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8 takeaways from Chargers’ preseason loss to Rams

·4 min read

The Chargers’ first preseason game is officially in the books, as they fell to the Rams on Saturday night.

While most starters sat, this contest was about the players vying for some of the starting spots open and a spot on the 53-man roster.

There was plenty to take away from So-Fi Stadium, and with that, let’s dive into some things that stood out from the Bolts’ 29-22 loss to the Rams.

Chris Rumph shows growth

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

One of the storylines of the summer was Rumph adding weight and strength after having a very lean physique last season. The time in the weight room and in the kitchen showed up on the playing field. On top of his athleticism, there was more power in Rumph’s pass rushes and when taking on blockers against the run. He finished with four tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and a quarterback hit. He is looking like a reliable rotational edge defender behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack this season.

Some promise along the interior part of the defensive line

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson didn’t play, but the guys fighting for spots on the back end of the depth chart saw the field plenty. There were three in particular that stood out: Morgan Fox, Breiden Fehoko, and Christian Covington. Fox, who was acquired to give the Chargers’ a boost in the pass rush department, showed some juice to apply pressure on a few reps. Meanwhile, Fehoko and Covington, who were the team’s most consistent run defenders a season ago, each made a few positive plays in this department.

Jerry Tillery did not help himself

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After the copious offseason additions at the defensive tackle position, Tillery is now fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster. However, Tillery did not do anything to help his case on Saturday night. A liability against the run, he was consistently pushed back off the line of scrimmage, which was an issue last season. Even when rushing the passer, Tillery was unable to generate any sort of pressure. Not a great night for the former first-rounder.

Heated battle in the backfield

AP Photo/John McCoy

Entering the game, there was little to gauge who had the upper hand to be Austin Ekeler’s running mate. But it finally started to unfold. Joshua Kelley and rookie Isaiah Spiller both had solid performances. Kelley looked more explosive and powerful carrying the football. He had three rushes for 16 yards (5.3 yards per carry). In addition, he was comfortable catching the football out of the backfield, amassing three catches for 28 yards. On the other hand, Spiller was just as advertised: physical, patient, and decisive as a runner and a major contributor in the passing game, both as a receiver and blocker. He finished with 44 yards on 11 touches.

Two receivers raise eyebrows

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the last wide receiver spots is a position battle that has gotten very little attention. Michael Bandy and Joe Reed made strong cases to snag it. Bandy, who was consistently open in the short to intermediate parts of the field, led all receivers with seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Reed was a threat in the deeper areas, finishing with four receptions for 61 yards and a score.

Growing pains

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Among the few players who have looked good at training camp has been Deane Leonard, who has been praised for his coverage ability. However, Leonard was the primary culprit for the Chargers’ uneven play in the secondary. Despite staying on receiver’s hips and being in good position along the boundary, Leonard struggled to get his head around often, including the Rams’ first passing touchdown. Leonard was also called for pass interference and allowed a two-point conversion to add to his rough performance.

Have yourself a night, Easton Stick

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

While Justin Herbert sits, Chase Daniel and Easton Stick will be under center the entire preseason. In the first half, it was all Daniel, who had a so-so showing. While he threw two touchdowns, a good chunk of his passes were off the mark and late. And Stick, the preseason fan favorite, put on one of the best performances in a Chargers uniform. His athleticism was on display as he carried the football twice, including one for a touchdown. But what stood out was his improvement as a passer. Even though he didn’t air it out, Stick got the ball off quickly and was very accurate with his throws.

Things that need to be improved

Preseason is primarily about player evaluation, but fundamentals of the game are still crucial since some of these players will be making the roster. For the Chargers, there were far too many costly mistakes, as they committed nine penalties that resulted in a whopping 120 yards. Furthermore, missed tackles in the back end of the defense were an issue, including one from JT Woods on the Rams’ first passing touchdown.

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Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire