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Chargers’ expectations high after offseason roster upgrades


They have a strong-armed quarterback. They have sure-handed receivers and a fleet-footed running back. They have the offensive line to ignite their high-powered offense. They have an upgraded defense to make it all click together like Lego blocks. They also have high expectations.

Very high.

What the Chargers lack are results.

All the bold predictions for the Chargers’ upgraded roster could come to pass in the coming days, weeks and months. First, though, they’ve got to put in the work, starting with their initial steps together during the opening day of training camp at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.

There is much to be done.

After all, the Chargers have made the playoffs only twice in the past 12 seasons, including their most recent appearance in 2018, after a stellar 12-4 regular season in the second of Anthony Lynn’s four seasons as their coach and Philip Rivers’ second-to-last year as their quarterback.

New coach Brandon Staley and quarterback Justin Herbert nearly got the Chargers (9-8) to the postseason last season, but an overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders sent them to an early vacation. That teeth-gnashing defeat in the regular-season finale has been dissected and rehashed to death.

The Chargers hope to put the past in the past starting Wednesday.

There are plenty of reasons for optimism, starting at quarterback.

Herbert has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in two years in the NFL, including 5,014 to go with 38 touchdowns in 2021. Even in a division that boasts tremendous quarterbacks, he stands out among the best. He throws to a deep and talented receiver corps led by Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

Austin Ekeler handles the running game, giving Herbert another option.

Perhaps the biggest – and potentially only? – offensive question is at right tackle, with Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins III competing for the starting position in what looms as the biggest battle of training camp. A healthy and effective line can only lead to greater productivity from Herbert, a scary thought for opponents.

Tom Telesco, entering his 10th season as the Chargers’ general manager, spent a few extra dollars during the offseason to upgrade a defense that simply didn’t match the offense. The Chargers’ offense ranked fifth last season in points and fourth in yards, but their defense was 29th in points given up and 23rd in yards.

So, Telesco acquired Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears to give the Chargers an improved pass-rushing duo alongside Joey Bosa. It was still looking a little thin at the edge-rushing position beyond Bosa, Mack and Kyle Van Noy, a free-agent signee who also can play inside linebacker.

In the secondary, where injuries and lackluster play proved difficult to overcome last season, Bryce Callahan, J.C. Jackson and JT Woods were added to increase depth, of course, but also to infuse competition. Nothing will be given this season, but it will be earned.

Safety Derwin James underwent postseason shoulder surgery, but he’s expected to be at full speed or something close to it when the Chargers don pads next week. James also is eligible for a hefty contract extension. Talks are believed to be ongoing and a deal could be struck sooner rather than later.

Labor Day, on Sept. 5, is likely to be Telesco’s deadline until the offseason for a new contract.

Off the field, Staley and Telesco are entering their second season together, which should make things run smoother than last year when they were just getting to know each other. It might seem like a minor thing, but the Chargers’ world seemed to be spinning in greased grooves entering camp.


The Chargers placed inside linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. on the physically unable to perform list after he underwent ankle surgery in April.

When Murray is sound, he can be activated at any point during training camp. The team believes he won’t be sidelined for an extended period.

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