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Los Angeles Chargers believe new home brings new direction

By Jay Paris, The Sports Xchange
Los Angeles Chargers believe new home brings new direction
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers are likely hoping the team can leave its recent string of mediocre football in their old home. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Chargers have shed San Diego for Los Angeles. Now if they can just ditch their recent run of mediocre -- at best -- football.

After winning nine games in two seasons, the Chargers are upbeat about a new direction in a new location.

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With an offense that could wound rivals in various ways, a defense that features admirable pass-rushers and a head coach with a motivational edge, the Chargers are pumped.

"I think anything that is new is exciting," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "What's the atmosphere going to be like at the first home preseason game? What's the training camp site (like). All those things. Anything new is always exciting. The unknown."

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The Chargers know what they will get from Rivers and that's always something to lean on: he threw for at least 4,000 yards in eight of his last nine seasons. Entering his 14th year, Rivers seems rejuvenated as well, after the slow digestion of leaving San Diego -- the only place he's played -- for Los Angeles.

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"We will find that new normal moving up the road," Rivers said.

Hopefully, it comes with a different ending when the curtain draws on the regular season as it's been two straight years that the Chargers have finished in the AFC West cellar.

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Among the other black marks the team loaded into the moving van was this gem: despite having a quarterback as keen as Rivers, the Chargers have missed the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons.

Someone might yell "rewrite" this close to Hollywood and Rivers is all for that.

"We're coming off two tough years," Rivers said. "But it's a team that fully expects to win a lot of football games. I'm really looking forward to it."

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The NFL's crystal ball might show the Chargers as a sleeper. While the Broncos, Chiefs and Raiders get first billing in the division, L.A. could shake things up.

Like fresh head coach Anthony Lynn, that fan base is new to the Chargers. But there seems to be a sense of optimism throughout the organization that the Chargers and L.A. could be a meeting that gets off on the right, and winning, foot.

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TOP THREE TRAINING CAMP GOALS

--Stabilize the offensive line. The Chargers have been trying to fix this shortcoming for seemingly ever. This year they will likely be introducing three new starters from the previous season's opening day. Just where the big bodies will land -- rookies Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp will be in the mix -- on a line's that far from set will be interesting. Matt Slauson, last year's center, could end up at guard.

--Find a nickel defensive back. The Chargers seem to be pretty solid with their starting cornerbacks in Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett, both with Pro Bowls on their resumes. But with the opposing offenses going to multiple wideouts the majority of the time, which Bolt will fill the void in the slot? Among those to vie for the position will be Trovon Reed and Trevor Williams from last year's team. But keep an eye on Desmond King, a fifth-round pick, too.

--Finding a kicker. Some teams bring a summer kicker in just to be a camp leg. That's not the case with the Chargers as they want to push Josh Lambo to another level. Or be impressed enough by free agent Younghoe Koo to go a different direction. Lambo has the leg strength, but his wobbly accuracy is a concern for a squad that was dreadful with special teams last year.

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PROJECTED CAMP DEPTH CHART

QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Philip Rivers. Backups - Kellen Clemens, Mike Bercovici, Eli Jenkins.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Melvin Gordon. Backups - FB Derek Watt, Branden Oliver, Kenneth Farrow, Andre Williams, Kenjon Barner, Austin Ekeler.

TIGHT ENDS: Starters -- Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry. Backups - Sean McGrath, Jeff Cumberland, Asante Cleveland, Sean Culkin.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams. Backups - Mike Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin, Isaiah Burse, Andre Patton, Mitchell Page, Artavis Scott, Jamaal Jones, Geremy Davis, Da'Ron Brown.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LT Russell Okung, LG Matt Slauson, C Spencer Pulley, RG Forrest Lamp, RT Joe Barksdale. Backups - C Max Tuerk, G Donavon Clark, G Dan Feeney, G Brett Boyko, T Sam Tevi, G/T Chris Hairston, T Tyreek Burwell, G/T Kenny Wiggins, C Dillon DeBoer.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - DLE Melvin Ingram, DT Corey Liuget, NT Brandon Mebane, DRE Joey Bosa. Backups - NT Ryan Carrethers, DT Damion Square, DT Caraun Reid, DE Jerry Attaochu, DE Darius Philon, DT Tenny Palepoi, DT Kaleb Eulls, DE Isaac Rochell, DE Christopher Landrum, DE Chris McCain.

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LINEBACKERS: Starters - WLB Korey Toomer, MLB Denzel Perryman, SLB Jatavis Brown. Backups - OLB Joshua Perry, OLB Kyle Emanuel, ILB Nick Dzunbar, OLB James Onwualu, OLB Mike Moore, OLB Nigel Harris.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Jason Verrett, RCB Casey Hayward, FS Dwight Lowery, SS Jahleel Addae. Backups - CB Trevor Williams, S Darrell Stuckey, CB Craig Mager, S Adrian McDonald, S Adrian Phillips, S Tre Boston, CB Desmond King, CB Ryan Reid, CB Trovon Reed, CB Brandon Stewart, CB Michael Davis, S Dexter McCoil, S Rayshawn Jenkins, CB Brad Watson.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Josh Lambo, K Younghoe Koo, P Drew Kaser, P Toby Baker, LS Mike Windt, KOR Isaiah Burse, PR Isaiah Burse.

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