Preseason Schedule Ripe With Storylines

The Chargers learned their preseason schedule and the teams they will face will include some familiar faces. The first rival the Chargers will play on Aug. 9 is the Dallas Cowboys, who come to Qualcomm Stadium.

The Cowboys got back into the playoffs last year under the direction of head coach Wade Phillips. Phillips was the Chargers' defensive coordinator for three years before landing with Dallas.

If the timing of Marty Schottenheimer's dismissal would have been different, it's very likely Phillips would have been the Chargers' head coach instead of Norv Turner.

Speaking of Turner and the Cowboys, it was with the Dallas club that Turner made his NFL mark.

As the Cowboys' offensive coordinator, Turner led Dallas to two Super Bowl titles. And his work developing quarterback Troy Aikman was such that when Aikman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he chose Turner to introduce him at the Canton, Ohio, ceremony.

Just like last year, the Chargers will say "Meet me in St. Louie" in the preseason's second week. The Chargers face the rebuilding Rams, where another old Charger is trying to turn things around.

New Rams general manager Billy Devaney spent time in the Chargers' front office as ex-GM Bobby Beathard's top lieutenant.

The exact date of that game is to be determined; it will be played the weekend of Aug. 15-17.

The bright lights of "Monday Night Football" will bathe the Chargers in the third week of preseason games as they welcome the Seattle Seahawks to San Diego. It marks the third straight year the Seahawks have come south. This time, it will be on national television on Aug. 25.

The Chargers will wrap up the preseason the following week, but they won't be asked to leave California. They will take the 90-minute flight north to play the 49ers on Aug. 29.

The regular-season dates will be announced at a later date. The Chargers already know they will travel to London on Oct. 26.

RB Michael Turner
John Amis/AP


The Chargers don't need much, the benefit of having a youthful team that advanced to the AFC Championship Game. Still, every team needs something and that includes the Chargers.

With backup running back Michael Turner fleeing to the Falcons as a free agent, the Chargers need someone to caddy for LaDainian Tomlinson. The Chargers have Andrew Pinnock in the backfield now, but he is seen more as a fullback.

So the Chargers could go in that direction in the draft at some point.

They also need to look hard at both lines -- on the interior on the defensive side and at the tackles on the offensive side.

The Chargers also must decide if they want to package some later draft picks or future ones to have more play on the draft's first day. As of now, the team has but one pick in the first three rounds.

They burned their second-round pick when trading for wide receiver Chris Chambers last year. Their third-rounder was part of the package to move up last year to draft safety Eric Weddle in the second round.

1. Running back: The Chargers got spoiled with Turner, who would have been starting on many teams that didn't include an MVP in Tomlinson. But the Chargers don't figure to spend their first-round pick here.

2. Defensive tackle: Jamal Williams is a Pro Bowler and a complete stud in the middle of the team's 3-4 alignment. But after 10 years in the NFL, his body is starting to show its age. The Chargers have two decent backups in Ryon Bingham and Brandon McKinney, but they could definitely upgrade there.

3. Tackle: Shane Olivea was a former starter who was let go and the job has been turned over to Jeromey Clary, who graded well when taking over for Olivea last year. But the team seeks something more here.

C Nick Hardwick
Desiree Hunt/

MEDICAL WATCH: C Nick Hardwick (toe) might miss the start of the season after undergoing surgery March 14.




UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

--RB Tyronne Gross (not tendered as ERFA).




--LB Derek Smith: FA 49ers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.


--Cletis Gordon: ERFA; $445K/1 yr.
--LB Marques Harris: RFA; $1.417M/1 yr.
--OT Jeromey Clary: ERFA; terms unknown.
--WR Malcom Floyd: ERFA; terms unknown.
--CB Steve Gregory: ERFA; terms unknown.
--DT Brandon McKinney: ERFA; terms unknown.
--G Scott Mruczkowski: Potential RFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Billy Volek: UFA; $9M/3 yrs, $3M SB.


--CB Drayton Florence: UFA Jaguars; $36M/6 yrs, $12M SB.
--S Marlon McCree (released).
--FB Lorenzo Neal (released).
--OT Shane Olivea (released).
--K Dave Rayner: Not tendered as RFA/Dolphins; terms unknown.
--RB Michael Turner: UFA Falcons; $34.5M/6 yrs, $15M guaranteed.

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