The adage of "the ultimate job interview" gets tossed around a lot in the NFL.
But despite hearing it at the Combine or a pro day, for those fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, the ultimate job interview is the final game of the preseason.
It all comes down to Thursday night in San Francisco, and as Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt attested, this week couldn't be more important.
"We'll get a chance to evaluate some more of our players," Whisenhunt said. "This is a critical week for a lot of these guys. I think the big thing is, some of the veteran guys that are not going to play can still be involved and help these guys. There will be a couple guys who make the team (because of this game), and that's really a big thing."
One of the hotly contested position groups is at running back. With multiple backs missing time due to injury, Whiz said this Thursday's game will be crucial to further evaluate talent at the position.
"We've got a number of guys in contention for that spot," he continued. "I think Detrez (Newsome) has done a good job for himself as far as getting better as the preseason has gone on. We'll get an opportunity to see some of those guys (this week). We've had some injuries. I'd like to see Justin (Jackson), and see how he can perform this week. Hopefully we'll be able to see that. That position is one (where) I think some things can be determined in this game."
Staying healthy and being able to get on the field has been key to Newsome's development this preseason. The undrafted rookie out of Western Carolina has been adept in both the ground and pass games, totaling 115 yards on the ground and 66 through the air thus far. He's also found the end zone twice in three games.
Every running back brings something to the table, and the Bolts OC believes the steady improvement Newsome has made to his game week over week has been encouraging.
"Every one of them is different," he said. "If you look at Austin (Ekeler) and you look at Melvin (Gordon), those are two guys that are different. The thing is, (Newsome's) done a good job of where he started to the improvement he's made every week. He's made some big plays. It's always great to see young guys develop that way, kudos to him."
Another position that will be under close watch on Thursday is the offensive line. The group is chockfull rookies, including Colorado State product Zack Golditch. According to Whiz, the versatile former first-team All-Mountain West selection has shown improvement over the summer.
"If you had to say anything about Zack, from where he started to where he is now, he has gotten better. He's played a number of different positions for us, and that's not always easy. I think that his competitiveness is something that really stands out. You like what you see from him in that standpoint. I think flexibility was another thing because when you look at that position, if you're not going to be the starter, then what type of value do you have as a potential guard/tackle? Can you do both those positions? He's lined up at both of those spots during the course of camp. (Offensive Line) Coach (Pat) Meyer has done a great job of putting him in different spots in order to try to assess where he is as a player, and you've got to give Zack credit for working hard to get better. He's another one of those guys who's improved since the start of camp, and this game will be big for him. It will be a chance for him to show some consistency and how he competes over a number of plays."
The Chargers return to Hoag Performance Center to begin preparation for their final preseason game in San Francisco.