Thomas Davis Jersey

Marty Hurney said when he returned 18 months ago for his second stint as general manager that he needed to make sure the “analytical part of my brain takes over the emotional” part. Hurney was criticized after being fired during the 2012 season for signing aging veterans to deals that allowed them to play past their prime.

Attempts to reach Hurney and coach Ron Rivera were not immediately successful.

Davis in 2012 became the first player in NFL history to successfully return from ACL surgery three times to the same knee (right). From 2012 to 2016 he played some of the best football of his career, topping 100 tackles each time and making the Pro Bowl from 2015 to 2017.

In 2014, Davis was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for the work his Defending Dreams’ foundation has done in the Carolinas and his home state of Georgia.

Davis has been considered the “heart and soul” of the Carolina defense for much of the past decade. He returned two weeks after suffering a broken arm in the NFC Championship Game to play in Super Bowl 50 at the end of the 2015 season.

Davis announced in January 2018 on the NFL Network that the 2018 season likely would be his last. But after he was suspended the first four games for violating the league policy on performance enhancing drugs, Davis announced he planned to play at least one more year.

Rivera said in December that Davis “still has something left in the tank.” But with the emergence of 2015 first-round pick Shaq Thompson and the need to get more speed on the field the Panthers opted, as Davis said, to move in another direction.

“As you can see this is extremely tough for me,” said Davis, who paused several times in the video to gather his emotions. “I have loved and cherished every moment we’ve had in Carolina.”

Davis included a message to the fans, saying he hoped they understood his decision to continue playing for another team.

“It’s not a decision I wanted to make, but it’s a decision I had to make,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to this season and getting back out and showing and proving that Thomas Davis still can do it. I’ve still got a lot left. It’s going to be exciting, man. As tough as it is to say that, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Michael Badgley Jersey

Instead of an Achilles’ heel, the Chargers had an Achilles’ entire foot for far too long.

Then a former-mullet-wearing rookie named Michael Badgley showed up last season and solved the team’s lingering nightmare at kicker.

After arriving in Week 6 following an injury to Caleb Sturgis, Badgley eventually won the starting job and settled what had been the Chargers’ most turbulent position over the past two seasons.

He is the only pure kicker on the roster at the moment — although teams typically bring in competition for training camp — the Chargers’ hope being Badgley would do nothing but tighten his grip on the job.

The one area they would like Badgley to improve, and coach Anthony Lynn has said he believes it will happen, is on kickoffs. They signed veteran Nick Rose to handle that assignment against New England in the playoffs.

Denzel Perryman Jersey

COSTA MESA — Denzel Perryman didn’t want the brace around his left knee to diminish his achievement. He was there Monday running with his teammates for the start of the Chargers’ offseason program.

Players weren’t required to attend, but Perryman shouted as if he wanted someone to take roll. The recently re-signed linebacker pointed to his brace and made it known to the reporters watching he was present.

Perryman wasn’t supposed to be there. He’s only five months removed since undergoing knee surgery for an LCL injury that cut his 2018 season short.

Apart from the brace and a slimmer physique, Perryman was still the same player, providing passion and energy to a mundane spring workout. Perryman went from 245 pounds last year to 220 pounds, according to Chargers coach Anthony Lynn.

“He’s in great shape,” Lynn said about Perryman. “I’m looking for my (middle) linebacker and he’s standing right in front of me and I didn’t even know it. … Denzel, he has that discipline to be at whatever weight he wants, but he looks good at all of those weights.”

Perryman was one of many players in attendance Monday. But one notable absentee was Philip Rivers.

The star quarterback is looking for an extension – his current contract expires at the end of the season – but that’s not the reason why Rivers wasn’t at the workout, according to Lynn. Rivers is in Florida for his annual Easter family vacation.

“He does a family vacation around Easter every year,” Lynn said. “Easter was pushed back this year, so I didn’t want him showing up here just for today and tomorrow, and then going back with his family in Florida. That’s why he’s not here.”

