If the “Fight for L.A.” could be won on a football field, the Chargers would send quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates and the rest of the first-string out onto the grass at the Coliseum for as long as it took to secure a victory.
But the “Fight for L.A.” isn’t about wins and losses, necessarily. It’s not about being better than the Rams – and certainly not about being better than them during the third game of the preseason.
“Maybe the fight is between the marketing departments,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn quipped.
When the Chargers and the Rams got together for a joint practice at UC Irvine earlier this preseason, the marketing slogan was taken a bit more literally.
During the two-hour workout, three separate fights broke out with punches being thrown, players being tackled and a fair share of colorful language being uttered.
It’s not supposed to carry over to Saturday, but it’ll have to, right?
“The excitement will definitely be up. We’ll be ready. It’s going to be an aggressive preseason game,” Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, who was involved in one of the scuffles with the Rams, said with a chuckle. “…It’s going to be dope. The Coliseum is always great to play in with all the tradition they have and then I guess we’re fighting for L.A. – so let’s go fight.”
Allen laughed and said the players “gotta sell” the marketing slogan, but it’s of little concern to Lynn in regards to what happens Saturday.
Evaluation continues to be the top priority, and it’ll likely cut into the time Rivers is on the field once again.
“I really want to continue to evaluate these two backup quarterbacks,” Lynn said when asked how many series Rivers would play.
The reason, simply, is that Lynn has a handle on Rivers and what he expects from the veteran starter.
“Execution, leadership – the things he always brings to the field,” Lynn said. “We haven’t had any turnovers with the first unit, knock on wood, but we don’t want any turnovers. We want to protect the football.”
Rivers will get a chance to build on his only preseason action – a touchdown drive against the Seahawks – and the rest of the starters are expected to be on the field for most, if not all, of the first half. Cornerback Jason Verrett, a Pro Bowler two years ago, is slated to make his preseason debut after tearing his ACL early last season.
And while the starters – at least Allen – will be “fighting for L.A.,” the reserves will be fighting for roster spots.
Lynn and the Chargers coaches have said they’ll condense their reserve units to get better looks at crucial positional battles.
On the special teams front, it seems like punter Drew Kaser has kept his job after a strong performance against the Saints. The kicking competition is closer, but incumbent Josh Lambo seems to have an edge there, as well.
Undrafted rookie linebackers Nigel Harris and James Onwualu, tight end Sean McGrath and cornerback Michael Davis have all gotten long looks throughout the preseason and seem to be in fights for roster spots.
And hopefully, that’ll be the only fighting that occurs.
“I hope the guys play with the same fire and intensity, but we’ll have the discipline not to have the fights,” Lynn said, before throwing one final jab. “And for the record, we didn’t start the fights anyway.”
Woike writes for the Los Angeles Times.
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