Chargers maintain status quo

Every year the San Diego Chargers pick a unit to upgrade. The offense was getting the bulk of the upgrades over the past few years but that has changed and depth was all that was needed. The offense returns every starter from a year ago.

For a change, the Chargers weren't forced to overhaul their offense during the offseason.

So it goes when you spit out a 12-4 record, win the AFC West title and have the bulk of their starters returning.

The Chargers will, though, continue to get away from the Marty Ball approach that was their staple in coach Marty Schottenheimer's first two seasons.

That's not to say Pro Bowl LaDainian Tomlinson won't get the majority of touches in the offense. But the unit has become much more diverse with the emergence of two other Pro Bowlers: quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Antonio Gates.

Some of the switch is a by-product of Tomlinson being bothered by a strained groin last year. With him less than 100 percent, the team had to spread the ball around more and was rewarded with an improved passing game.

There could be just one new starter on this side of the ball with veteran wide receiver Keenan McCardell. Reche Caldwell could be pushed from the starting lineup by McCardell, who be with the Chargers for the first time since joining the squad in October.

Caldwell had a good beginning to last season, but then hurt his knee and went to injured reserve just before McCardell was signed.

So McCardell will likely hold that spot, opposite Eric Parker.

Two other things are worth watching on this side of the ball.

Placekicker Nate Kaeding had a fine rookie year (20-of-25 on field goal attempts) but he missed a 40-yarder in the overtime loss to the Jets in the playoffs' opening round. It'll be interesting to see if that epic misfire haunts him this season.

Also, the Chargers offensive line was stellar last year -- especially when considering it featured five new starters. Hudson Houck was the position coach able to mold that unit so quickly, but he won't be in San Diego this season. Houck relocated to Miami, replaced by Carl Mauck, a former Chargers player and coach.

Lightning Quicks:

Tomlinson went back and received his degree in psychology from TCU. "I wanted to be the first one in my family to graduate from college," he said. "I felt it was important to finish something that I started and show that I didn't go to school just to play football."

SD Super Chargers Top Stories