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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Cardinals

The Bolts are back! The Los Angeles Chargers take the field for the first time in 2018 when they visit the Arizona Cardinals for their preseason opener. Kickoff on Saturday is set for 7:00pm PT at University of Phoenix Stadium.

What to Watch For…

On Offense for the Chargers

The league’s reigning number one passing attack and fourth overall offense looks to pick up where it left off in 2017. Philip Rivers is fresh off one of his best seasons in a surefire Hall of Fame career, yet it’s the two quarterbacks battling to back him up who’ll be under the microscope in Geno Smith and Cardale Jones. Two other players to keep your eye on are Mike Williams, who has looked terrific after an injury-riddled rookie campaign, and Virgil Green, the veteran tight end the Bolts signed in the offseason.

On Offense for the Cardinals

All eyes will be on Arizona’s quarterbacks as veteran Sam Bradford and first-round pick Josh Rosen will make their Cardinals debut. Originally the first overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft by the Rams, Bradford most recently spent time with the Eagles (2015) and Vikings (2016-17). He’s started all 80 games he’s played, completing 1,805-of-2,887 attempts (62.5 percent) for 19,049 yards, 101 TDs, 57 INTs and an 85.1 passer rating. Meanwhile, the Cardinals traded up to select Rosen with the 10th overall pick. He was a three-year starter at UCLA where he completed 712-of-1,170 passes (60.0 percent) for 9,340 yards and 59 TDs. In addition, this game marks the return of running back David Johnson, who suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2017 season.

On Defense for the Chargers

L.A.’s suffocating defense is back after one of their best seasons in franchise history. The Bolts ranked third in the NFL in points against (17.0), which was their lowest since 1992. The Chargers also ranked third in the NFL against the pass, were the best in the red zone, posted a plus-12 turnover margin which ranked third and had the fifth-most sacks. This week, fans get to watch two new additions to the group when they catch their first glimpses of first-round pick Derwin James and second-round selection Uchenna Nwosu in their NFL debuts.

On Defense for the Cardinals

The Bolts must keep an eye on Chandler Jones, who led the NFL and set a franchise record with 17.0 sacks in 2017. The linebacker also led the league with 28.0 tackles for loss, which were seven more than any other defender. Meanwhile, Arizona’s secondary features one of the top cornerbacks in the game, Patrick Peterson, as well as a familiar face in former Charger Tre Boston.

Series History

The Chargers are 9-4 against the Cardinals all-time and are 14-9 against Arizona in the preseason. The two teams last met in the preseason on Aug. 19, 2016, a 19-3 Chargers victory. In the last meeting in the regular season on Sept. 8, 2014, the Cardinals scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to win, 18-17.

By the Numbers

In 2017, the Chargers ranked fourth in total offense (376.6 yards per game), first in passing (276.9 ypg), 24th in rushing (99.7 ypg) and 13th in points (22.2). The Cardinals ranked 22nd in total offense (314.1 ypg), 15th in passing (227.5 ypg), 30th in rushing (86.6 ypg) and 25th in points (25.6).

Defensively, the Bolts ranked 15th in total defense (328.4 ypg), third in passing (197.2 ypg), 31st in rushing (131.1 ypg) and third in points allowed (17.0). Arizona ranked sixth in total defense (310.9 ypg), 14th in passing (221.3 ypg), sixth in rushing (89.6 ypg) and 19th in points allowed (22.6).

Connections

Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was the head coach for Arizona (2007-12) where he led the club to its first NFC Championship crown resulting in an appearance in Super Bowl XLIII – the first in franchise history.

C/G Cole Toner played in Arizona in 2016.

Strength & Conditioning Coach John Lott coached in Arizona from 2007-16.

Arizona safety Tre Boston spent the 2017 season with the Chargers.

Head Coach Steve Wilks coached defensive backs for the Chargers from 2009-11.

Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy was the head coach of the Chargers from 2013-16.

Tight Ends Coach Jason Michael coached for the Chargers in 2011.

Defensive Line Coach Don Johnson coached for the Chargers for two seasons (2013-15).

Broadcast Information

KABC-TV – Spero Dedes (play-by-play), LaDainian Tomlinson (analyst) and Hayley Elwood (sideline)

KFI-AM 640 – Matt “Money” Smith (play-by-play), Daniel Jeremiah (analyst) and Shannon Farren (sideline)

Spanish Radio: KFWB – AM 980 – Mario Solis (play-by-play) and Jorge Villanueva (analyst)

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