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Meet the (maybe Los Angeles) Chargers

Meet the (maybe Los Angeles) Chargers
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers stands in the tunnel before a game against the Broncos in Denver on Jan. 3. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

The Chargers endured a brutal 2015 campaign filled with injuries and disappointments as the team lost nine games by fewer than eight points. Perhaps some new scenery would do them some good, should they decide to exercise their option to join the Rams in Los Angeles.

For what it's worth, the Chargers' roster features one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks in Philip Rivers.

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Rivers is among the league's most prolific gunslingers, passing for more than 4,000 yards in seven of the last seasons. Since he joined the league in 2003, Rivers and likely Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates have combined for 77 touchdown passes, the most ever by a quarterback-tight end combo in NFL history.

They can go for more in 2015 should Gates gates return next season. At, 35, he's a free agent, but had been contemplating retirement prior to the Chargers' dismal season.

The Chargers were snake-bitten by injuries to the offensive line and their top playmakers all season.

Up-and-coming receiver Keenan Allen suffered a lacerated kidney and missed the final eight games. Veteran wideout Malcom Floyd missed time and was slowed by a shoulder injury. And the Chargers' offensive line was a revolving door of players. In one day, out the next with injury.

The Chargers hold the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft and could be looking to add more depth at receiver behind Allen.

For now, here's a look at some of the franchise's most important players.

OFFENSE

Philip Rivers, quarterback
6 feet 5, 228 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
4,792 yards passing | 29 touchdowns | 13 interceptions

The Chargers need to fortify their offensive line to create bigger running lanes (3.8 yards per carry average last season) and protect Philip Rivers better (allowed 36 sacks). Upgrading the left side of the offensive line is a priority, and that might lead to the release of former University of Miami standout Orlando Franklin.
The Chargers need to fortify their offensive line to create bigger running lanes (3.8 yards per carry average last season) and protect Philip Rivers better (allowed 36 sacks). Upgrading the left side of the offensive line is a priority, and that might lead to the release of former University of Miami standout Orlando Franklin. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Rivers is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, passing for more than 4,000 yards in seven of the last eight seasons with 237 touchdowns in that time. He's a traditional pocket passer in every sense with incredible arm strength. About the only area where he hasn't been successful is the playoffs. Rivers is 4-5 in the postseason, with his best run coming in 2007 when the Chargers advanced to the AFC Conference Championship. Rivers and the organization agreed to a four-year contract extension before the start of the 2015 season. He'll be under contract through 2019.

Keenan Allen, receiver
6 feet 2, 211 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
67 catches | 725 yards receiving | 4 touchdowns

Receiver Keenan Allen makes a catch in front of Broncos cornerback Chris Harris during a game on Dec. 14, 2014.
Receiver Keenan Allen makes a catch in front of Broncos cornerback Chris Harris during a game on Dec. 14, 2014. (Donald Miralle / Getty Images)

Allen went off his rookie season in 2013. He led all rookies in receptions (71) and yards receiving (1,046) and was one 24 players with more than 1,000 yards. He was on pace for a career year in 2015, but his season was cut short by a lacerated kidney in November. He's expected to make a full return in 2016. Despite playing in only eight games, Allen was the Chargers' second leading receiver, averaging 90.6 yards per game.

Stevie Johnson, receiver
45 catches | 497 yards receiving | 3 touchdowns

Stevie Johnson makes a touchdown grab in front of Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny during a game on Nov. 29.
Stevie Johnson makes a touchdown grab in front of Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny during a game on Nov. 29. (K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The veteran receiver who posted back-to-back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons in Buffalo joined the Chargers in the off-season to help replace wideout Eddie Royal, who left for the Chicago Bears. He had touchdown grabs in his first two games in San Diego but was slowed by a hamstring injury that limited him to nine games. Johnson doesn't have the best speed, but he's an excellent route runner and has a knack for finding empty spaces.

Danny Woodhead, running back
5 feet 8, 200 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
80 catches | 755 yards receiving | 6 touchdowns
98 carries | 336 yards rushing | 3 touchdowns

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Running back Danny Woodhead had three receiving and one rushing touchdown against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 20.
Running back Danny Woodhead had three receiving and one rushing touchdown against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 20. (Denis Poroy / Associated Press)

Woodhead was the Chargers' do-it-all back. He led all NFL running backs in yards receiving (755), with most of that coming after the catch (688 yards). The diminutive running back out of Chadron State in Nebraska went undrafted in 2008 before he was signed by the New York Jets. He was also a member of the 2011 New England Patriots, who the lost Super Bowl to the New York Giants.

