A Look at the Secondary

Might the San Diego Chargers' secondary be even younger than expected this season? <br><br> A peek at the depth chart shows Quentin Jammer, a second-year pro, at one corner. Who mans the other corner?

Tay Cody, a third-year pro mans the other corner, but he could be pushed by rookie Sammy Davis.

At safety, the early names penciled in are Ryan McNeil at free safety and Rogers Beckett at strong safety. McNeil is set, although the team still has to see how he transforms his cornerback skills of 11 years into being a free safety for the first time in the NFL.

But for the sake of this discussion, lets assume McNeil stays put -- and he doesn't have to switch back to corner to rescue the question mark opposite Jammer, the fifth overall pick of the 2002 draft.

But Beckett's name, at strong safety, is written in light pencil. It won't take much to erase his moniker if he struggles in camp and during the preseason games. Many Chargers insiders think some in the organization are being overly confident that Beckett's game will pick up enough to warrant a starting spot.

Beckett has been shown the bench before, as recent as last season. Coach Marty Schottenheimer never was enamored with the four-year pro, and replaced him with veteran Keith Lyle last year. Lyle's not around this year, but there's a couple of youngsters eager to get a long look at Beckett's spot.

Keep an eye on two players, in particular.

One is Terrence Kiel, the team's second-round pick in the recent draft. At Texas A&M, more than a few rival receivers had alligator arms when going across the middle. Kiel is a dynamite hitter, and was a big part of the Aggies' run defense. He plays on his toes, is aggressive and a sure-handed tackler.

But what he has to work on his is pass-coverage skills. That's a biggie, especially if Schottenheimer gets his way and the team employs the man-to-man defense. Kiel's speed isn't an issue, but his change of direction often allows receivers to haul in passes.

Kiel, though, will be pushed by Vernon Fox. He was an undrafted rookie last year out of Fresno State, and was often on Schottenheimer's lips as a player he admired. He played in every game in 2002, and collected three starts when Rodney Harrison was either injured or suspended.

Fox finished with 23 tackles, one interception and three passes defensed.

Beckett, who had 34 tackles and two passed defensed last year, will get first crack at replacing Harrison. But it's a spot in which the Chargers are open to experimenting, and that might mean making the secondary even younger.

If nothing else, it can't get worse than last year, as the team finished with the NFL's worst ranking against the pass.

In this case, change isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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