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10 Insights: Rookie Class Making Early Impact on 2020 Season


Below are 10 quick-hitting insights about the Chargers' Week 3 matchup against the Carolina Panthers from SoFi Stadium:

1) Three members of the Panthers' 2020 offensive line played a combined 108 games for the Chargers from 2017-19: offensive tackle Russell Okung (36), offensive guard Michael Schofield (47) and offensive tackle Trent Scott (25). The unit is coached by Pat Meyer, who served as the Chargers offensive line coach during that same time frame.

2) Chargers guard Trai Turner will face his former team on Sunday. In six seasons with Carolina, Turner made the Pro Bowl five times. He was traded this offseason to Los Angeles for Okung.

3) Through the first two weeks of the season, the Chargers' 2020 rookie class has already made a significant impact. No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert passed for 311 yards, plus ran and threw for the first Chargers touchdowns in SoFi Stadium history, while nearly defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime; linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (No. 23 overall) leads the team in tackles with 18; fourth-round running back Joshua Kelley scored the team's only touchdown in Week 1 and totaled 113 yards in Week 2 against the Chiefs; and fifth-round wide receiver Joe Reed set up Kelley's touchdown in Week 1 with a 46-yard kick return, the team's longest since 2012.

4) Murray Jr. went head-to-head against Panthers rookie head coach Matt Rhule when Rhule was in charge at Baylor. In four matchups, Murray totaled 43 tackles (six for loss) and two sacks for Oklahoma. One of those games was a 17-tackle performance in 2018.

5) With one sack this Sunday, Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram will be the fourth player in team history with at least 50 for his career. The only other three players to reach that mark are Leslie O'Neal (105.5), Shaun Phillips (69.5) and Lee Williams (65.5). Ingram will have an opportunity to reach this feat against his hometown team. He played high school football just over 70 miles from where the Panthers play in Charlotte.

6) The Chargers are seeking their first 2-1 start since 2014.

7) Panthers rookie cornerback Troy Pride Jr. was college teammates with Chargers safety Alohi Gilman, linebacker Drue Tranquill, defensive tackle Jerry Tillery and defensive end Isaac Rochell at Notre Dame. Pride Jr. was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft at No. 113 overall – one selection after the Chargers selected Kelley.

8) This Sunday was supposed to showcase two of the most versatile running backs in the NFL in Austin Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey:

Table inside Article
2019 Season Receptions Yards Rec. TDs Offensive Snaps
Austin Ekeler 92 993 8 599
Christian McCaffrey 116 1,005 4 1,039

The Panthers placed McCaffrey on the reserve/injured list Wednesday with an ankle injury.

9) Los Angeles defensive tackle Linval Joseph was teammates with Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota from 2014-17. They'll face each other for the first time this Sunday.

10) The last time these teams played was Dec. 11, 2016, a 28-16 Panthers win at Bank of America Stadium. Tight end Hunter Henry scored a nine-yard receiving touchdown. In 2020, Henry has been targeted 16 times and has 11 catches for 156 yards – all career highs through the first two weeks of a season.

Take a look at the best photos of SoFi Stadium from the Bolts debut in it.

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