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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

San Diego Chargers: 5 Things to Watch for in Preseason Finale - Bleacher Report

We're a week away from the regular season.

The Chargers are 3-0 and will wind up their preseason in San Francisco. Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates will play in the final game, but their playing time is unknown. San Diego's stats this preseason have been horrid. The run game is 31st in the league, making the return of Ryan Mathews needed fast.

The 49ers have a strong solid defense, so it'll be exciting to see how the Chargers starters play against them. For all the players on the roster bubble, this is their last game to prove themselves.

Here are five things to watch for in the preaseason finale.

Wide Receiver Battle: Mike Willie vs. Richard Goodman

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Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

When San Diego made their cuts to get their roster to 75, the receiver position was narrowed down. Malcom Floyd, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, Vincent Brown, Micheal Spurlock, Richard Goodman and Mike Willie remain. It's not 100%, but it's very safe to say that all those receivers will make the team, with the exception of either Goodman or Willie.

So who will it be?

Mike Willie is a much better receiver than Richard Goodman. With Vincent Brown out, Willie could compete for a fair share of playing time. Goodman is a return specialist with elusive speed. That speed makes him a dangerous player on special teams, but his receiving skills needs work.

Micheal Spurlock and Eddie Royal should be the return men in 2012 giving Mike Willie the last roster spot.

My Pick: Mike Willie

Philip Rivers and Robert Meachem's Building Chemistry

Aug 9, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Robert Meachem (12) on the sideline during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Philip Rivers has thrown three interceptions this preseason. Two of them were directed at Robert Meachem. Brought in from New Orleans, Meachem is one of the receivers that will help aid the loss of Vincent Jackson.

Talent is a major thing in sports, yet it'd have no impact without chemistry. One thing that was explicit last season was the connection between Rivers and Jackson. In 2012, when Jackson held out, the chemistry should've faded right? Well in his first game back that season, Jackson had 120 yards and three touchdowns.

San Diego can't turn Robert Meachem into the 6'5'' receiver that Vincent Jackson was, but they can work on the chemistry between he and Rivers. Look for them to get on the same page very soon.

This will be something to keep an eye on in the first half of the preseason finale if Meachem plays.

Larry English

Aug 24, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) is sacked by San Diego Chargers linebacker Larry English (52) during the second quarter at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Larry English is finally showing his first round value. Wait...what?

2012 is Larry English's last chance in San Diego. In the three preseason games so far, he looks better and, knock on wood, healthier than ever. The Chargers will have a strong rotation at outside linebacker with the depth they have. That should be an advantage for no. 52. by taking the pressure off of him.

Look for Larry English to continue his strong preseason showing against the 49ers.

Jackie Battle, Curtis Brinkley or Edwin Baker?

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Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

One thing's for sure: A player with a last name that starts with a ''B'' will make the roster.

These three players have one more game to prove they're worth the third running back position. Brinkley, who surprised many fans last season, has the advantage. Although Battle was supposed to replace Mike Tolbert, the Chargers have Le'Ron McClain for that. Edwin Baker should start looking for another team soon, unless he's put on the practice squad.

Ronnie Brown should start against the Niners with Battle, Brinkley and Baker behind him, if healthy. Look for each one to play their hearts out, given it's their last opportunity to show their talent.

My Pick: Curtis Brinkley

TE Battle: Kory Sperry vs. Dante Rosario

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Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Antonio Gates, Randy McMichael and rookie Ladarius Green have their spots locked up. Then comes the decision for San Diego: Should they keep four tight ends?

Dante Rosario is a towering 6'4'' and 250 lbs. That's something you can't teach. He's a big body that the Chargers love. If anyone doesn't know who Dante Rosario is, he's the guy who caught a touchdown as time expired to win the game for the Panthers against the Chargers in 2008. Maybe they should hold on to him.

Kory Sperry is also a very talented player. Although he needs work in the receiving area, he excells in blocking. With the injuries on the front line already, it may be smart to keep a blocking tight end. Sperry has spent his last two seasons in San Diego.

This decision, if the Chargers keep four tight ends, will be made after their play in the game against the Niners.

My Pick: Dante Rosario

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