Chargers-Seahawks Preview

Tonight, the Chargers will kickoff a new season against an old divisional foe, as the Seattle Seahawks come to town for a 5 p.m. kickoff. Although the teams are unlikely to rekindle the drama of last season -- when Vincent Jackson led the Chargers to a 20-17 victory by hauling in his second touchdown with 29 seconds left -- there will be plenty to play for in the preseason opener for both clubs.

A changing of the guard

This game will give the Seahawks a first-hand look at the player they narrowly missed out on in free agency, Kris Dielman. Instead, the Seahawks will trot out promising sophomore Rob Sims at the left guard spot. Sims will spend much of the game matched up against Derreck Robinson, as Igor Olshansky will play little or not at all because of a groin injury. Robinson played well last season and is in line for increased playing time.

Player under the microscope

After a 40-yard miss by Nate Kaeding prematurely ended the Chargers' 2004 season, he opened up the subsequent preseason by going 0-for-3 in a complete meltdown against the Green Bay Packers. In tonight's game, Kaeding will likely take his first swing since his 54-yard game-tying attempt against the New England Patriots fell short. His performance will be a good indicator of any increased mental fortitude.

Third time's a charm?

Norv Turner will make his debut as head coach of the Chargers. After compiling a 58-82-1 record during stints with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders, Turner inherits a team that had the best regular season record in 2006. His current squad is the most talented he has ever coached; as a result, expectations for him have never been so high. A win over the Seahawks would be the first step in the right direction.

Safeties feeling strong

The battle for starting rights at strong safety will get underway in earnest. Clinton Hart is listed atop the depth chart; however, he failed to oust Terrence Kiel during last year's preseason competition and looks no more impressive this time around. Rookie Eric Weddle is a tremendous athlete but his inexperience could be a liability. Also, because the safety positions are interchangeable in San Diego's defense, Bhawoh Jue could win the starting job by excelling at his free safety post.

Young receivers catching on

The team's depth at wide receiver will be tested. With Eric Parker sidelined at least nine more weeks and Vincent Jackson (lower leg) and Craig Davis (groin) battling nagging injuries, the team will need some pass catchers to step up. Malcom Floyd will work with the first-team offense, while Kassim Osgood, Greg Camarillo and Legedu Naanee will get extra time with the reserves. Rhema McKnight is another player to watch, as he has shined since being claimed off waivers from the New Orleans Saints.

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