by Marty Caswell
You can’t get too high or too low after the first pre-season game of the season but Chargers head coach Mike McCoy came away from watching film and said there were a lot of good things he took away from it, including the overall effort of returning veterans and the rookies alike.
“The thing that really stood out is the effort and the energy the players played with. I think it was outstanding. It was something we talked about with the defense, every play, running to the football. I can name a number of plays in there that you see that, the second effort of guys, getting off the pile, running to the ball even though they’re not close to making the play but They’re all finishing towards the ball going the right direction. The team creating two turnovers to set up 14 points for the offense, giving them a shorter field. That’s big in any game you play in.”
Turnover differential has been a point of focus and the Chargers created two of them last night, Patrick Robinson recovered Brandon Weeden’s high snap for a loss of 35 yards and Tourek Williams recovered another fumble that led to a shorter field for the offense and an eventual 14 points.
McCoy was pleased with the tackling, another point of emphasis during camp.
“Not a lot of missed tackles, I think the defense said there were seven so that’s not a bad start.”
McCoy confirmed offensive guard Johnnie Troutman and outside linebacker Tourek Williams will miss “some time” after sustaining injuries in the opener. According to reports, Troutman, who had his right hand wrapped and his arm in a sling during the game, has a broken arm and Williams a broken foot.
McCoy says they’re undergoing further evaluation and no decision has been made to place them on injured reserve at this time.
Troutman’s absence will continue to fuel speculation that D.J. Fluker will get extensive time at right guard. Not surprisingly, McCoy wouldn’t commit to moving forward with the same starting five from last night, which from left to right reads King Dunlap, Orlando Franklin, Chris Watt, D.J. Fluker and Joe Barksdale.
Philip Rivers said the communication on the new look offensive line will continue to get better “but I’m thankful we have a month” and McCoy echoed those sentiments, saying “The more reps you take together, the better you’re going to be.”
The highly anticipated debut of running back Melvin Gordon was a small sample size with just six carries for 11 yards. As will be the case the next three pre-season games and really the rest of the season, it will be a work in progress as his knowledge of the playbook and the offense continues to evolve.
“We watched his film and too many missed opportunities up front, I think. It’s one guy, we’ll only be as good as our weakest link so we’ve got to finish some blocks better at the second level. The first play of the game we didn’t block it correctly so there was a free guy in the backside. If we block the guy on the backside, who knows how far he goes.”
“There’s a couple other plays in there, it’s the same thing, finish a little more at the second level. But it’s work in progress. It’s the first pre-season game. We’re going to learn from it. With him running it, learning how to set certain blocks up, pressing the line of scrimmage, he’s a talented player and you can see if we do things the right way, he’ll be very successful.
McCoy said he’s very pleased with the continued progress of second year player Michael Huey at center, but he reserved his lavish praise for rookie outside linebacker Kyle Emanuel, who recorded his first NFL sack and forced a fumble.
“We’re very happy with the way he’s picked up the system. The way Mike Nolan and the defensive staff have worked with him, kind of educated him, John Pagano, the rest of the staff, they’ve really educated him the way we want to play it. He’s a football player. He only knows how to do it one way. He plays extremely hard, he sets the edge, you see how he can get after the quarterback like he did last night. It’s all effort every play and you just love his mentality and his makeup. We’re very fortunate to have him here.”
The Chargers return to practice on Saturday morning at 9:20. It is open to the public.