Now that the San Diego Chargers have officially gotten training camp underway, the team will have until the end of August to handle it's to-do list.
During camp, the Chargers will work on getting better in anticipation for the start of 2013 season. Part of that process will be checking off eight tasks that need to be dealt with before the season opener.
These eight tasks will help kick-start the team in a positive direction going into the season and are vital aspects of camp that need work.
1. Build up the confidence of Philip Rivers
Getting off on the right foot for Philip Rivers means working out all the kinks in training camp.
The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback needs to erase the past two seasons from his memory and focus on improving in 2013, and that process all starts with training camp.
For Rivers to feel comfortable in the Chargers' new system, he needs to start forming a chemistry with his receivers and build confidence within himself. There's an elite quarterback somewhere in there, according to offensive coordinator Ken Wisenhunt.
McCoy knows his quarterback needs work, but from the way he's been answering questions in the media, it doesn't seem like he's all that worried about the situation.
McCoy's answer to fixing Rivers is much more about focusing on the team as a whole rather than on any one player.
2. Figure out the starter at strong safety
Before camp even started, the question as to who will be the Chargers' starting strong safety in 2013 has taken on yet another twist.
This week, second-year player Brandon Taylor was placed on the PUP list to begin training camp per Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Taylor, who is recovering from an ACL tear that he suffered late last season, is expected to be in the mix for the starting job at strong safety, but the fact that his injury will delay his entrance into camp is somewhat troubling.
The third-round pick from a year ago had hoped of being ready for the start of training camp after rehabbing his injury during the offseason, but obviously, he still has some more healing to do.
Taylor can be removed from the list and join the team on the practice field at any time during camp, so his progress will be something to keep an eye on as we await his debut. In the meantime, the Chargers will look to Marcus Gilchrist and Darrell Stuckey to take first-team reps in camp.
3. Find Dwight Freeney's role on defense
While developing his defensive unit during camp, defensive coordinator John Pagano will also need to begin planning on how he'll use free-agent splash Dwight Freeney.
The former longtime Indianapolis Colts defensive end is still new to the position of outside linebacker, but the hope is that he'll still be able to get after quarterbacks wherever he lines up on defense.
Pagano will have to decide in camp if he'll use Freeney on every down or if he's more suited as a situational pass-rusher. After a sub-par season last year in Indy, Freeney needs to prove that he can function in any defensive scheme, regardless of his position.
Freeney discussed the issue with Marshall Faulk of NFL Network.
4. Establish an order of depth for the receivers unit
The battle among the receivers in training camp is definitely a must-watch.
Vincent Brown, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury, is a candidate to push Malcom Floyd for his spot as the second receiver on the depth chart. Meanwhile, rookie Keenan Allen is competing to beat out Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal for their spots.
The only player who really has his spot pretty much locked in is Danario Alexander. After that, the rest of these guys will be competing to fill out the remaining slots. This could lead to a lot of back-and-forth battles in camp.
5. Stay healthy
Keeping players healthy has been a bit of an issue in the early goings of the season for the Chargers if you consider Ryan Mathews' clavicle injury in 2012 and now Melvin Ingram's ACL injury in 2013.
Granted, Mathews was injured during a preseason game, but accidents can happen on the practice field as well.
The Chargers have to run a physical and competitive camp, but it's important that everyone stay healthy while doing so. Losing another major player like Ingram would be a devastating blow and only make the season that much more difficult for the new coaching staff.
6. Mix and match the offensive line
Building the best offensive line to put in front of Rivers is a pivotal part of camp for the Chargers.
As of right now, the line will go, from left to right—Max Starks, Chad Rinehart, Nick Hardwick, Jeromey Clary and D.J. Fluker.
It would be shocking if the coaching staff didn't move around the line during camp in an attempt to see what works best. By the end of camp, though, the O-line could look much different than projected, possibly even flip-flopped.
Gehlken addressed the importance of establishing the O-line early in camp.
7. Discover the next slot corner
Gilchrist was the team's slot corner in nickel defensive packages last season, but his move to strong safety will prompt the team to choose someone else to fill that role this season.
Looking at the projected depth chart, the next two names that come to mind are fifth-round draft pick Steve Williams and Johnny Patrick, who the team claimed from the New Orleans Saints in the offseason.
Patrick obviously has a little more experience after playing two seasons with the Saints, but Williams' accolades at Cal won't go overlooked when deciding the man for the job.
8. Assign roles to the running backs
For the most part, we already know that the running backs unit will primarily come from the mix of Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown, but how they'll be used isn't exactly clear yet.
Mathews wants to be a featured back and the coaching staff believes he can be one, but does that mean they'll limit Woodhead and Brown? We know Woodhead's strengths are on third down, but Mathews and Brown have shown they can catch the football just as well.
It will be interesting to see if McCoy sticks to his belief that Mathews can be "the guy" or if he'll mix things up with the trio.
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