both find the end zone

The Bolts are set at the top of their wide receiver depth chart with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams — one of the top pass-catching duos in the league.

Behind them, others such as Joshua Palmer, DeAndre Carter and Jalen Guyton are viewed as critical depth pieces.

But if the Bolts keep six wide receivers on their 53-man roster, Joe Reed and Michael Bandy both made strong impressions Saturday night.

Reed caught the game's first score, getting behind the secondary for a 41-yard strike from Chase Daniel on the Bolts opening possession. Reed finished with four catches for 61 yards, and also had 60 yards on three kick returns.

Bandy, meanwhile, also found the end zone in the first half. He used his athleticism on a Whip route, pivoting inside before breaking to the outside on a 16-yard score, which was also thrown by Daniel.

Bandy finished with with seven catches for 73 yards on the night.

Daniel, by the way, split the game evenly with Easton Stick, as both played a half. Daniel completed 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards. He also had a 22-yard scramble.

Stick completed 16 of 23 passes for 119 yards, and added a 3-yard rushing touchdown.

Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Preseason Week 1 matchup against the Rams at SoFi Stadium.

5. Mostly solid in special teams coverage

Like any preseason game, there were ups and downs in all three phases, especially involving young players.

And while the Bolts will have things to clean up, there were mostly positives on special teams.

That included the Bolts first kickoff, where linebacker Cole Christiansen flew down the field to limit the return to 15 yards.

Rookie Ja'Sir Taylor later flashed on punt coverage, getting off his block to limit a return to just five yards.

JK Scott also continued to impress and build off a strong training camp. He recorded four punts with an average of 44.3 yards per kick, landing one of them inside the 20-yard line.

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