Free-agent acquisitions Tyrod Taylor and Thomas Davis were participants. Last month, Davis, a 15-year veteran linebacker, vowed that he would keep up with the Chargers’ younger players on defense.

Dan Feeney Jersey

Dan Feeney and Michael Schofield are part of a fraternity of local players who have realized their dream of making it to the NFL.

Other active NFL players include Minnesota Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell, a Crete-Monee graduate, and Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay, a St. Rita grad.

But playing in the NFL is only part of what makes the journey of Feeney and Schofield so unique.Both graduated from Sandburg — Schofield in 2009, Feeney in 2012. They grew up in Orland Park, where Schofield’s father, Mike, is a fire chief.

What if I told you Schofield and Feeney play on the same team, the Los Angeles Chargers?Schofield, 28, and Feeney, 24, start together on the offensive line. The 6-foot-6, 301-pound Schofield plays right guard, while the 6-4, 310-pound Feeney plays left guard.

Before a nationally televised Sunday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Schofield approached Feeney with an idea.

“I said to him, ‘How many high schools have two guys in the NFL, much less two who play on the same NFL team and on the same line?’” Schofield recalled. “We agreed that when we were going to tape our parts for NBC saying our name and college, we were going to say our high school instead.”

I happened to be watching that Dec. 2 game when Schofield and Feeney proudly said “Sandburg” instead of their colleges.It was a super-cool moment. A sincere display of gratitude to the high school that set them on a path to the NFL.

“Sandburg is a great place,” Schofield said. “It was a huge part in preparing me academically and athletically for life after high school. We had to do it this one time.”“I had great coaches and teachers at Sandburg,” Feeney said. “It set the foundation for me.”

“They couldn’t believe it,” Schofield said. “The same team is crazy enough, but starting on the same line makes it even crazier.”

Schofield was a senior when Feeney was a freshman. Feeney, however, knew about the Eagles’ star senior who was attracting interest from major Division I colleges.

“I think everyone in the school knew about Mike,” Feeney said. “A big, strong kid who was getting recruited by schools throughout the country.”

A few years later, Feeney would be the one receiving similar interest.Schofield picked Michigan. Feeney chose Indiana.There’s another connection. Both were selected in the third round of the NFL draft. The Denver Broncos took Schofield in 2014, while the Chargers grabbed Feeney in 2017.

Schofield, who’s married to U.S. Olympic women’s hockey player Kendall Coyne, won a Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2016 before being cut.They would like to share another achievement, and that’s winning a Super Bowl.

“How incredible would that be?” Feeney said. “To be able to share that with Dan, two kids from Sandburg, would be really special.”

Really special, indeed.

Mike Williams Jersey

With that seven-overall pick, while all three aforementioned names were still available, the Chargers selected Mike Williams, a highly-touted wide receiver from Clemson that came with some injury concerns following a 2015 collegiate season that ended with a severe neck injury.

On October 5th, Williams caught a single pass for five yards in his long-awaited debut against the Oakland Raiders. Although he didn’t miss another game the rest of the season, Williams managed a meager stat line of 11 catches for 95 yards. His best game coming against the Buffalo Bills where he caught five of eight targets for just 38 yards.

As the season ended with the team just barely missing the playoffs, Williams wasted no time in getting back to work on his craft. Fueled by the early “bust” talk and commentary that the Chargers should never have gone with a wide receiver so early, he got together with Allen and other teammates to work on his releases and his route depth (he noted this was his biggest issue he wanted to work on).

After countless workouts consisting of running up hills, around and through cones, and working on agility drills across a number of sandy beaches, Williams was ready to bounce back in a big way during his sophomore campaign.

When all was said and done with the 2018 season, Williams walked off the field having made his own small mark on Chargers history.

Williams became the first Chargers receiver since 1996 (Tony Martin, 14) to record 10+ receiving touchdowns in a single season. He joins tight end Antonio Gates as the only Chargers players to record 10+ in a season, with Gates having done it four times from 2004-2014.

