The Los Angeles Chargers won their first preseason game over the Los Angeles Rams 13-6. This was also the first game at SoFi Stadium with fans in attendance. Many of the starters were not playing – such as Justin Herbert or Keenan Allen, as Brandon Staley presumably didn’t want to risk their health. There was still plenty to watch due to various competitions for spots, such as the third wide receiver spot and the kicker battle.
Josh Palmer Among Standouts in First Los Angeles Chargers Preseason Game
Josh Palmer Has Early Edge in Wide Receiver Battle
While the top two Chargers receivers are clearly set on the depth chart (Allen and Mike Williams), there were plenty of receivers fighting for the third spot. Jalen Guyton had that spot last year and may still be used as a deep threat. But based on the first half of the game with Chase Daniel at quarterback (which may admittedly have affected things, as he relied more on checkdowns), Josh Palmer may have the early edge. Daniel was spamming the ball to him early on, mostly on short passes. The result was him having six catches on seven targets for 36 yards. Admittedly that’s not a lot of yards, but it’s a good catch rate and it seemed like he was effectively playing a security-blanket role, which can be valuable in its own right.
Jalen Guyton had the second-most targets of the lot with five but only had two catches for 16 yards. Tyron Johnson and K.J. Hill had few looks, with the latter getting zero catches. Notably, last year’s fifth-round pick Joe Reed didn’t get any targets until the fourth quarter, suggesting that he is at the bottom of the totem pole right now. There are still two more games to go, but just based on targets and catches, Palmer may have the early advantage.
Despite Michael Badgley being listed as the starter on the recent depth chart, his competitor Tristan Vizcaino had the first attempts in the game. He took two field goal attempts in the first half and made both of them, with the longest being 38. Badgley played in the second half and only had an extra point attempt, which he made.
Vizcaino getting the first attempts early on suggests that he may have the edge right now, but it sounds like it’s a close competition. Considering Badgley’s inability to reliably hit anything from 45+ yards, it’s a little surprising he’s still around at all. But like the other example, this will likely be another battle we’ll have to continue to watch play out for another week or two.
Other Notable Players
Though it was against the third-string defense, Larry Rountree III had the best night among the running backs. He had eight carries for 63 yards, highlighted by a 25-yard run on fourth and short. No one else even got above 20 yards, and though Darius Bradwell did get in the end zone for the team’s lone touchdown, Rountree was still the clear standout of the lot. If he keeps this up while Joshua Kelley continues to struggle (eight carries for 19 yards), he should be able to work his way up the running back depth chart.
The defense had a good night overall, including third and fourth stringers. They held the Rams to just one touchdown (they missed the extra point), and prevented another touchdown with cornerback John Brannon grabbing an interception in the red zone. (Notably, he also had the most interceptions in training camp, so he may be a player to watch.) Rookie Chris Rumph II had a fine night, totaling five tackles (second-best on the night), half a sack, and one quarterback hit.
Obviously, the lack of starters playing on both sides (Rams more so than Chargers) does mean we have to put some of what we saw in perspective, but what we saw in this game does still help get us a little closer to answering the last remaining questions on the depth chart as the regular season approaches.
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