Philip Rivers and the Chargers are staying cautious when it comes to season predictions
The Chargers are going to win the next Super Bowl.
At least that’s what Melvin Ingram announced in the spring, the edge rusher going on an all-out blitz as a prognosticator.
His bold words during minicamp were immediately tempered by coach Anthony Lynn, who reminded Ingram and everyone else that the Chargers didn’t even win their division last season.
Known for his raging confidence, Ingram was expressing a desire that permeates the team’s locker room.
Most of the rest of the Chargers, however, have taken a more measured approach regarding what will happen in 2019.
“I think you just look up and go ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll just go out and win 12 games again,’ ” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “That doesn’t just happen. We also know how hard it was to win those 12.
“There was a handful that could’ve gone either way that we found a way to do that. I think our guys know. I think we have the right attitude. Guys are hungry. We also know how we felt leaving that locker room in New England coming up short.”
The Chargers were eliminated by the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs in January.
Jerry Tillery, the Chargers’ first-round draft pick, took another step in his return from shoulder surgery by participating in pads for the first time.
They reached that point with a series of late-fourth-quarter triumphs, the most notable coming in December at Pittsburgh and at Kansas City.
Lynn has said the Chargers just as easily could have been 7-9 instead of 12-4.
They finished tied atop the AFC West with the Chiefs, who got the title via a tiebreaker.
“Everybody always wants to say Super Bowl, but I think it starts off with the division,” cornerback Casey Hayward said. “We have a really good division. The Chiefs have won the past three years, and I think it starts there.
“We need to try to win our division and then focus on everything else after that. We have the [Indianapolis] Colts in Week 1, but we’re so far away from there that we have a chance to get better and better each and every day.”
The Chargers haven’t won the AFC West since 2009. A division title brings with it the opportunity to host at least one playoff game. Last season, an extended travel schedule might have caught up to the Chargers by mid-January.
Now approaching a decade since the franchise’s most recent postseason game at home, Rivers indicated he’s more concerned about building belief than forecasting how this season will finish.
Chargers rookie linebacker Drue Tranquill paid tribute to former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman after making an interception in Thursday’s preseason game.
“It’s a little-by-little deal,” he said. “In training camp, you build it. In meeting rooms, you build it. In the locker room, you build it. You build starting in preseason games, going against the Rams in practice, going against the [New Orleans] Saints in practice.
“All those things. You build it as the year goes. I think that trust, love and togetherness is something that goes. It doesn’t just stop. ... I think that kind of carries, as we saw all through [last] season. It’s just a matter of going and doing it.”
Who will stand out among young receivers?
After one preseason game, the Chargers’ search for needed depth at receiver continues.
In a 17-13 loss at Arizona on Thursday, none of the young contenders did much to separate from the pack.
Malachi Dupre had two catches for 32 yards and Artavis Scott had one for three yards.
Dupre, who appeared in one game last season with Arizona, signed in late July. Scott is in his third year with the Chargers but has yet to make his regular-season debut.
As for the team’s top two receivers, Keenan Allen has been to the Pro Bowl the last two seasons and Mike Williams appears ready to take another step forward.
A first-round pick in 2017, Williams said his progression feels promising in camp.
“The first year it was kind of slow, I missed a lot of time [because of injury],” he said. “Then the second year, being out there a lot more, I got a lot of looks. I got a lot of balls in my hands, made a lot of plays.
“I feel like Year 3 is going to be a lot better. I’m looking forward to it, and this is what we are doing right now, getting that chemistry back to where it was and getting ready for Year 3.”
Williams finished 2018 with 43 receptions for 664 yards and a team-best 10 touchdowns.
The Chargers signed defensive end Thomas Costigan, who played at Bryant University. He took the roster spot of Andrew Vollert. The tight end was waived/injured after tearing a knee ligament last week. ... Into the third week of training camp, the Chargers had their only scheduled night practice Monday in Costa Mesa.
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