It’s crazy. You would have fully expected Allen to have done this by now, especially when he’s the one getting an average of 147.5 targets over the last two seasons. Williams had just 66 in ‘18. Allen’s single-season high was eight, way back in his 2013 rookie season.

It’s nothing short of an anomaly that Williams had this much success finding the end zone. He averaged just 2.7 receptions on 4.1 targets per game which means he scored a touchdown every 4-5 touches. That’s some insane efficiency and, likely, quite unsustainable.

Normally I would agree and say this was just a “flash in the pan”-type of season for Williams but after throwing on the tape, there were many obvious similarities throughout in terms of how they continuously schemed him open that make me think this isn’t just a fluke.

The most common method they used to get Williams open is the use of stacks in the formation, usually coming from a “Snugs” look. Below you can see what some know as “Snugs Flip”, a formation that brings your wideouts in close within the box. In regular “Snugs” the slot receiver is on the line of scrimmage while in the flipped version, it is the flanker and split-end on the line.

Prior to the snap, Williams motions down next to tight end Antonio Gates to give us that conventional Snugs stack to Rivers’ left. If you’re reading the defense with the rules listed above, the defense is telling Rivers’ they are in zone as the corner sits just outside Williams at the bottom of the screen. However, Buffalo safety Micah Hyde starts to roll down over the top of Gates giving the offense giving them a Cover 1 look which means they are likely playing man-to-man underneath.

As Rivers takes the snap, Williams works to the outside hip of the corner, stepping on his toes before breaking back inside, keeping his route “skinny” as to avoid the other safety on the back end. Gates runs a simple hook underneath which keeps Hyde engaged enough for Williams to clear him and open back up inside.

Rivers puts the ball exactly where it needs to be for Williams to go up and get it before getting smacked on the way down. Heck of a throw and catch, to be honest. It’s also exactly what fans hoped would come from a receiver like Williams.

In the Chargers’ third game of the season, Williams broke out even more with a two-touchdown performance against the new and intimidating LA Rams defense. With guys like Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib at cornerback, it was hard to imagine anyone not named Keenan Allen having a decent day against this secondary.

But somehow, against all odds, Williams prevailed.

The clip below is Williams’ second score of the day and- well would you look at that, they’re sitting in a Snugs formation.

With Virgil Green and Sean Culkin connected on the left, Gates and Williams are set to the right. Prior to the snap, Rivers motions Gates down to the slot, just inside Williams. It’s not as condensed, but they are now in a loose Snugs Flip look.

The outermost defender is playing off and outside of Williams and the safeties end up in a two-high look before the snap. This gives Rivers the notion that they’re in zone coverage.

From the snap, Williams hits the jets and goes vertical, splitting the cornerback and safety. Gates runs an out route at 10 yards which gets the the cornerback to drop Williams and sit on Gates. However, the safety to that side has his eyes set on the veteran tight end as well, likely believing he’s the obvious target with the Chargers trying to keep the chains moving.

As Williams gets to the safety’s level, the defender stop his feet for a split-second before realizing #81 is blowing right by him.

Some may think it’s giving Ken Whisenhunt and the coaching staff too much credit, but they did a fantastic job pairing Williams (a noted top pick who struggled mightily in his rookie season) with a proven veteran (Allen & Gates) when it came to these stack alignments.

It only became more evident as the year went on that, no matter how many touchdowns Williams was going to score, opposing defenses weren’t going to give him the attention he rightfully deserved.

Five weeks later, the stumbling Arizona Cardinals visited StubHub center in what was hopefully going to be a bounce-back game for the Chargers following their home loss to the Denver Broncos. In that game, Williams notched his second multi-score game of the season.

Williams and Allen start in a Snugs Flip stack to the left before Allen is sent across the formation to reveal man coverage. As his defender chases, the only guy left on the back end is the safety. However, he’s either sent on a blitz or bites on the play-action way too hard and opens up the entire end zone for Williams to work with.

