Chargers training camp is all about the competition

COSTA MESA, CA- Every year, we go through this. This being looking at how oddsmakers make their usual picks and favorites to make the Super Bowl annually. Everyone’s got an opinion on this. The 2018 NFL season is here and the chatter about who will or won’t make it to Atlanta, Georgia, home of Super Bowl LIII, will only get louder and louder.

The Chargers are being thrown around heavily to be in that mix this season. That should not come as a surprise considering the wealth of talent that second-year coach Anthony Lynn has at his disposal. But when you’re playing football in the National Football League every team has talent.

Every team gets a fresh start out of the gate with a 0-0 slate. Every team has expectations they’re hoping to meet by the time December and January come around. When the Chargers came to Los Angeles, there was some angst, a lot bit of uncertainty surrounding the team considering the franchise had just relocated from one part of Southern California to another, was operating the mentorship of a rookie head coach and was coming off a playoff-less season.

Quarterback Cardale Jones goes through passing drills during training camp. Photo By William Johnson for News4usonline

This year the vibe is starkly different. It’s pretty easy to see why. After suffering through place-kicking misery through the first four games of the 2017 season, which led to an anguished-filled 0-4 start, Lynn and the Chargers rebounded strong enough to stake themselves to a -9-7 record at the end of the regular season.

No, the Chargers didn’t make the postseason again, but the way they finished off the year gave promise and hope for a better 2018. Well, that season is upon us. That hope that Chargers fans have come in the form of a top-notch defensive secondary that was ranked No. 3 in all of the NFL. The high expectations stem from the Chargers having the No. 1 passing offense in the league, thanks to quarterback Philip Rivers.

With Lynn more entrenched as head coach, the bar for the Chargers in what they want to achieve this season has been raised considerably, so much so that the team is hyped as potential Super Bowl contenders. Depending on where you go, the Chargers are somewhere in the top tier of teams favored to make it to the biggest sporting event in this country. One poll has the Chargers at 25-1 odds to make the Super Bowl. Another has the Bolts at 16-1.

For Lynn and his staff, that is neither here or there. Lynn is more focused on training camp these days and getting his team prepared for the 2018 season rather than worry about oddsmakers making predictions. That starts by looking at ways to shore up the league’s No. 31 squad against the run and improving an overall defensive unit that concluded its 2017 season with a middle-of-the-pack (No. 15) overall finish.

The Chargers’ defensive-minded picks during this year’s NFL Draft could be a precursor to the team making those improvements. But the biggest lead way for the Chargers to an improved season is not what they achieved last year, but it is how they might sustain that season-ending momentum and surpass what they accomplished. That starts with the grind of training camp, which has been anything but routine.

Training camp for the Chargers has been ripe with fierce competition all over the place, whether it’s in the secondary, at the tight end spot or several signal-callers vying to secure that No. 2 position behind Rivers. That’s the nature and the purpose of a training camp. Compete and show yourself approved. Slackers need not apply.

With their first taste of real action coming in the form of a preseason matchup against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona, the onus for players hoping to land a roster spot will come down to who is hungry the most. Training camp has a way of showcasing that desire.

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