Questions everywhere as Chargers head to camp

Training camp is here...well almost. The San Diego Chargers have their share of questions marks starting from the top on down. Every position except running back has a spot up for grabs and anyone can take it with a strong camp. And they need a few players to step up and grasp the ladder in hopes they will help other players reach new heights.

QUARTERBACK: Starter -- Drew Brees. Backups -- Philip Rivers and Doug Flutie.

The team has lost confidence in Brees, and is ready to turn the offense over to Rivers. But it remains to be seen if Rivers will be ready or not. Not only does he have to absorb a fresh offense, he needs to be convinced his side-armed delivery will work in the NFL. Even if Rivers wins the job, there figures to be a steep learning curve ahead. Oh and don't forget that LT has come out publicly stating Brees deserves another shot.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- RB LaDainian Tomlinson, FB Lorenzo Neal. Backups -- RB Michael Turner, FB Andrew Pinnock.

Tomlinson is bona fide stud, and if he played on a better team the rest of the sporting world would know it. If the Chargers weren't consistently behind and forced to throw, he could make a run at 2,000 rushing yards. Neal is the real deal in opening running lanes, and is a big plus for Tomlinson. In Turner, the team feels it has a serviceable backup, and Pinnock is entering his second year -- although he rarely sees the field.

TIGHT END/H-BACK: Starter -- TE Antonio Gates. Backups -- TE Justin Peelle, Josh Norman.

The team unearthed a gem in Gates; he played basketball, and not football, at Kent State. His role continues to increase, especially with the high-priced and oft-injured Stephen Alexander off the roster. Peelle is a solid blocker and will be asked to do that again. Norman's stock has fallen of late, but he can still catch a pass here and there. Just signed Ryan Krause could easily force Norman out of a job.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Reche Caldwell and Eric Parker. Backups -- Tim Dwight, Kassim Osgood, Kevin Dyson.

David Boston is gone, but what he left behind amounts to a hill of beans. Caldwell has done nothing but disappoint since being a second-round pick in 2002. Parker's heart is huge, but it doesn't match his undersized body - his ability to stay healthy is iffy. Dwight, another shrimp of a pass-catcher, can't be counted on for 16 games as he's hell-bent style always lands him in the trainer's room. Osgood showed some promise late, but is unproven. Dyson is trying to squeeze another NFL season out of his banged-up body and with a one year deal he has some incentive to come out fighting. His work has been praised and he is in the mix to be the starter.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Roman Oben, LG Phil Bogle, C Jason Ball, RG Mike Goff, RT Courtney Van Buren. Backups -- G Toniu Fonoti, T Shane Olivea, C Nick Hardwick, T Carlos Joseph.

This unit is in flux, especially if Ball continues to play hardball with the Chargers over his contract. Oben should be OK at left tackle, but the school is still out on Van Buren on the right side. Goff is a steady pro, but Fonoti has to get closer to 350 pounds than his current 400 if he is going to contribute. Because of that, Bogle could be the opening day starter.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LE Igor Olshansky, NT Jamal Williams, RE Adrian Dingle. Backups -- LE Otis Leverette, LE David Ball, NT DeQuincy Scott, NT Jason Fisk, RE Shaun Phillips.

The Chargers have to find a pass rush -- something rarely seen in these parts last year. Dingle needs to find to increase his total of seven sacks, and Olshansky has to chip in from the get-go. There's a huge question here, and it revolves around the nose tackle position. Is Williams, at 304 pounds, big enough to man the spot in a 3-4? Fisk is undersized as well for that role. Phillips could be used on passing downs, same goes for Ball.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- OLB Steve Foley, ILB Donnie Edwards, ILB Randall Godfrey, OLB Ben Leber. Backups -- ILB Zeke Moreno, ILB Carlos Polk, OLB David Ball, OLB Shaun Phillips.

It's a new look here, with the team embracing the 3-4 after having so many troubles stopping the run last year. Edwards, who had an NFL second-best 162 tackles last year, is playing in his third different spot in as many years in San Diego. It'll be interesting to see if he's as productive, especially if the nose tackle position can't handle the double teams. Foley will be asked to supply the pressure much of the time off the edge. Godfrey is solid against the run, and should be fine. Leber is entering his third year, and as long as he doesn't have to drift back into pass coverage often, he's OK. Zeke Moreno and Carlos Polk may both be on the outside looking in with Stephen Cooper a more natural backup to Donnie Edwards and Matt Wilhelm still on the sidelines.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Quentin Jammer, RCB Sammy Davis, SS Terrence Kiel, FS Kwamie Lassiter. Backups -- CBs Kevin House, Jamar Fletcher, Drayton Florence, S Jerry Wilson, Vernon Fox, Hanik Milligan.

The secondary has to better than last year, when it helped surrender an NFL-high 36 touchdown passes. Jammer, in particular, showed great progress toward last season's second half. Davis needs to get bigger and better -- he did add some 10 pounds this offseason. Lassiter should return to the free safety spot, where his skills are better suited. The thinking is the Chargers will turn to Kiel, a second-year player coming fast, at strong safety. Kiel is ready.

SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Nate Kaeding; P Mike Scifres; LS David Binn; H Mike Scifres; PR Eric Parker; KR Leon Johnson.

The Chargers are hopeful turning this unit over to the youngsters -- especially the kicking game -- will help. Kaeding is a recent third-round pick, and Scifres is a fifth-round selection in 2003. Neither is tested at this level, and the Chargers aren't quite sure what to expect. Johnson showed some promise in the return role last year, but Parker has to stay fit to stay productive.

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