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Mailbag: Tight Ends & the Effect of New Rule Changes

Q: The only tight end I recognize is Antonio Gates. Should I be concerned? - Charley Brackenridge

A:  You should never be concerned by a tight ends group that boasts Antonio Gates at the top of the pecking order.  He’s firmly established as one of the greatest to have ever played the game, and remains among the best in the league.  However, there is a dearth of experience right now behind him with three tight ends who have never played a snap for the Chargers.  Sean McGrath has the most experience, but he hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since retiring following the 2013 season before making a comeback midway through last season.  Still, the 28-year old led all Kansas City Chiefs tight ends in 2013 with 26 receptions for 302 yards and two touchdowns. The other two tight ends include Asante Cleveland, who has appeared in 10 games with one catch over two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots and was claimed off waivers late last season, and 6-8, 267-pound Tim Semisch who finished 2015 on the Bolts’ practice squad. It’s safe to say San Diego will add to the position group either through veteran free agents in the coming months, the draft, college free agents or even roster cuts at the end of training camp.  Tight end is one position to keep an eye on moving forward.

Q: Which new rule will have the biggest impact on the Chargers? – Lucas Blackburn

A:  Good question.  The one I am most intrigued by is the new kickoff rule in which touchbacks will result in the ball being placed at the 25 yard line instead of the 20. After all, Josh Lambo proved to have one of the strongest legs in the NFL last season.  His 65.9 yards per kickoff average was the fourth highest in the NFL, and he forced a touchback on 41 of his 72 attempts (56.9%). I asked Lambo how it would affect him the day the new rule passed, and he said it was too soon to tell.  He explained how he’d get a better feel for it once the team returns for the offseason program and he discusses it with the coaching staff, but it is likely that the new rule will have an impact for every team.

Q: Why does coach McCoy defer when we win the coin toss? Don't we want the football to get a quick start and not give the ball to the other team for them to score first?– David Valez

A:  Mike McCoy’s preference to defer until the second half is becoming the norm in the NFL, and is a strategy I believe every team should deploy.  The opportunity to score at the end of the first half, get the ball back and score again can have game-changing ramifications.  You are giving your team a chance to post 14 straight points without the opposition even touching the ball.

Q:  Who is Dexter McCoil? I see him on the roster but don’t remember signing him. – Blake Thompson

A:  The Chargers signed the CFL import in mid-January, and he is a 6-4, 240-pound hybrid defender capable of playing both inside linebacker and safety.  He was highly productive over two seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos, posting 76 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions and one fumble recovery as Edmonton captured the 2015 Grey Cup Championship.  He was also the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2014 when he had 67 tackles and four sacks and tied for the league-lead with six interceptions, including three returns for touchdowns.  The Bolts have had success with CFL stars in recent years, and hope he can be the next.

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