Many try to argue that the fourth preseason game lacks drama.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
While it doesn't hold the same intrigue as a regular season game, the final preseason contest doesn't lack for theatre. After all, some players' livelihoods may come down to how they perform. It may make the difference between earning a spot on the 53-man roster, or serving as the last time you ever put on a football uniform.
Now, that doesn't make tonight's contest against the San Francisco 49ers the end all be all for the Bolts. Head Coach Anthony Lynn made as much clear when he gave an honest assessment of what goes into deciding if a player makes the team or not.
"First of all, does he know what he's doing after training camp?" Lynn noted. "Is he consistent? Dependable? In shape – good enough shape to finish a ball game? And then we ask, does he have enough talent? I kind of like it in that order because I've been around this league long enough to know that it takes more than talent to win a championship. So (we) look at those things hard."
Players can showcase all of the above one last time Thursday night. It's one last chance to make an impression, and not just for your current team.
Just ask Kenny Wiggins.
"I like to not think of it as the one game that defined the decision if I was on the team or not, because it's not just based on this last game," he said. "It's about the whole body of work from OTAs to training camp to all the other preseason games, too. But this is the game I always felt where if you do get cut, other teams may pick you up. That's exactly how I got to the Chargers. I was on San Francisco, and we played the Chargers in the last preseason game. I played well, (got cut), and two days later I'm a Charger. So that's just how it is."
Branden Oliver agreed with that assessment.
"This game, it means a lot," he said. "I remember Danny (Woodhead) telling me he made his first team after his last preseason game. He said he went for like 200 yards, or something like that. And he felt that was how he made it. That's something that always stuck with me. Really, it's like that for every game, but really for this last one. When you're a younger guy trying to make the team, you have to leave it all out there no matter what time it is or phase it is. Offense, defense or special teams; leave it all out there. And you have to remember, you're putting film out there for every team, not just this one. That's what I'll always remember."
A multitude of Chargers believe they are where they are today thanks to their performance in that make or break last game, including Tyrell Williams. Now a 1,000-yard receiver, the then Western Oregon product was doing everything he could to prove he deserved a spot on the 53-man roster. He did just that with a 75-yard touchdown.
"That last game is big because it gives you a chance to show coaches what you are like in a real game. You aren't just playing the fourth quarter. You get to play the whole game from the start, and can play offense (or defense) and special teams. You can show how you adjust over a game when the other team makes an adjustment. And then, it's wait and see. I tried to go through my normal routine and not think about it. I wouldn't call it scary, but It was nerve-wracking. You just sit there waiting for a call. Anytime your phone lights up, you get nervous. Just hope you did enough to prove (you deserved) a spot."