Here’s what we learned in the Chargers’ 36-7 loss in their third preseason game Saturday night against New Orleans at StubHub Center.
1. The offensive line appears to be gelling
Coach Anthony Lynn praised new center Mike Pouncey afterward as he noted how well the Chargers ran the ball in the first half. They averaged 5.4 yards on 13 rushes, with Austin Ekeler and undrafted rookie free agent Detrez Newsome doing most of the work. Ekeler gained 21 yards on his first carry and had 42 yards after only two more carries. Starting running back Melvin Gordon missed the game because of a family matter but is expected to rejoin the Chargers this week.
2. Neither candidate to be the No. 2 quarterback looked ready
Cardale Jones relieved Philip Rivers to start the second quarter but produced little in a limited appearance. Lynn later explained that Jones has been slowed by a groin strain. The coach pulled him Saturday in order to ensure that Jones would be able to play Thursday at San Francisco. Geno Smith, who appears to have the edge for the backup job, threw one interception for a touchdown and had a second nullified by a penalty. “I thought he handled himself well,” Lynn said of Smith. “He threw some balls right on the money on third down and we dropped them…. Other than the pick-six, I thought he was pretty solid.”
3. Forrest Lamp is very close to playing
The young offensive lineman looked to be readying to make his first in-game appearance as a Charger before spending the night in street clothes. Lamp went through warmups and was moving well. “It was hard not to put him in this game,” Lynn said. “But the plan was to get him in next week.” Lamp should play against the 49ers. A second-round draft pick in 2017, he missed all of last season because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.
4. The kicker competition is still somewhat of a mystery
The Chargers’ only attempted kick was a successful extra point by Caleb Sturgis. The veteran also kicked off twice, both of which went for touchbacks, exhibiting the sort of leg strength the Chargers wanted to see. Lynn elected to go for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal in the first quarter as opposed to letting Sturgis try a short field goal. With one more preseason game remaining, neither Sturgis nor Roberto Aguayo has had many opportunities. Lynn has said the final decision will be based largely on what the two kickers do in games.
5. Joey Bosa should be ready for the season opener
OK, so technically, we learned this after the game: Lynn saying he “absolutely” expects the defensive end to start Sept. 9 against Kansas City. He suggested Bosa could have played against the Saints had this been a regular season game. Bosa has been out since early August because of a foot injury. He has spent most of the Chargers’ practice time in shorts and a T-shirt running individual agility drills. Bosa isn’t expected to play Thursday in the team’s preseason finale, either.