Training Camp Battle Preview: Wide Receiver

First-round pick Craig Davis has the upside, elusiveness and big-play ability. Eric Parker has the experience, toughness and discipline. So which player will be in the starting line-up on opening day? Although history says to err on the side of the veteran, a compelling argument can be made for giving the rookie a quick promotion.

Based on talent alone, Craig Davis deserves to be in the starting line-up. He has a great build (6-foot-1, 207 pounds) and terrific explosiveness for his size. Additionally, he has stellar body control and knows how to find soft spots in the defense.

"He has great run-after-the-catch ability," said Norv Turner of Davis. "That's something we felt we could add to our football team. This is another young guy who's certainly going to contribute and have an effect."

Eric Parker is still the frontrunner in this race based on seniority alone. Parker is in sync with quarterback Philip Rivers, earning him the nickname "The Bondsman" for frequently bailing out his quarterback.

"Eric is really important to us because he's different than the other receivers…He's sudden; he's quick; he runs excellent routes; and Philip has a great feel for throwing him the ball. (Eric) gives us that change-up guy in terms of style of routes," Turner said.

The only way for Davis for develop a similar bond with his quarterback is to get the repetitions that only come with running first string. But are the Chargers willing to take their lumps as Davis works up to full speed?

To answer that question, one must examine why Parker is so valuable to the Chargers. Parker earns his keep through leading by example and making plays on third-and-long. However, coming off the bench does not sacrifice his ability to do either.

As such, Davis should be given every opportunity to win a starter's role during the preseason. If Davis delivers in a big way, then bring Parker off the pine in three-receiver sets and obvious passing situations. If Davis flounders, then stick with Parker until the rookie is ready.

Davis must first overcome the nagging injuries that stunted his development before he mounts a real challenge to Parker, who one of the hardest working players in the league. But if Davis proves to be healthy and quick on the uptake, anything is possible.

However, the smart money is on Parker maintaining his spot, at least early in the season.


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