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Chargers observations

Jason Cole
Yahoo Sports

More Chargers: Cromartie is quite a catch

SAN DIEGO – Don't be terribly concerned about Philip Rivers being overwhelmed as he takes the San Diego Chargers' starting quarterback job from the departed Drew Brees.

He is about as unflappable as they get, and coach Marty Schottenheimer has confidence in Rivers' ability to lead.

"He has taken over the huddle just like anytime he has been out there from the time he got here," Schottenheimer said. "He's a very direct young man who understands what he needs to get accomplished."

The bigger issue is whether Rivers has enough arm strength to keep defenses from cheating to stop running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Not that Brees had a rifle, but Rivers' odd release has caused people to wonder.

So far, Rivers has quelled most of the concerns with excellent accuracy and anticipation on passes to the outside. However, the tougher throw for Rivers has always been the deeper passes to the sideline where he often crow-hops before unleashing the ball.

If the Chargers are going to make that work for him, the protection in front of Rivers better be excellent.

  • Speaking of protection, left tackle is going to be a huge concern.

Seven-year veteran Leander Jordan, who is really better suited for a guard spot, is running with the first team for now. Jordan is a good worker, but he simply lacks the quickness to be great at the position on every down. That means that the Chargers may have to push rookie Marcus McNeil a little faster into the starting lineup.

At 6-foot-7 and 337 pounds, McNeil has the prototypical body for the job. But McNeil, who played at Auburn, doesn't have a lot of experience in NFL protection schemes. The Chargers are a little fortunate in this regard because they don't face a lot of the great pure speed rushers in the game this season. But nothing rattles a quarterback faster than getting hit from the blind side.

  • Not that the Chargers needed a lot more help in their front seven, but rookie Tim Dobbins, a fifth-round pick from Iowa State, appears to be a great find for them. The 6-foot-1, 247-pound Dobbins has been exceptional on special teams and has dominated the second- and third-string players he has faced in practice and in the exhibition season. He eventually could take over an inside starting job.
  • Despite losing Brees in free agency and trading promising backup Cleo Lemon to Miami last season, the Chargers may have found another good youngster at quarterback in third-round pick Charlie Whitehurst. The 6-foot-5 Whitehurst has the size and arm strength to be a quality player. Moreover, the son of former NFL quarterback David Whitehurst exudes confidence beyond his years.
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