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New faces the Chargers are eager to see this preseason
The biggest and most exciting aspect of the NFL preseason is watching young players and new faces get their chance to shine for potential employers. Whether it's a rookie doing their best to earn a roster spot or a seasoned veteran proving they can still make a difference, the storylines give preseason games that extra pizzazz. The San Diego Chargers' new players will get their first shot at making a mark this Thursday, August 11, when they take on the Seattle Seahawks. Here's a look at some of those players and what they bring to the table in 2011.
Clearly there is no need for a new quarterback with Philip Rivers(notes) holding down the spot. However, you can never underestimate the value of a young gunslinger with play-making ability. Tolzien has looked good throughout training camp and is making a name for himself as a potential NFL talent. If he sees the field this preseason and makes plays, he'll undoubtedly be able to earn a roster spot. Whether they keep him waiting in the wings as a quarterback of the future or use him as trade bait, his value will continue to rise if he can play the way he practices.
If you haven't seen this kid play yet, it's imperative that you watch the Chargers' game on Thursday against the Seahawks. The team is still suffering from the loss of third-down back Darren Sproles(notes), but Todman could be the cure to that hangover. His terrific speed, agility and vision allow him to make plays and pick up big yards. Especially with the uncertainty that continues to hang over Ryan Mathews'(notes) head, Todman could be a huge steal for the Chargers in 2011.
This hometown receiver has got to be ready to prove that he deserved to be drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He helped San Diego State rise from NCAA mediocrity and turned them into a bowl contender. If he can have the same impact on a constantly-fluctuating Chargers' wide receiving corps, he'll become a household name in San Diego. There's plenty of potential waiting to be unlocked whenever he gets his chance to play.
There isn't a whole lot to say about Spikes donning the bolt other than it'll be an exciting new chapter in his storied NFL career. With the loss of Brandon Siler(notes) and Kevin Burnett(notes) to free agency, the Chargers will depend heavily on Spikes to team with outside linebacker Shaun Phillips(notes) to lead the defense and provide veteran leadership. Soon enough, we'll see whether or not he's lost a step.
Before training camp began in 2010, Butler was considered one of the leading candidates to earn one of the Chargers' outside linebacker spots. Unfortunately, an Achilles' tendon injury ended his 2010 NFL season before it even began. Now that he's healthy and ready for a new season, it'll be up to him to prove that he belongs out on the field. Come Thursday, keep an eye out for Butler as he attempts to show the Chargers what they were missing out on in 2010.
Although the Chargers already have solid cornerbacks in Quentin Jammer(notes) and Antoine Cason(notes), this rookie will be doing everything he can to prove that he's ready to play in nickel and dime packages. He's quick, tough and always willing to step up and play the run. He also has versatility, which could come into play if any safeties go down with injuries. One way or another, Gilchrist is going to become a factor at some point this season.
With so much inconsistency at the strong safety position in 2010, the Chargers decided to make a big move to counteract that in 2011. When Sanders was released by the Indianapolis Colts, the Chargers immediately pounced on the Pro Bowler in hopes of shoring up their secondary. Now free safety Eric Weddle(notes) will be working alongside one of the best defensive backs the NFL has seen in recent history. If he can stay healthy, the Chargers may have landed themselves the biggest free agency steal of 2011.
Gil Alcaraz IV is a Southern California native and longtime follower of the San Diego Chargers. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV as he keeps you up to date on everything going on inside the world of football.
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