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Chargers Preseason Week 1 Studs And Duds: The Defense

Chargers Draft Picks

During Week 1 of the preseason, several studs made their case as to why they deserve to be on an NFL roster. Alike, plenty of college talent showed they may need some more time to be considered a lock for their respective roster. For the Los Angeles Chargers, the Brandon Staley-led defense has lots of question marks for its’ depth. Holding the Rams to 17 points may have answered these questions.

Chargers Preseason Week 1 Studs

Preseason Week 1 Stud: Chris Rumph 

To start off, let’s talk about one of the first playmakers that was out there. Upon his selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Chris Rumph’s primary focus revolved around enhancing his power. With impressive bursts and precise hand placement, the key to unlocking his potential in the NFL was his strength and conditioning. Although his initial two seasons were marked by challenges, Tom Telesco recognized Rumph as a prospect warranting patience and observation.

The patient approach has now proven beneficial, as the former Duke athlete appears to be excelling in his third season with the Chargers. Having successfully gained the necessary weight and muscle, Rumph secured an early-game sack. Notably, this achievement came from a small sample size; 7 pass-rush attempts. Furthermore, his success rate during these attempts stood at 28.6%, exceeding all other Charger defensive linemen. All in all, Rumph is, at last, taking the stride that Telesco and Staley envisioned when he was chosen in the 2021 draft.

Preseason Week 1 Stud: Cam Brown

The former Ohio state cornerback had quite high expectations when he stepped foot on campus. He converted from wide receiver to cornerback and showed elite athleticism doing so. Unfortunately, Brown suffered two large injuries in college, which led to his play not being his full potential, and missing seasons on end. A leg injury in 2018 and a torn Achilles in 2020 had him miss the season.

In 2021, Cam Brown earned himself a big ten-all honorable mention and played well. Coming back to school in 2022 he did not continue that same production, leading to his undrafted status. Fortunately, his week one play for the Chargers showed the start of something promising.

Cam Brown played very impressively in his first preseason game with the Chargers, showing out to be one of the preseason week 1 studs. Brown had a very impressive 89.9 coverage grade, which was miles ahead of every other Charger defender. With this coverage prowess, he was targetted six times, only allowing three receptions for 19 yards. Brown also had two pass breakups, ensuring no receiver could hang onto the ball. With this impressive NFL debut, fans and coaches alike are curious on how he will perform next week against the Saints.

Preseason Week 1 Stud: Amen Ogbongbemiga

Ogbongbemiga was undrafted in 2021, eventually making the Chargers team, and starting due to injury in a room with depleted talent. Amen ended his first season with 26 tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss. In year two with the Chargers, he played exclusively on special teams and finished the year with six tackles. Even though Amen did not play any meaningful defensive snaps last season, his special teams play was great, becoming one of the core special teamers for this Chargers team.

Ogbongbemiga is first team all name and played like the four-time First-Team All-Academic selection he was in college. During preseason week one Amen earn his spot as a stud, he had a team linebacker-leading rush defense grade of 76.3. Amen also showed out well in the stat sheet, having one target his way, not being completed. This combined with his four tackles and two stops, the linebacker looks to continue his time on the Los Angeles Chargers roster.

Honorable Mentions:

Tuli Tuipulotu

Tuipulotu showed his high effort and motor in his debut as a second-round selection, having two pressures, one hit, and one hurry. This was only on seven pass rush snaps, but during these snaps his athleticism popped out, earning the rookie an honorable mention as a preseason week one stud.

Blake Lynch

Blake Lynch is one of my favorite under-the-radar pickups for the Chargers, especially after my analysis of his play. His shot to make the roster is far, but he always shows flashes every time he plays. That can’t go unnoticed. This time, Lynch recorded a 67.3 coverage grade, not being targeted once. Beyond this, he had a big sack on the Rams quarterback, shooting right through the gap with good burst and timing.

Chargers Preseason Week 1 Duds

Dud: AJ Uzodinma

It’s hard to call players duds when they had little to no expectations. Players who were undrafted and are playing every last down like it may be their last, and it very well could be. For the sake of this list, it would be hard to leave Uzodinma out of the “dud” section.

Uzodinma came from Ball State, and had three interceptions his senior year. His ball skills along with his ability to return kicks gave the Chargers an intriguing undrafted rookie to develop under now-defensive coordinator, Derrick Ansley.

During Uzodinma’s first NFL showing he struggled, having a team-low 27.5 coverage grade and two penalties. Beyond being penalized on special teams and on defense, he struggled to cover receivers, giving up six receptions on eight targets. These catches went for 78 yards, 24 of which were yards after contact. Uzodinma is going to have to have a bounceback next few games if he wants to make the team’s practice squad.

Dud: Ja’Sir Taylor

Continuing in the defensive backfield, Ja’Sir Taylor earns his spot as a dud. Taylor has much higher expectations this season and is currently in a camp battle with Asante Samuel Jr. Although it has yet to be confirmed, it seems as though Taylor lost that battle, even while having an early lead. Ja’Sir Taylor did not help his case on Saturday as he struggled with coverage against players that will likely not make an NFL roster this season.

Ja’Sir Taylor is expected to be at the very least this team’s CB4, a position that plays a solid amount in Brandon Staley’s defense. In this game, he was subjected to 30 snaps, 16 of which were in coverage. These coverage snaps had him give up two passes on three targets. These receptions only went for nine yards, but one was for a touchdown. Taylor also recorded a second-to-last low in coverage grade, at 51.3, only behind the aforementioned AJ Uzodinma.

The Depth Chart Battle

All in all, the Chargers found a few players that really impressed in this first week of live NFL football. From the top down players are fighting for a spot, so, these studs will be fighting for a roster spot and these duds will be hoping to regain confidence from the coaching staff. On Sunday against the Saints, we will see this Los Angeles Charger football team showcase the same group of defenders, look for next week’s Studs and Duds, as plenty can change in a week.

Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports


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