Chargers and Rams to battle in an NFL preseason matchup
August 24, 2023
The Los Angeles Chargers will see their first real game action this preseason when they travel to SoFi Stadium to take on the Los Angeles Rams. The Chargers will be the visiting team in this matchup. Do not expect the Chargers or the Rams to play their starters. They want to keep their starters healthy for the regular season.
On Sunday evening, August 6th, the Chargers held an intrasquad scrimmage practice at Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa. Day 9 of training camp practice was a live 11-on-11 scrimmage but with no tackling to the ground.
The Chargers defense continued to show improvement. The depth and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball Is very impressive. All-Pro safety Derwin James has noticed that this team is different than past Charger teams.
"It definitely feels different, the energy feels different,” James said. “When you come out here and you're not ready to play you're going to get exposed by the offense. The same thing for them, if they're not ready they're not going to make a play on defense. It’s like that every day. You have to come to practice and play every day. It's not just getting through practice; you have to come out here and compete. It's helping us."
When asked what is different with the 2023 team, "Having more guys that can make plays,” James said. “Having more depth and more guys around, whether it’s more receivers or more DBs (defensive backs). Everybody knows that the guy behind me is just as good as me. Competition breeds the competitiveness that we need."
The depth on the defensive side looks better than in prior seasons. Fron the 2022 NFL Draft, 7th round pick Deane Leonard looked good at cornerback, as well as 4th round pick J.T. Woods at safety. From the 2021 NFL draft, 7th round pick safety Mark Webb had an interception off quarterback Easton Stick. Head coach Brandon Staley was impressed with Webb but needs to see more in the preseason games.
“Mark has been a consistent playmaker for us,” Staley said. “In these games, the safeties, you always learn the most when they have to tackle to the ground. The passing game has never been one of Mark's issues. You find out about young safeties when they have to tackle. We'll find out next week. He's athletic, he's versatile.”
USC rookie Tuli Tuipulotu had a pair of sacks and looked like he will be a key figure on defense in 2023. “As advertised,’ Staley said. “He's a professional. Physically, he's ready to play in the National Football League. He's tough. He's a tone-setter out there in the run game. He has the quickness and the strong hands. He's instinctive. He's a sponge out there, so he learns the game really fast. He's going to have a role for us.”
The offense struggled at times, but quarterback Justin Herbert looked in mid-season form. The wide receiver depth is impressive with Keenan Allen looking very comfortable in the Kellen Moore offense. He is not lining up in the slot as much as he had the past two seasons. Starting tight end Gerald Everett missed the game with an illness, but Tre’ McKitty and Donald Parham did fill in adequately, although Parham did have a key drop near the goal-line.
For Saturday Night’s preseason game, a key on offense will be the performance of the offensive line and quarterback Easton Stick. There is a big drop off from Herbert to Stick, who is in his fourth and final season of his rookie contract, which pays $1.694 million in salary. Stick needs to show that he can adequately fill in for Herbert in case of an injury.
This Saturday’s game, on August 12th, will start at 6:00 pm at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be televised on the NFL Network. This is an important game for the reserves on the Chargers roster. While their best players will not be on the field, the rookies and 2nd & 3rd units will get an opportunity to show what they can do. The Chargers need to see if their young defensive players are tackling well and how well the 2nd offensive unit blocks for the running and passing attack.