Melvin Gordon, running back
6 feet 1, 215 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
184 carries | 641 yards rushing 
33 catches | 192 yards receiving

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is tackled by Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali during a game on Dec. 13.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is tackled by Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali during a game on Dec. 13. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

The Chargers called on the rookie to carry the load for them throughout much of the season until a knee injury in December cost him the last two games of the season. His numbers will likely improve next season under a healthier offensive line. But like most rookies he did struggle a bit to hold on to the ball, losing four of his six fumbles, and at times he tried too hard to get outside instead of just pounding the ball.

Dontrelle Inman, receiver
6 feet 3, 205 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
35 catches | 486 yards receiving | 3 touchdowns

Receiver Dontrelle Inman runs past Raiders cornerback David Amerson (29) during a game on Dec. 24.
Receiver Dontrelle Inman runs past Raiders cornerback David Amerson (29) during a game on Dec. 24. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)

Inman wasn't good enough to make the Jaguars' roster in 2011 and spent his first professional season on Jacksonville's practice squad. So he left for Canada, joining the Toronto Argonauts where he became the one of the team's top receivers and won the Grey Cup in 2012. He became a starter last season when injuries took away San Diego's primary receivers. He was even called on to play safety during the Chargers' overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders on Christmas Eve.

DEFENSE

Melvin Ingram, linebacker
6 feet 2, 247 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
65 tackles | 10.5 sacks | 3 forced fumbles

Linebacker Melvin Ingram sacks Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill during a game on Dec. 20.
Linebacker Melvin Ingram sacks Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill during a game on Dec. 20. (Gregory Bull / AP)

Ingram matured in his fourth NFL season. His 10.5 sacks made him the first Charger to register double-figure sacks since 2011. He started all 16 games in 2015 after losing most of the 2013 and much of the 2014 campaign to hip and knee injuries. Ingram is the Chargers' best pass rusher and should have even more opportunities to bring down quarterbacks next year.

Jeremiah Attaochu, linebacker
6 feet 3, 252 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
55 tackles | 6 sacks | 1 forced fumble

Chargers outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu gets in the face of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill during the first half of a game on Dec. 20.
Chargers outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu gets in the face of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill during the first half of a game on Dec. 20. (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

Attaochu became more of the disruptive player the Chargers drafted him to be in his second season. The big outside linebacker got in the backfield and brought down opposing quarterbacks six times and forced a fumble on a punt return while playing on special teams. Attaochu came out of Georgia Tech as the school's all-time leader in career sacks (31.5) and sack yards (226)

Denzel Perryman, linebacker
5 feet 11, 240 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
73 tackles | 2 sacks | 1 forced fumble

Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman (52) is congratulated by defensive end Ricardo Mathews (90) and fellowlinebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (97) after a tackle during a game on Nov. 29.
Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman (52) is congratulated by defensive end Ricardo Mathews (90) and fellowlinebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (97) after a tackle during a game on Nov. 29. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP)

The rookie made himself and integral part of the Chargers defense while paired up with Manti Te'o in his rookie season. The second-round pick out of Miami (Fla.) was one of the team's top tacklers and started nine of the 14 games he played in. He's an aggressive back built to deliver big hits like the one that caused Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacey in the backfield to fumble in Week 6.

Manti Te'o, linebacker
6 feet 1, 241 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
83 tackles | 1 forced fumble | 1 interception

Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Clay Harbor (86) is tackled by Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o (50) and strong safety Jahleel Addae (37) after catching a pass during a game on Nov. 29.
Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Clay Harbor (86) is tackled by Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o (50) and strong safety Jahleel Addae (37) after catching a pass during a game on Nov. 29. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Te'o was highly decorated coming out of Notre Dame, which he helped guide to the national championship game against Alabama in 2013. The middle linebacker is a key contributor on defense for the Chargers' young defense.

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Jason Verrett, cornerback
5 feet 10, 188 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
47 tackles | 12 passes defensed | 3 interceptions

Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett intercepts a pass intended for Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin during the first half of a game on Dec. 13.
Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett intercepts a pass intended for Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin during the first half of a game on Dec. 13. (Reed Hoffmann / Associated Press)

Verrrett, the Chargers' top cornerback, led the the team with three interceptions and 12 defensed passes while often matching up with the opposition's best receivers. The second-year pro out of Texas Christian was selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2014 draft and was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

Brandon Flowers, cornerback
5 feet 9, 187 pounds
2015 STATISTICS
33 tackles | 4 passes defensed | 1 sack

Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers tracks Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas after a 21-yard reception during agame on Dec. 6.
Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers tracks Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas after a 21-yard reception during agame on Dec. 6. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Flowers endured a down year in 2015 which ultimately ended with him being put on injured reserve because of a knee injury. The 34-year-old cornerback selected to the Pro Bowl in 2013 while with the Kansas City Chiefs. In eight NFL seasons, Flowers has recorded 20 interceptions including three pick-sixes and 105 pass breakups.

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme

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