With the other Williams cashing in with the Oakland Raiders, there’s no chance that the third-year receiver will get overlooked in the same manner again. It’s up to the coaching staff to continue to develop plans and strategize for their younger guys in hopes of another receiver breaking out in a big way in 2019.

Kyzir White Jersey

The Los Angeles Chargers announced on Saturday that they’ve placed linebacker Kyzir White on the reserve/injured list and signed cornerback Jeff Richards off the practice squad.

The team’s fourth-round pick (199th overall) out of West Virginia, White played in the team’s first three games before missing the past four with a knee injury. He tallied 19 tackles, one tackle for loss, three passes defensed and one interception during those games. The 6-2, 218-pound rookie memorably sealed the Chargers’ win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 with a late interception.

The linebacker position was hit hard with injuries in the 2018 season, including rookie Kyzir White. White, who is still recovering from a regular-season knee injury, is progressing well, according to coach Anthony Lynn.

White, a converted safety out of West Virginia earned the starting weakside linebacker spot. But now he is expected to contend to play at all three linebacker positions in 2019, including the Mike role, which is played by Denzel Perryman.

“I think Kyzir can play any position you like at linebacker. He’s very young and talented. He’s on track to recover. He looked good the last time I saw him. (I’m) excited about getting him back next year,” Lynn said, per the Chargers official website.

If Perryman, an unrestricted free agent, doesn’t wind up returning to Los Angeles next season, then it creates a hole in the middle of the field. White, Jatavis Brown and Uchenna Nwosu would then be the expected starters, assuming that Kyle Emanuel is not brought back either.

In reality, it’s unlikely that they go with this approach in 2019. Instead, general manager Tom Telesco has said that they plan to prioritize the position this offseason. Whether it’s signing a veteran and drafting a player early on, or double dipping at the position come April, expect them to come with plenty of ammo.

Either way, the versatile linebacker White is expected to have an impact after a rookie season which saw him only record 17 tackles in three games before witnessing his rookie season coming to an end.

Derwin James Jersey

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has given his coaches a lot of say in the scouting process, but he’s not worried about being overruled by a group led by Oakland’s eccentric head man, Jon Gruden.

“I’m the son of a coach, and I know how coaches think. And coaches think need,” Mayock said Thursday, according to The Athletic’s Jimmy Durkin. “We’re a coach-driven building. Our coaches are highly involved, and that’s good. I embrace that. The flip side is you can’t reach. You’ve got to use some common sense. And that’s what I preach.”

Mayock has gone to great lengths to bridge any divide between coaches and scouts after the departure of former GM, Reggie McKenzie, even giving coaches access to the scouts’ computers. He also handed out folders filled with scouting reports during the Senior Bowl, awaiting input from each coach.

Thankfully, Mayock knows their mindset, due to his father’s experience as a coach at the University of Pennsylvania. As Durkin pointed out in his article, the Raiders passed on talented safety Derwin James to draft offensive tackle Kolton Miller with the No. 15 overall choice last year.

James excelled in his rookie campaign. Miller struggled, though he fought through injury and still has the potential to live up to his draft stock.

But Mayock continues to show he may have been the perfect hire for the Raiders’ GM job. Though he knows it’s Gruden’s show, Mayock doesn’t seem hesitant to push back with his own opinion. It should come as second nature to him — he’s been dealing with a coach since birth.

Now, he and Gruden need to make their own relationship work and bring the Raiders some top-flight prospects later this month.

Keenan Allen Jersey

Chargers wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams proved to be one of the league’s most dynamic duos in 2018. And while NFL.com gave the two some recognition in their 2019 top-11 wide receiver duos rankings, Allen did not agree one bit at all.

Allen went to his personal Twitter account to let out his opinion after seeing the rankings.

Allen, notorious for being active on social media, did not hold back by stating, “Are these facts? Opinions? Or most followers? Asking for a friend?” The sixth-year widout felt like him and his fellow teammate were snubbed.

NFL Media’s Gil Brandt slotted Allen and Williams at No. 10 overall, which left Allen wondering why they weren’t higher on the list.

