Bolts secondary faces huge test against the Lions


The Chargers spent their last two offseasons preparing for Sunday’s game.

Man, are the Detroit Lions that good? Maybe.

What we do know is they like to fling it around. The team that gave us Barry Sanders now licks its fingers over suspect secondaries.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is a childhood friend of Clayton Kershawn and whose throwing arm is stronger is debatable.

Calvin Johnson has few peers as a wide receiver and he’ll slow down some day, right?

Golden Tate is opposite Johnson after arriving from Seattle with his sparkling Super Bowl ring. Say what? The Seahawks didn’t give the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the goal line — that’s right.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Tate said. “I’m sure that’s not the way that they drew it out.”

The Bolts’ blueprint for two years is clear: find cornerbacks to combat top-notch receiving tandems. In 2014 that meant burning a first-round pick on cornerback Jason Verrett. He showed flashes his rookie season, but a bum shoulder cost him 10 games.

“We know what he went through last year,” coach Mike McCoy said. “And with the reps he’s taken with the same guys, over and over again, he’s gained confidence. He only knows how to compete one way. He’s not going to take any days off.”

Brandon Flowers could have fled for greener pastures. But he stayed put, signing as a free agent for another go-around with the Chargers.

Verrett and Flowers, or is it Flowers and Verrett, have a stiff test in the NFL’s first weekend. The Chargers are calling it “White Hot Sunday” but we’ll go with “Watch Out Sunday.”

“They are going to make their plays,” McCoy said of the Lions. “They’ve got a great quarterback and (Johnson) is a great receiver. So we got to go out and make sure where certain players are on certain plays.”

Tate, a Pro Bowler, heard the chatter about Verrett. All Tate says is bring it on.

“He’s a good, young corner,” Tate said. “He’s aggressive as well…

“But one thing I’ve always thought going into every game is it’s not about who we play. It’s about what we do. I’ve gone through camp and made this team for a reason. And I was going against (Darius) Slay and (Rashean) Mathis every day in camp, who knew me like the back of my hand. So if I can beat those guys I’ve seen every day, I feel like I can go out and beat anybody on Sunday.”

In Flowers, Tate respects his experience.

“He’s a pretty quick guy who’s physical and has a lot of knowledge of the game,” Tate said. “So I’m going to definitely have to not give away any of my routes, or tip them any.”

Here’s some advice from Tate for any receiver: watch that lanky pass-catcher knows as Megatron.

“He’s the model receiver,” Tate said of Johnson. “He’s the model guy that you want to follow every footstep and be just like him. He works hard. He’s one of the first guys in the locker room, and one of the last to leave. His work ethic is second to none, and he’s obviously gifted. He makes my job a lot easier, I’ll tell you that.”

Flowers and Verrett don’t get to ease into the season. On what promises to be a Sunday scorcher, their goal is not to get burned.


+ Jay Paris at Follow him on Twitter at @jparis_sports.


VIDEO: In this week’s Road to Sunday, Joe Tutino and Jay Paris break down the Chargers first game of the 2015 season against the Detroit Lions.



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