Strong Safety: Marcus Gilchrist vs. Jahleel Addae
After spending his first two seasons at cornerback, Gilchrist made the switch to strong safety last season. He started all 16 games and put up 77 tackles, two interceptions, five pass break-ups, a sack and a forced fumble. As a converted cornerback, the hope was that Gilchrist would shore up the team's leaky pass defense. But instead he struggled in coverage and did not offer much as an in-the-box defender.
Addae beat the odds to make the roster as an undrafted rookie and saw his playing time increase as the season progressed. He became a key figure in the nickel and dime packages and graded out as a top-40 safety by Pro Football Focus. He flashed power and range but had difficulties diagnosing plays and holding up in man coverage. More of a traditional strong safety, Addae is the early favorite in this competition.
Wide Receiver: Malcom Floyd vs. Vincent Brown
This battle is more about health than ability. Floyd played in only two games last season because of a serious neck injury. He has been cleared to return, but it remains to be seen how his body will hold up when the hitting starts for real in training camp. Even if he responds well, the team may prefer to limit his snaps to make sure he can stay healthy through the duration of the season. Then again, it is difficult to restrict a healthy Floyd, as he is one of the game's premier deep threats. And pending an immediate impact by seventh-round pick Tevin Reese, Floyd is the only real deep threat on the roster.
Brown entered the 2013 season with much hype after a promising rookie season (and a sophomore campaign lost to a pectoral injury). But he was held mostly in check, finishing with modest numbers (41 catches, 472 yards, 1 TD). The hope is that a second season in Mike McCoy's system will get Brown's arrow pointing upwards yet again. But if he fails to become a more consistent threat, his starting status will surely be lost.
Nose Tackle: Sean Lissemore vs. Ryan Carrethers
San Diego's defense stabilized after Lissemore moved into the starting lineup late last season. Although he is more of a natural defensive end in a three-man front, Lissemore played with better discipline and technique than the man he supplanted, Cam Thomas, who has since moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 15 games, including two starts, he recorded 24 tackles, two sacks and an interception.
While Lissemore will stay a big part of the rotation, likely playing multiple positions, it is possible -- perhaps even likely -- he will cede the starting position to fifth-round pick Carrethers, a 337-pound stopper out of Arkansas State. Blessed with superb strength and a wrestling background, Carrethers has the combination of size and leverage to be an excellent defensive anchor, especially on first and second downs.
Who will win these training camp battles? Discuss inside the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 18 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.
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