Here are five takeaways from Wednesday’s practice at Jack Hammett Sports Complex:
Cardale’s progression – Quarterback Cardale Jones led two scoring drives Sunday against the Saints, finishing 10-of-14 for 111 yards and a touchdown – a passer rating of 118.5.
After practice, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said he’s excited about how Jones has performed in camp, but is looking for “sustained success” from the fourth-year player.
“He did a nice job in the Arizona game and then followed it up with another good game last week,” said Whisenhunt of Jones. “Now going into this week, the third preseason game against a different opponent, it’s another challenge. I think you have to measure it in total.”
One of Jones’ favorite targets Sunday was wide receiver Andre Patton, who caught four passes for 62 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown. Whisenhunt said a play before the TD, a screen – which likely would have gone for a score – was called the wrong way.
“I think, maybe, [Jones] did that so that he could throw the touchdown pass on third down,” Whisenhunt joked. “It is a process, but we’re all really happy with the way that Cardale has progressed.”
Wide receiver battle heats up – While several players are working toward Week 1 of the regular season, there is a segment of the roster whose immediate NFL futures hinge on the next two preseason games.
“I think we have some young players that are really fighting for a spot on the team,” Whisenhunt said. “You always pull for these guys because you want to see them have success. That’s what I get most excited about. Even though you don’t really scheme preseason games, you try to run certain plays for certain guys to see how they’re able to respond to that. That’s exciting.”
One of the many intriguing position battles is at wide receiver. Whisenhunt said outside of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin, it’s been an “uneven preseason” for that group.
On Wednesday’s episode of Chargers Weekly, radio analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he’s keeping an eye on the wideouts.
“I think you look at that receiving group – if they’re going to keep five, [if] they’re going to keep six,” he said. “What do we see from them? Geremy Davis has been such a great special-teams player. Is his spot secure? Artavis Scott – do we see him step up and make some plays and try to fight for a roster spot? Some good names there to keep an eye on.”
Playing time for linebackers – After losing a majority of its linebackers last season due to injury, Los Angeles now has several who have either flashed or who are established.
Jeremiah wonders how it’s all going to shake out.
“I like the linebacker position, and not necessarily, ‘Are they or aren’t they going to make the team?’ but, ‘How are these reps going to get divvied up once the season starts?’” he said. “When you have Drue Tranquill flashing like he has [and] Kyzir White – how does he factor in?
“We know what Thomas Davis is. We know what Denzel Perryman is. But trying to find out how that group is going to mesh together and who’s going to be in what package – those are things I’m interested to watch.”
Another linebacker fighting for playing time is Emeke Egbule. The rookie played 21 snaps on defense and nine on special teams on Sunday versus the Saints.
Jeremiah said the explosiveness that Egbule showcased at Houston has transferred to the pro game. Egbule is focused on being versatile, which means contributing to the third phase of the game.
“I can rush the passer,” Egbule said. “I’ve been getting reps at that and getting better at that — you can always get better. Getting better at the overall defense at my position at OTTO right now and just being able to add value to myself and do more than one thing and be on special teams. That’s good for me.”
Curt Menefee on Chargers Weekly – In addition to Jeremiah, Curt Menefee, host of “FOX NFL Sunday,” joined the latest episode of Chargers Weekly. Menefee, who paid a visit to Tuesday’s practice, also does play-by-play for Seahawks preseason television.
One of the topics discussed was the additions of veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor and linebacker Thomas Davis to a roster that’s largely intact from last season:
“Is Thomas Davis the same guy he was five years ago? Probably not, but he’s probably a smarter guy as well. He knows how to play the game, and you talk about leadership, that’s one thing that…I would put him in the top 10 leaders in the NFL, period. He is that guy. Solid. And so when you’re able to bring in pieces that are veteran pieces that understand their role and how they play with this team, but also make guys around them better, then I think that’s another reason to feel really good about where you are right now.”
Listen to the entire interview with Menefee, and subscribe to Chargers Weekly wherever you listen to podcasts.
Miami-Florida rivalry among teammates – The 2019 college football season kicks off Saturday in Orlando with Miami vs. Florida, two schools who are well represented on the Chargers’ roster.
The Hurricanes: wide receiver Travis Benjamin, kicker Michael Badgley, linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Rayshawn Jenkins. The Gators: center Mike Pouncey and safety Jaylen Watkins.
Watkins said the back-and-forth chirping has already begun.
“Yeah, it’s been going on the last two weeks,” he said. “They think they’ve got a quarterback, we don’t have a quarterback, we’ve got to see. They got me my senior year, they beat us. Last time we played they beat us, but we should get them this year.”
Benjamin, who according to Watkins has done the most talking, predicted a 20-17 Miami win on Saturday. In college, the wide receiver lost to a 2008 Florida team that included Pouncey.
“[Pouncey] is the one talking trash, so hopefully we go into this weekend and dominate,” Benjamin said.
Take a glimpse into the action of Chargers Camp practice on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.