Starters Shine Again as Bolts Win

The Chargers bagged their first win of the preseason with a coast-to-coast triumph over Dallas, 20-7. As is always the case during the preseason, the game film is more important than the final score; Norv Turner will like what he sees on Monday.

More Vinsanity

Vincent Jackson is back and on a mission. He shined during the preseason opener, hauling in a 48-yard pass on the offense's third play, and was at it again in Dallas. QB Philip Rivers targeted Jackson on four of his first seven attempts, going 3-for-4 for 49 yards on those tries.

If Antonio Gates can stay healthy, Rivers will have the benefit of throwing to two of the top-10 pass catchers in the league. Luckily, even Gates' backup has some skills, as Randy McMichael showed by corralling a 10-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter.

Chargers fans should enjoy the Jackson-Gates duo while it's here. Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and will step into a market that just saw Larry Fitzgerald cash in with an eight-year, $120 million deal. The Chargers won't offer Jackson anything in that ballpark, but odds are someone else will.

Ready to Run?

RB Ryan Mathews
Ronald Martinez/Getty
The running game remains inconsistent. As a team, the Chargers averaged just 3.5 yards on 26 rushing attempts. There was also another fumble, this one courtesy Mike Tolbert, which prompted flashbacks to fumble-happy ways of last season.

A bright spot was growth by Ryan Mathews, who got the most out of his seven carries, including a 15-yard scoring jaunt shortly before halftime. He showed vision and determination, impressing Coach Turner in the process.

Young Bucks

The youth movement on the defensive line is already starting to pay dividends. First-rounder Corey Liuget got extended playing time for the second straight week and responded with a sack-and-strip of Cowboys QB Stephen McGee early in the fourth quarter. Liuget was active all night long and appears to be a real find.

Third-year man Vaughn Martin also got in on the action with a couple of sacks, while sophomore Cam Thomas anchored well against the run. It is quickly becoming clear these linemen will be asked to do more than control gaps -- these youngsters have the athleticism to create penetration and Greg Manusky will give them an opportunity.

Miscellaneous Musings

--Good things are happening in the kicking game. Kickoff specialist Ricky Schmitt recorded touchbacks on four of his five kickoffs, sending a couple of them out of the back of the end zone. Nate Kaeding was perfect on both of his field goal attempts, including a 53-yard make in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.

--The secondary reserves, who looks shoddy against the Seahawks, showed better in Dallas. Second-year man Darrell Stuckey and third-round pick Shareece Wright, in particular, helped themselves with strong performances. An ankle injury slowed Wright during training camp but he looks fit now and is showing why GM A.J. Smith took a chance on him. Undrafted rookie CB Ramon Broadway (Arkansas) is also playing well and has likely earned himself a spot on the practice squad.

--Another undrafted rookie, LB Darryl Gamble (Georgia), cooled down considerably. He got the start as Shaun Phillips, Travis LaBoy and Antwan Barnes all took the night off. Gamble was handled by fellow rookie RT Tyron Smith and even blew an easy tackle-for-loss opportunity on RB Felix Jones.

--Eric Weddle picked off Tony Romo late in the first quarter, using great anticipation to undercut a throw intended for WR Kevin Ogletree. San Diego scored a TD on the ensuing possession and finished with 10 points off of turnovers.

Talk about Sunday night's Chargers-Cowboys contest inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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