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Mailbag: Who Will Be Philip Rivers' Main Target?

Q:  Who do you think will become Philip River's new favorite target? – Edward Bradley

A: Number 17 certainly has a treasure trove of weapons heading into the 2017 campaign. To be honest, I'm not sure if one player is going to emerge above the rest. Catching up with Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt this week, he explained how the team's deep arsenal of pass catchers allows the Bolts to alter the game plan from week to week based on the matchups. Still, if pressed to choose one, I don't know how you don't say Antonio Gates.  The pair rank at the top of nearly every quarterback-receiver duo, and it's safe to say Rivers will still trust his tight end in key situations.  Still, on any given week, Gates, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman or even first-round pick Mike Williams have the capability of emerging as Rivers' go-to target.

Q:  Who are a couple of young players who were drafted or signed previously this offseason, you think might take that next step this year? – Darren Tassone

A: I'm eager to see if Max Tuerk can take hold of a starting role this season.  I wrote about last year’s third round pick a week ago, and you can tell in his voice how determined he is to stake claim to one of the three starting interior positions.  Last year was a redshirt season for the USC product, which wasn't surprising as he was coming off a significant knee injury suffered late in his college career.  While this year's selections of Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney are making a lot of news, don't forget about Tuerk.

Q:  How big of an adjustment will the transition from a 3-4 to a base 4-3 defense be, and did that factor into this year's draft plans when we selected 1 DL and 0 LB? – Roger Oakes

A: The switch to this 4-3 defense should be an easy transition based on the type of 3-4 scheme the team employed last year.  The main difference with the front seven is you'll see Melvin Ingram, Jerry Attaochu and Chris Landrum with their hand in the ground at the LEO position up front.  Talking with the players, the spacing in Gus Bradley's scheme is similar to what they've done in the past, so it hasn't been as drastic a change as one might assume. To answer your second question, the switch had nothing to do with the team's draft plans; it's just the way things shook out.

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