Before any fans of the San Diego Chargers start to panic, keep in mind it is just preseason. That said, there are a few ominous signs on the horizon for Bolt fans.
With losses to Seattle (31-10) and Chicago (33-28) in the first two weeks of the season, the Chargers head to Arizona for a Saturday evening meeting with the Cardinals, then close out the exhibition campaign next Thursday night at home against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
So, what exactly can fans take away from the first two games of the preseason? Among the items to look at:
* Pain at the wide receiver spot - Ever since Vincent Jackson flew off to Tampa Bay for a sizable chunk of money, many Charger fans have been bemoaning the fact that the team has no deep threat. While they are right, there is still some talent at the position. The problem, however, has been injuries. Last year it was Vincent Brown breaking an ankle in a preseason game versus Dallas. In 2013, Danario Alexander went down before even making it to the preseason games, suffering a torn ACL that will sideline him for the year. A week ago, Malcom Floyd was injured, though it appears he will/should be ready to go next month when the regular season kicks off. For a team not deep at the wide receiver position to begin with, such injuries will likely limit the team when it comes to stretching opposing defenses;
* Will the defense hold up? - Although it is just the preseason, just how good will San Diego's 'D' be this season? Even though reserves typically see action in the preseason, the Bolts have surrendered 64 points in two games to date. There is little doubt that opposing quarterbacks will be quick to test San Diego's secondary this season, especially given the inexperience back there (minus Eric Weddle). Shareece Wright and Derek Cox will need to come up with big seasons in order to keep opponents from moving the ball down the field for chunks of yardage, not to mention constantly looking for the home run ball;
* Is this the year for Ryan Mathews? - Last but not least, running back Ryan Mathews must have a big season if the Bolts have any hopes of breaking their three-year playoff drought. Between injuries and fumbles at key times in games, Mathews has simply not emerged into an elite NFL back to date. With some question marks regarding health at the wide receiver position, Mathews will have to put up some very respectable numbers this year so that QB Philip Rivers is not left having to always move the team down the field through the air. Keep in mind that the Bolts ranked 31st in total offense just a season ago, numbers that no one wants to repeat in 2013;
As is typical for the third preseason game, look for a number of Charger veterans to get ample playing time Saturday night in Glendale against the Cardinals.
As for the tilt with the 49ers next Thursday, the majority of starters will see little to no action in all likelihood, looking to stay injury free heading into the season opener at home Sept. 9 versus Houston.