Preseason game #3, Time To Get Serious

The third preseason game against the Houston Texans should prove to be the most important for the San Diego Chargers. With cut's coming soon here's what's on tap...

The third preseason game should prove to be the most important for the San Diego Chargers, as they look to gain their first victory against the Houston Texans... With the first two games of preseason being used mainly to evaluate young talent, look for a more competitive approach on Saturday night. Both teams may see the majority of their starters play well into the second half, which makes for a good match up. The Texans play good defense running a complicated 3-4 scheme. The Chargers play Martyball and feature a power running attack that leads the preseason NFL in yards per carry(5.1). The Texans, like the bolts are 0-2 in preseason and will be looking for a victory. To add fuel to the fire, cut downs are near and players will be looking to make some lasting impressions on their respective organizations.

Adding more intrigue to this game is the fact that teams like to take it easy in the final preseason game, often limiting the starters playing time to prevent injury. This makes the third game the only chance for an offense or defense to establish a flow that carries over into the second half of a game. Look for more game planning and scheming this time around as coordinators look to hone their skills as well.

Going in to the game the Chargers have many things to look for. With a minor heel injury suffered earlier this week Ladanian Tomlinson may have to sit this one out. Although he feels much better, it doesn't seem likely the team will let him tote the rock with the "real" game not far ahead. To add complications to this matter is the fact that LT is a warrior and will play through pain. Many of his friends and family will be on hand to witness him in action, so Marty may have a hard time denying his star running back.

David Boston has missed his share of practices mostly due to minor ailments and he went down this week, don't look for him to see extended playing time, if any at all. It would be nice to have him in the lineup on a consistent basis so he and his quarterback can keep the chemistry and timing going. A trip to Arrowhead is not too far beyond the horizon.

One positive is the return of Marcellus Wiley, who may also receive just limited time. His injury was of the hamstring/buttocks sort, so the trainers may want to play this one extra careful.

Leonardo Carson adds some mischief to the defensive line rotation with his recent arrest. He should be at the game and it will be interesting to see how his playing time shakes out. The coaches are high on Jacques Cesaire who coincidentally saw time with the first team in Leo's absence on Thursday. Jacques played very well against Arizona, often penetrating into the backfield to blow up run plays. A solid performance against the Texans could seal the deal for him.

Some battles are coming down to the wire and this game will be the determining factor for many of them:

Darren Bennet's battle with 5th round pick Mike Scifres has proved to be a good one. Mike has the edge in distance and hang time, while Darren is the master at pinning opponents deep. Darren also holds a slight edge in consistency.

. Mackenzie Hoambrecker is suffering from lack of repetitions in his battle with Steve Christie. Mackenzie can nail them in practice but has only seen one attempt in two preseason games. Unfortunately, his attempt hit the upright as his nerves appeared to have gotten the best of him. He will need a strong showing in the final two games if he plans to beat out the veteran. Yeah, let's put more pressure on him.(sorry Mackenzie).

Tay Cody and Sammy Davis are dead even in Marty Schottenheimers eyes. Tay played a good game against Arizona and will need another to fend off hard charging Sammy Davis. Problem is that Cody wil sit out with a mild hamstring strain.If they are dead even and Sammy is a 1st rounder and bigger and faster, we all know what's coming. Just a matter of time perhaps? Let's hope they do the right thing in the event Cody is beaten out. Keep him.

The back up linebacker position is still completely in orbit. Doesn't look like Zeke Moreno is letting go of his spot anytime soon. He was lightin' em up against Arizona. Donnie Edwards is a lock. Ditto Ben Leber. Hard to get a read on Carlos Polk, he seems to be too much a part of the nickel package to be released. If they can get the same play from Matt Wilhelm though....ya never know. Lemarcus McDonald performs better in games than practices and is a special teams stand out, I like his chances. Stephen Cooper doesn't stand out a whole bunch. Jordan Kramer at this point is still a longshot. Jude Waddy impressed in the first game but an injury has set him back a bit.

The battle for the fourth defensive end spot is another good one. Otis Leverette, Omari Hand and Kris Dielman are dooking this one out. Leverette has always had the leg up and probably still does. Hand is so strong against the run that it'll be hard to get rid of him. Dielman is the project guy with the upside and the motor.(practice squad?)

The running back spot has everyone wandering as well. We all know about LT.Jesse Chatman is productive, plays special teams and is a hard worker. He looks to make a second go round with the Chargers. Dahrran Diedrick has looked good and has appeared to move up on the depth chart. A solid showing may wrap him up a spot. Nick Maddox is not far behind and another strong showing from him could throw a wrench into Diedrick's plans. Demarco McClesky hasn't seen extensive action and will have a tough time latching on.

Fullbacks Joey Goodspeed and Andrew Pinnock are deadlocked in a battle to back up Lorenzo Neal. Joey has worked hard, been a good special teams performer, and good blocker, while Pinnock has more talent and is 2 for 2 on short yardage conversions, which is one of the reasons he was drafted. Can they afford to keep both?

The wide receiver battle is on. We know the top four so let's go straight to the last one or two spots. Frontrunners are Terry Charles, Kassim Osgood, Grant(touchdown)Mattos, and Dondre Gilliam. I'm not even going to touch this one.

The third quarterback spot looks as if Cleo Lemon has taken the lead over Seth Burford. This one may carry over to the last preseason game.

On the offensive line, other than the starting five, Courtney Van Buren, Toniu Fonoti, and Phil Bogle are virtual locks. That leaves one maybe two spots for Cory Raymer, Bob Hallen, and Michael Keathley. Keathley is Tomlinson's college buddy, so he has that going for him.

Quentin Jammer, Sammy Davis, Drayton Florence, and Tay Cody look to be the top four cornerbacks. That leaves maybe one spot for Tony Okanlowan, Kevin House, and Cedric Henry. Okanlowan has looked the best.

Many things to look for, battles to watch and errors to fix. Will this be a game where the Chargers put ut all together? Throw the other two out the window and really take a good look at this next one. We should get a better feel for the Chargers this Saturday in Houston. Charger fans can hope this won't be the teams only trip to Houston this year as that's where the big one will be played in January. It's time to get serious...

Will Mortensen

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