Monday Afternoon: Secondary Challenges

With the defense besting an injury ridden offense in the morning session on Monday, The San Diego Chargers entered the days afternoon practice with renewed optimism. This time the optimism lies with the defense as the dominance continued into the afternoon...

With the wrath of injuries to the top wideouts, it was left to Tim Baker, Onome Ojo, Terry Charles, Brian Sump, and Jeremy McDaniel to match up against the young and talented Charger secondary. While they gave good effort, it proved no match for a motivated secondary.

After covering the likes of David Boston, Tim Dwight, Eric Parker, and Reche Caldwell in previous scrimmages, the young secondary could smell blood with them out of the lineup. After playing well as of late, the confidence level should be higher which should result in higher levels of play.

The challenges facing the secondary are well known as the revamped unit has many questions to be answered....

Who will start and where?

This is a pressing concern. With the 1st preseason game only 5 days away, the starting unit has been Quentin Jammer and Tay Cody manning the cornerback spots with Kwamie Lassiter at strong safety and Ryan McNeil at free safety. With surprise rookie Drayton Florence continuing to shine, coaches are trying to figure out how to get him on the field. He is already considered the frontrunner for the #1 kickoff returner and now Jim Trotter of the Union Tribune reports that Marty Schottenheimer along with AJ Smith are seriously considering switching him to free safety. If this move were to take place then....

What happens to Ryan McNeil?

Making a transition from corner to safety this offseason, McNeil has been vocal and aggresive at his new position. Being one of the only defensive backs with experience really increases his value to this unit and if Florence gets the starting free safety spot, McNeil could be a third safety in nickel or dime situations and/or an extra cornerback.

Sammy Davis or Tay Cody opposite Quentin Jammer?

First round pick Sammy Davis(Texas A&M) recently returned from a heel injury and is quietly closing the gap on Tay Cody for the starting corner spot opposite Quentin Jammer. This is not to knock Cody as he has been outstanding in camp thus far, it's just that Davis is better suited to start(more size and speed plus he's a first rounder) while Cody seems better suited as a nickel/dime corner.

The interesting thing with Davis is that while he doesn't really jump out at you in practices making interceptions or batting away a bunch of passes, you rarely see him getting beat. Basically, he usually has his man covered and quarterbacks are forced to throw elsewhere.

It‚s also possible that Florence wins the cornerback spot opposite Jammer leaving Cody and Davis to battle for the nickel spot. This would enable the Chargers to have the two veterans man the safety spots and guide the youngsters through what figures to be baptism under fire.

One could assume that it's in the teams best interest to answer these questions sooner rather than later as the chemistry and communication needed to challenge the passing attacks in the AFC West will take time to develop.

There will certainly be successes, but just as certain errors. Marty was quoted saying "speed is our margin for error in this game."

It's a good thing these young guys can fly. September 7th is just around the corner.

Will Mortensen can be reached at

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