A couple questionable tandems that went before them included Eagles’ Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson and Bengals’ A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. But Brandt thought differently.

Though Allen and Williams might’ve deserved a higher position, rankings like this don’t mean much are to be taken with a grain of salt, even though they’re most likely to stir disagreements.

In 2018, Allen and Williams combined for 140 receptions, 1,860 yards and 16 touchdowns. With an expected improvement to the offensive line, it’ll give quarterback Philip Rivers more time to find his top targets in 2019, setting them up for an even bigger season.

Melvin Ingram Jersey

Based on where the Chargers select, Renner revealed two plug-and-play prospects for LA’s defense. The first is Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, a player Renner thinks would fit nicely in between defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

“We have him as a top 10 player in our class,” said Renner of Tillery. “I think what he can bring to the table as a pass rusher and what he can do on stunts, especially from what we saw there at Notre Dame, and how valuable that would be to the Chargers – it would just take that pass rush to the next level.”

Trapasso also sees the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Tillery as a top 10 overall prospect, but could envision the second-team AP All-American being available at No. 28.

“You turn on any Notre Dame game last year, really the last two seasons, and he was so disruptive in the run game [and] especially as a pass rusher,” Trapasso said.

Another option for the Chargers could be to select a first-round safety in consecutive years. Delaware’s Nasir Adderley may be the most high-profile small-school prospect in this year’s draft.

Adderley (6-0, 206 pounds) finished his career at Delaware first-team All-CAA and first-team FCS All-American. He registered 87 tackles and four interceptions his senior season.

Renner views Adderley as an ideal complement to All-Pro safety Derwin James.

“The combination of Adderley’s ball skills and explosiveness in the middle of the field with Derwin James up around the line of scrimmage – there’s two guys who can cover a lot of ground,” he said.

Joey Bosa Jersey

Heading into the 2018 college football season, it seemed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft had already been decided.

Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa was projected as a better prospect than even his older brother, Joey, who was picked third overall by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2016 NFL draft.

But after a 2018 campaign cut short by injury, many have wondered whether or not Bosa deserves to be this year’s top pick.

After all, there are other elite defenders in this class. Alabama’s Quinnen Williams is this year’s most disruptive, dominant interior defender, and Kentucky’s Josh Allen was a dominant force off the edge last year, racking up 17 sacks against SEC competition.

And then there are the quarterbacks. While Bosa wasn’t able to finish his 2018 season, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray set the college football world on fire, winning a Heisman Trophy, picking football over baseball, and now getting rumored as a potential No. 1 overall pick to a team that just spent a top-10 pick on a quarterback last year.

While other prospects have been making headlines on the field since Bosa left it back in September, the Buckeyes’ stud edge defender has seemingly faded into the background. Even so, he has quietly remained the best overall player in this draft.

At 6-4, 266 pounds, Bosa has the ideal frame for an NFL edge defender. His complete skill set makes him a scheme-versatile prospect who can attack opposing offenses from any alignment. While he may lack the elite athleticism or explosiveness of other edge rushers in this class, Bosa more than makes up for it with polished technique, toughness, and a nonstop motor.

While Allen’s eye-popping numbers or the dominant combine performances of Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat and Florida State’s Brian Burns are enticing, when you go back to the actual game tape, one is quickly reminded that Bosa is the most complete player of the group.

Detractors will point to Joey Bosa’s injury history, wondering if Nick’s early exit and premature end to his college career is a signal that he could follow a similar path in the pros. They might also wonder about the younger Bosa’s business decision to shut himself down the for the rest of 2018 in order to prepare himself for the draft, rather than potentially returning to the Buckeyes as they made a playoff push down the stretch.

To pass on him for any of those reasons would be a monumental mistake.

Bosa’s core muscle injury isn’t the kind of injury that typically shortens an NFL career, and after watching him go through drills at the combine, he already looks like he’s back to full strength. This isn’t something that should linger, and it certainly shouldn’t impact his draft stock.