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Top 5 Matchups to Watch in Chargers-Saints Joint Practices

JP

Joint practices are set to return at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

The Chargers will host the Saints for two days of joint sessions Thursday and Friday before the teams meet Sunday in preseason play.

The Bolts starters aren't expected to play in the game, meaning the work over the next two days will be crucial in helping them get prepared for the regular season.

Here are five matchups to watch:

1. Chargers secondary vs. Saints wide receivers

Perhaps the biggest development of the week was when J.C. Jackson said he'll participate in joint practices. That's another step forward for the Chargers cornerback in his progression in returning from a serious knee injury. Jackson and other at his position — Michael Davis, Asante Samuel, Jr. and Ja'Sir Taylor — will get a great test against Michael Thomas and Chris Olave of New Orleans. The Bolts secondary has flashed in camp against their own teammates, but this is the next step as the regular season looms.

Check out the best photos from the fourteenth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!

2. Eric Kendricks vs. Alvin Kamara

Kendricks' leadership on the field and in the locker room has been lauded since he arrived as a free agent this spring. But we'll soon see how his on-field impact looks in live action, especially against the run game, an area the Bolts have focused on improving in 2023. Kendricks knows Kamara well, having seen him four times including twice in the playoffs. We'll know more about Kendricks and the Chargers run defense by Friday afternoon.

3. Chargers wide receivers vs. Saints secondary

The Bolts boast one of the best wide receiver quartets in the entire league, as the group of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer and Quentin Johnston offers a bit of everything. They'll get strong work in against a pair of veterans in cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Tyrann Mathieu. Can Justin Herbert and his playmakers find a way to hit on explosive pass plays like we've seen in recent weeks?

4. Trey Pipkins III vs. Cameron Jordan

Jordan is entering his 13th season in the NFL and will be one of the elder statesman on the field during joint sessions. He also brings a sparkling resumé with 115.5 career sacks and eight Pro Bowls. Pipkins showed plenty of improvement in 2022 as he gutted through a knee injury, and was rewarded as a free agent with a multi-year deal this offseason. Rashawn Slater's return to near-game action will be noteworthy, but tracking Pipkins against Jordan will be must-see theater in Costa Mesa.

5. Khalil Mack vs. Derek Carr

We'll end this list with a couple of buddies. Mack and Carr were teammates with the Raiders from 2014 to 2017 and have stayed in touch over the years, especially in 2022 when both resided in the AFC West. But with Carr now out of the division, you can bet Mack wants to remind him of the dominant player he can be … even if he can't actually sack Carr in practice. This will be Mack's best chance to get ready for the regular season.

Check out the best shots from the Chargers Preseason Week 1, 34-17, victory over the Rams at SoFi Stadium

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