Sports Out West

Chargers’ receivers look healthy, tight-knit in training camp

Photo Credit: Olivia Hops - Sports Out West

SAN DIEGO – Coming into the 2014 season, if nothing else, the San Diego Chargers have a receiving corps that will strike fear into any and all defenses.

With Keenan Allen coming off a spectacular break-out rookie season and Malcom Floyd returning from a severe season-ending neck injury in 2013, the healthy group can only become better in the upcoming year.

Floyd and Allen are poised to be the No. 1 and No. 2 at their position, being the two most talented wide receivers the Chargers have on their roster. But it’s as a group where the position will shine even more extensively. 

The talent at receiver falls far past the projected starters. The team also has Eddie Royal, Vincent Brown, Seyi Ajirotutu, and possibly an up-and-coming rookie, Tevin Reese.

The group is a mix of skills. They have long, lanky receivers that will stretch the field and crisp route runners for precise, shorter throws. Although vastly different in styles between the names, they are a tight-knit group.

“After practice, in the locker room, we’re always together,” Allen, who led the Chargers in receiving yards with 1,046 in 2013, expressed. “In the meeting rooms we’re together. Outside of football we hang out.”

Besides from the team’s standard practices over the past six days in training camp, the receivers have been staying after to continue working on the field as a unit. They’ll do everything from simply tossing the ball back and forth to brushing up on their down-field blocking techniques.

“Not only does our timing have to be on page with Philip [Rivers], but with each other,” Floyd, who’s heading into his 11th season in the NFL, stated. “We have to build camaraderie so we trust each other. There’s certain routes where we have to help each other out.”

In 2013, the Chargers’ offense ranked fourth in the league in pass-yards per game with 270.5. But out of their total passing yardage of 4,472 that year, the team’s receivers accounted for only 52 percent. The team’s tight ends and running backs were some of Rivers’ favorite targets.

The drought of receivers catching the ball laid heavily on Floyd’s absence. With the 6-foot-5 receiver on the sidelines, there was no one stretching the field, leaving it relatively short. Receivers often struggled to become open due to the crowded area and not knowing the whereabouts of their fellow receivers on the field.

But with Floyd back, the team’s passing game gains an entirely new element.

“We need to keep Malcom healthy,” Rivers, who earned the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award in 2013, said. “He gives us an added dimension that nobody else in our group can give.”

With Floyd running deep down the field – and most likely being double-covered while doing so – Allen will have plenty of turf to work one-on-one with his defensive back.

The stronger relationship between the receivers will also allow for better positioning on the field. With their teammates clearing out or blocking the opposing defenders, they may be able to catch a ball or gain a few more yards due to a block that they usually wouldn’t have gotten.

Although the receiving unit is working closely with one another to build a stronger bond, they have also been gaining knowledge from their opposing defensive backs.

“It helps us out to know what they’re looking for and what angles we can take,” Allen said. “It’s knowing what to expect and being comfortable out there.”

 

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Olivia Hops

Olivia Hops is a San Diego journalist, reporter, and producer who brings a fresh perceptive to the world of sports. Olivia has worked with U-T San Diego, U-T TV, Sports Illustrated, and other print and online publications. She is an absolute football junky, and her true passion lies with the NFL.