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Is Chargers’ offense no longer Taylor-made for star receiver Keenan Allen?

Chargers receiver Keenan Allen celebrates a first-down catch.
Will Keenan Allen get as many targets as he has in the past when Philip Rivers was the Chargers’ starting quarterback?
(Harry How / Getty Images)

His production has been matched only by his consistency, and Keenan Allen’s steadiness has been striking.

The Chargers wide receiver has at least 97 catches for at least 1,196 yards each of the past three seasons. His touchdown totals during those seasons: six, six and six.

Continuing such an impressive streak wouldn’t be easy in 2020, even if the Chargers still had Philip Rivers operating an offense not bashful about relying on his arm.

Instead, they are moving into a new era with Tyrod Taylor as their quarterback. Taylor’s history — and the team’s current collection of receivers around Allen — indicates they’ll attempt to run the ball more.

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“It can vary from week to week,” coach Anthony Lynn said when asked about his projected offensive balance. “We got a guy that we believe can throw from the pocket. He can also move around a little bit. I believe we’ve upgraded our offensive line. I’m excited about what we can do.”

Since Allen joined the Chargers in 2013, the team has finished in the top 15 in the NFL in pass attempts five times. In Taylor’s three years as the starter in Buffalo, the Bills ranked 31st, 32nd and 31st in attempts.

Two weeks into first NFL training camp, Chargers QB Justin Herbert continues transition from college star to pro prospect. He’s still getting accustomed to calls at line.

During that stretch, Taylor never completed more than 60 passes in a season to any one receiver and never targeted a teammate more than the 96 times he threw in Sammy Watkins’ direction in 2015.

Rivers targeted Allen an average of 148 times the past three seasons, each of which ended with Allen making the Pro Bowl.

Asked specifically if he desired a 50/50 run/pass split, Lynn explained the equation isn’t that simple.

“It depends on the opponent, the conditions …” he said. “If you can go into a game and pass it 50 times and win or run it 50 times, that’s what you do. I hate to put a percentage on a balance of the offense because, at the end of the day, we just want to win.”

Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor scrambles.
Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor is much more mobile than predecessor Philip Rivers.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

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With Mike Williams out, the Chargers are thin at wide receiver after Allen. Williams has a shoulder injury that has left in doubt his status for the start of the season.

Darius Jennings is the most experienced of the remaining group, with 27 career receptions in parts of three seasons.

Throughout training camp, Jason Moore, Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson also took snaps with the first-team offense. Among them, only Moore has caught a pass in an NFL game.

The Chargers like the speed each can bring, with Moore, at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, the biggest of the trio.

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Guyton said Tuesday that he envisions himself being a football version of Dennis Rodman, meaning he’s willing to handle the dirtier chores.

The Chargers also added two receivers in the draft, Joe Reed (Virginia) and K.J. Hill (Ohio State). Both recognize the chance presented.

“It’s unfortunate that Mike went down because we all want Mike Williams … out there doing what Mike Williams does,” Reed said. “But there was some talk about more opportunities.”

Reed also has worked out at running back in practice — he said he made flash cards to better learn his multiple positions — and figures to be one of the Chargers’ kickoff returners.

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Hill set the Ohio State record for career receptions and has been one of the top options to return punts the last two weeks.

“He can pluck balls out of the air,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said of Hill. “It’s very fluid. … He’s one of those guys where it’s just very natural for him.”

It hurts

Defensive end Melvin Ingram was among the Chargers who spent time Monday with Derwin James, who is expected to miss the season because of a knee injury suffered over the weekend.

The 2018 All-Pro safety sat out the first 11 games in 2019 after undergoing foot surgery.

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The Chargers will experience SoFi Stadium for the first time with a scrimmage Thursday. The Chargers are Linval Joseph’s third team to open a stadium, and he says it’s exhilarating.

“Me and Derwin — like brothers,” Ingram said. “I just went over there to holler at him. … Derwin is a great player, and Derwin is a professional. He knows what’s going on.

“Derwin is a strong-minded person. Nothing can really break him down. This is just another chapter in his story, which is going to make the story so much better at the end.”

Ingram spoke Tuesday for the first time since his $14-million salary for 2020 became guaranteed. Entering the final year of his contract, the veteran reported to camp on time but didn’t practice until his deal was renegotiated.

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He attended meetings and walk-throughs and even helped coach some of the younger defensive linemen during drills.

“As long as my teammates see me here, I’m never going to make nothing about me,” Ingram said. “I love the guys out there, and I want to see everybody succeed. Me out here coaching, that’s just me, my way of staying into it.”


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