COSTA MESA, CA-Now that the NBA has officially closed its door on its 2017-2018 season, the National Football League is now open for business as minicamps preparation readies teams for the upcoming fall schedule. The Los Angeles Chargers are in the same boat as the other 31 teams around the league, trying to figure out who will be good enough to make the final roster cut for the 2018 season.
That’s a long way off, but getting their house in order early is essential for any NFL ballclub.
So this what minicamp does. It creates a sort of introduction to the real deal without being the real deal. Training camp is a month away in July. Minicamps are nothing more than an appetizer before the entree is delivered. For the Chargers and head coach Anthony Lynn, despite losing starting tight end Hunter Henry for the season during OTAs, the first day of minicamp was good as it seemed to kick up a lot of positive energy.
The practice was sharp and crisp. Wide receiver Keenan doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat from his 2017 NFL Comeback Player of the Year campaign, catching whatever he wanted, where he wanted a Casey Hayward-minus first-team defensive secondary. Rookie Derwin James, coming off an impressive OTA showing, look every bit the first round draft pick that he is, running down passes and offering the last-line of defense with an intimidating presence.
James was all over the receivers he was asked to cover and could be the run-stopper the Chargers secondary covets. Other than Allen and James standing out on the first day of practice, the battle for the No. 2 spot at the quarterback position looks like it’s going to be an all-summer battle between acquired Geno Smith and rifleman Cardale Jones.
But nobody should sleep on rookie Nic Shimonek, who is nobody’s couch potato. Jones, who came to the Chargers prior to last season, may have a slight advantage over veteran Smith because he was able to digest the playbook for a year and got to learn signal-caller stuff from Philip Rivers. At 6-foot-5, Jones is a towering presence with a mean fastball that he throws.
But Smith showed in OTAs and on the first day of minicamp that he has the right touch to any ball he tosses.