Youngsters look to bail out ‘The Bondsman'

Eric Parker is the consummate professional. He is known by his peers as "The Bondsman" for his uncanny ability to consistently bail his team out of tough situations. In an ironic twist, it is a cracked sesamoid bone in Parker's right foot that has the team in a jam; and it will be up to an inexperienced group of receivers to step up and help the Bolts make bail.

Eric Parker will likely be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, meaning he will miss at least the first six games of the season. The Chargers have two options for filling that vacancy in the starting line-up: two-year veteran Malcom Floyd and rookie Craig Davis.

However, neither is as crafty as the six-year veteran.

"Being big, fast, running and jumping is all great. But if you're not dependable, it doesn't matter. He's a guy I know I can count on," said Philip Rivers of Parker.

Floyd started strong last season, totaling 15 catches for 210 yards and three scores before landing on the Injured-Reserve list in Week 13 with an ankle injury. Floyd has great size (6 foot 5, 225 lbs.) and speed, making him both a deep threat and a red-zone force. Nonetheless, he still needs to work on rounding out his game and becoming more aggressive over the middle.

"All of our receivers have a lot of positives," Floyd said. "I think all of our receivers have a chance to be Pro Bowl-type guys. Any one of us can have a big game at any time, because our offense has talent all over the place."

Davis has been the star of training camp, routinely making outside-the-frame catches and stretching the field like no Charger has done since Curtis Conway left town. He enjoys a great chemistry with Rivers but lacks game-day experience.

With Floyd and Davis set to assume larger roles, other players must step up to prevent depth from falling off. Kassim Osgood could see significant time on offense, as his combination of height (6 foot 5) and physicality gives most nickel-backs fits.

Greg Camarillo is another candidate for increased playing time, as his style closely resembles Parker's. Both are precise route runners with strong hands and relentless work ethics. When the team faces third-and-long situations, Camarillo can find soft spots in coverages and get there in a hurry.

Legedu Naanee will be involved on a limited basis, as the team has designed for him a small package of plays that best exploits his athleticism and versatility. Naanee will also see time at tight end, but will likely focus on playing receiver during Parker's absence.

"My impact will be primarily as a receiver, but I think they want me to play in a lot of different spots just to create some good match-ups," Naanee said.

Parker will certainly be missed, but the Chargers are well prepared to cope with his absence. Firstly, the Chargers love to use one-receiver, two-tight end sets, in which only No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson is on the field. Secondly, Antonio Gates is more than capable of carrying the passing game on his broad shoulders. Finally, the Chargers' running game can float the offense and ensure Parker's replacement of single-coverage opportunities.

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