--The Chargers' offense did a superb job of pushing the ball down the field. Philip Rivers averaged 10.5 yards per completion and five players averaged at least 14 yards per reception. The two best plays came from Vincent Jackson, who made leaping catches of 28 and 32 yards. Jackson led the NFL last season in yards per catch (18.6) amongst receivers with at least 50 receptions and looks primed to repeat that accomplishment in 2009.
--San Diego did an excellent job of countering Atlanta's blitzes with screen passes and check-downs. San Diego's running backs -- Darren Sproles, Michael Bennett, Gartrell Johnson, Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester -- combined for 11 receptions for 149 yards, an average of 13.5 yards per catch.
--One week after allowing four sacks in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals, San Diego's offensive line bounced back and allowed only one sack in 32 pass attempts. Most impressive was the play of the team's guards. On the left side, Kris Dielman went out with a shoulder injury and Scott Mruczkowski came in and didn't miss a beat. On the right side, Louis Vasquez and Kynan Forney both played extended minutes and looked strong. Vasquez threw the key block on Bennett's 49-yard touchdown reception.
--The Chargers saw the continued development of some young defensive backs. Paul Oliver registered a key pass breakup in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive week, while fifth-round pick Brandon Hughes had a pass breakup of his own that he nearly corralled for an interception. Hughes appears set to win the No. 4 cornerback spot, although Oliver will likely come off the bench first in sub packages.
WR Malcom Floyd
--The Chargers failed to pick up a single sack on Atlanta's first 37 pass attempts. There were a number of reasons for this -- Shawne Merriman played limited minutes, Larry English was knocking off the rust, and Ron Rivera called a vanilla defense -- but the bottom line is the Chargers have yet to register more than one sack in any of their preseason games. Rivera must hope his men can flip the switch on Sept. 14.
--Following Chargers kickoffs, the Falcons started on average at the 28-yard line. Unfortunately, that's actually an improvement for the Chargers, who were allowing an average of more than 40 yards per kickoff return through the first two preseason games. With so much depth at linebacker and in the secondary, that type of performance is unacceptable.
--In a bit of déjà vu after last season's last-minute meltdowns in Week 1 and Week 2, the Chargers allowed the Falcons to score the game-winning points on fourth down with less than 15 seconds to play. Second-year DB Simeon Castille, who is battling Hughes for the No. 4 cornerback spot, gave up inside position on the play and was beaten by WR Eric Weems for the winning points.
--The Chargers return to the friendly confines of Qualcomm Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason finale. The team carries just two objectives into that contest: 1) stay healthy; and 2) evaluate the young players competing for the final half-dozen spots on the roster. The battles at offensive line, linebacker and secondary will be the most intense.
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Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.