The Chargers will take on the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday at Qualcomm Stadium in the first preseason game of 2015.
Here are three things to watch for if you're a Chargers fan:
**The Emergence of Melvin Gordon. Melvin Gordon, the team's first-round pick, was snagged by general manager Tom Telesco, who traded up for the Wisconsin running back in the draft. The expectations are high, as the Chargers held the third-worst ground game in the NFL in 2014. Gordon has been strong in training camp -- only missing one practice to take a rest day -- and has impressed with zigs and zags and an ability to move between the tackles. But, it's training camp. The true test is on him now, with the main question being: Is this guy the real deal at the professional level, where there are actual tacklers and every player is elite (as opposed to college, where only a few players are truly good)? No matter what happens Thursday night, it's fair to say we've got to give Gordon time to evolve and find his identity in the NFL.
**The Continuity of the Offensive Line. For almost a week, D.J. Fluker has been working at right guard, with Joe Barksdale at tackle. It's been a learning curve for Fluker, who's expressed a desire to learn but also, has beeen hindered by frustration at times. The O-Line is an experiment that has to work for the Chargers -- it struggled last year due to injuries, and the Chargers paid dearly for it in their run game and pass protection. We're still not sure if Fluker will remain at guard or be moved back to tackle, but either way, you're looking for some kind of cohesion and continuity on the offensive line, and the ability to jel.
**Who Plays Opposite Eric Weddle at the Safety Position. Don't make too much of who starts, because I have a feeling the Chargers will rotate Jahleel Addae and Jimmy Wilson during the first and second preseason game. But, the two are the frontrunners for the competition at strong safety, and will want to showcase what they have with some big plays.
I don't expect the starters (including Gordon) to get more than a series or maybe 5-10 snaps. There won't be a TON we can take away from Thursday night, but really, what you want is good communication, guys to get their kinks out and some confidence to be built.