The San Diego Chargers made high-profile additions at three positions, bolstering their roster and giving their fan base hope that they can regain a measure of success in the AFC West.
2013 Super Bowl Odds: +2150
Notable Change #1:
The Chargers waged many a playoff battle against Dwight Freeney when the outside pass rusher was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, a frequent postseason competitor in the American Football Conference. Now, though, Freeney will wear a lightning bolt instead of a horseshoe on his helmet, an abrupt turn of events for one of football’s best players over the past decade. Lindsay Jones of USA Today wrote this in an article from June 3: “Even though Freeney has yet to practice, or even receive a jersey number (the No. 93 he wore in Indianapolis is currently owned by fourth-year defensive tackle Cam Thomas), the Chargers have begun to envision how he’ll affect their defense. Freeney spent most of his career as a defensive end, but learned to play outside linebacker last season as the Indianapolis Colts shifted to a 3-4 system under coach Chuck Pagano, whose brother, John, runs San Diego’s defense. ‘With what Pagano is going to do, and what our defense is going to do. He’ll be fine,’ McCoy said. ‘We’re not going to limit him.’”
“Freeney figures to be a starter immediately, replacing second-year outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, who tore his ACL last month. The Chargers had hoped Ingram, a first-round pick in 2012, would fill the pass rushing void left by the departure of veteran Shaun Phillips. Instead, they landed Freeney, whose stint as a free agent lasted longer than most anticipated.”
Notable Change #2:
The Chargers’ top need is on their offensive line, and the team addressed that point of need by landing left tackle Max Starks. Dan Hanzus of NFL.com had this to say on May 21: “Starks fills a huge need for the Chargers, who have major talent and depth issues up front. Starks stands a very good chance to displace King Dunlap as San Diego’s starting left tackle. First-round draft pick D.J. Fluker will start on the opposite side of the line. Starks, 31, spent the last five seasons protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Starks played every snap last season, but he was not re-signed as the Steelers looked to get more athletic at the position. The Steelers wouldn’t have let Starks get away if they thought his best football was still ahead of him. Nevertheless, he’s a substantial upgrade for the Chargers, who should consider themselves lucky they had a competent option on the market this late in the game.”
Notable Change #3:
The Chargers pried cornerback Derek Cox away from the Jacksonville Jaguars, thereby shoring up their secondary. Cox will step into a division with Peyton Manning and Alex Smith, so he’s likely to add a needed dimension to San Diego’s back line of defense. Cox’s main limitation has been his propensity to absorb injuries. If he can stay on the field, though, he’ll help the Chargers.
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