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11 takeaways from the Chargers 36-7 loss to the Saints The third preseason game for the Los Angeles Chargers Caleb Sturgis Jersey , also known as the annual “dress rehearsal,” has come and gone with the home team losing 36-7 to the New Orleans Saints. While the score certainly isn’t very pretty, I don’t think things are quite as bleak as a 29-point loss might otherwise suggest.The truth is, the Chargers starters played pretty well on both sides of the ball. The offense, in particular, put together two solid drives against a talented and well-coached New Orleans defense – even if one ended when Rivers failed to connect with Mike Williams on a fourth-and-goal jump ball. Meanwhile, the first team defense intercepted Drew Brees and limited the Saints to a touchdown and two field goals in three red zone trips.Let’s take a look at some of the things that stood out to me – both good and bad – in Saturday’s loss to the Saints:When in doubt, run left: Mike Pouncey, Dan Feeney, and Russell Okung look like a major strength for this offense. Austin Ekeler ran the ball six times for 50 yards during the first two drives, including four carries for 38 yards behind the left side of the line. Pouncey, Feeney, and Okung didn’t just control the line of scrimmage, they owned it, and Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t the least bit shy about leaning on them. This is going to be a fun group to watch during the regular season.Austin Ekeler – RB1?: With Melvin Gordon unavailable on Saturday, Austin Ekeler started the game and was the focal point of each of the Chargers’ first two drives. Ken Whisenhunt called Ekeler’s number nine times in the team’s first seventeen offensive plays and was rewarded with 63 total yards. While I’m half-kidding when I suggest Ekeler is RB1, his vision, burst, elusiveness Cheap Melvin Ingram Jersey , and hands out of the backfield might have him ready to take on a much larger role this year. He looked fantastic.A glimpse of things to come?: The Chargers’ first drive may have revealed a new, more aggressive attitude on the part of head coach Anthony Lynn. Faced with a fourth-and-goal from the Saints four-yard line, Lynn eschewed a chip-shot field goal in favor of a jump ball for Mike Williams. Granted, Williams didn’t get open and the Chargers failed to convert, but it’s pretty telling that Lynn opted to go for it on fourth down instead of kicking the ball with a somewhat murky kicking competition taking place in camp. It seems like a big vote of confidence for Mike Williams in what has been a preseason of baby steps for the former #7 overall pick.Detrez is the man: There is little doubt at this point that Detrez Newsome is the favorite to win the third-string running back job. While his stats on Saturday certainly weren’t eye-popping, he finished with 14 touches for 44 yards and an eight-yard touchdown run. Newsome strikes me as the ideal complement to Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler and, for the first time in years, the Chargers appear to have a dynamic and versatile three-man backfield. Detrez earned it.JJ just misses: The fact that Travis Benjamin and Desmond King served as the primary return men on Saturday probably suggests Jones won’t make the roster. JJ simply isn’t an NFL wide receiver and, even with his potential as a return specialist, I the coaches likely can’t justify keeping seven receivers if the seventh man can’t at least break camp as the primary return specialist. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team tries to protect him by including him on the initial 53-man roster with the intention of transferring him to the practice squad after the rest of the league has announced their practice squads. He could serve as a “placeholder” for an Antonio Gates signing, assuming the team ultimately brings him in.It’s Gates time: The Chargers played a third straight game in which their tight ends struggled to contribute as targets in the passing game. Sean Culkin caught his lone target for a seven-yard gain, but the group was otherwise invisible in the passing game. While I don’t think adding Antonio Gates changes much for this position group in terms of consistent playmaking ability, I do think his signing is probably inevitable. With that in mind, let’s get it done, already, so we can stop talking about it.Let Pooh Bear eat: Derwin James started his first game as a Charger and celebrated with an interception, a couple big hits, and a couple third down stops. Derwin showed a bit of everything you look for in a free safety when he intercepted Drew Brees on the
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