Rookie Report: Chargers vs. Seahawks

Written by Gil Alcaraz IV on August 12, 2011

Chargers vs. Seahawks Rookie Report: Preseason Week 1


The most important aspect of the NFL preseason isn’t seeing how prepared the stars are. Instead, it’s all about finding the young players who are ready to assert themselves as NFL-caliber players.


The first game of the season for the San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks provided coaches and fans with a look at some of the young talent that both clubs have on their roster this season. Some of the young NFL hopefuls stepped up and made big plays, whereas others struggled to be productive under Qualcomm’s bright lights.


First, let’s take a look at a few of the Chargers’ rookies who made people take notice during their first appearance under the NFL spotlight. The player that really impressed me for the Chargers was undrafted rookie linebacker Darryl Gamble. An undrafted outside linebacker, Gamble stepped up in a big way during his first NFL game. When he was in, he was either putting pressure on the quarterback or cutting run plays short. He tallied eight total tackles, including seven solo, and accounted for one of the Chargers’ two sacks in the game. Prior to the game, few people had heard of Gamble. After the game, he’s an early favorite to be one of the only undrafted rookies to make the 53-man roster.


The next Charger that really proved his worth was running back Jordan Todman. The Chargers got a real steal in Todman, a sixth-round pick, if he can continue to play with the same energy that he showed against the Seahawks. During his first game with bolts on his shoulders, Todman continued to play with the same energy and heart that he has shown throughout training camp. He ran hard, dragged bigger defenders for extra yards and caught the ball well out of the backfield. By the time his night was over, he had racked up 30 yards on six carries and caught four passes for 21 yards. It might be a bit premature, but Todman has the skill set to be an effective third-down back and could help Chargers fans get over the loss of Darren Sproles.


The final player for the Chargers that really caught my attention was wide receiver Bryan Walters. An undrafted wide receiver out of Cornell, Walters turned in one of the most exciting plays of the game. He caught a kickoff, took off and 103 yards later had his first NFL touchdown. He also had two receptions for 34 yards. His big kick return gave the Chargers a momentum boost and helped display the improvement that the Chargers have undergone this off-season in the special teams department.


Undrafted quarterback Scott Tolzien had a tough third quarter, but showed some poise near the end of the game and almost choreographed a game-tying drive with time running out. Isaac Odim, an undrafted running back, ran hard but only managed to pick up six yards on four carries. Linebacker Jonas Mouton, a second-round pick, played decently and picked up four total tackles, but seemed a bit overwhelmed at times.


The Seahawks, who won the game 24-17, had some impressive young talent of their own on display. The first player that really stood out to me was linebacker K.J. Wright. A fourth-round pick, Wright played strong in his first NFL appearance and proved that he could handle being a centerpiece in the Seahawks’ defense. He showed outstanding maturity and held his own against a tough Chargers offense. By the game’s end, he had racked up eight total tackles, including seven solo. If he can continue to grow as an NFL linebacker, he’ll be a staple in this Seattle defense for years to come.


The biggest surprise from the Seahawks’ rookie group was undrafted quarterback Josh Portis, who played well for a guy who many considered more of an athlete than a quarterback. Portis started off the game sloppy, throwing passes into different area codes and not giving his receivers any chance of making plays. Once he settled down, he found a rhythm and showed immense poise for such a young, inexperienced quarterback. He drove the Seahawks offense down the field numerous times and led the team to a comeback that would not have been expected prior to halftime. When all was said and done, he had completed five of his nine passes for 69 yards and one touchdown.


The only other Seahawk that had a standout performance was undrafted wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Although he didn’t have overly impressive numbers on the night, he worked well as a safety valve for Seattle’s quarterbacks. He hauled in four passes for 29 yards. The numbers weren’t huge, but he worked hard to make the catches and showed plenty of athleticism and passion. He also made his presence felt on special teams, racking up 41 kick return yards and 22 punt return yards. The Seahawks landed an underrated receiver in Baldwin who could be extremely productive in 2011 if given the opportunity.


Linebacker Malcolm Smith, a seventh-round pick, made a few nice tackles on defense, ending the game with three. Although he only managed to tally two tackles, undrafted safety Jeron Johnson was a big presence in coverage and made some big hits while playing the run. Undrafted wide receiver Chris Carter hauled in two passes for 21 yards.


The preseason is still young, so there’s plenty of time for any of the aforementioned rookies to make a case for themselves as roster-spot worthy. They all potentially have three more preseason games to show coaches that they deserve to be on a 53-man NFL roster. Whether or not that happens will depend largely on the amount of effort, hard work and time their willing to put into their futures. Stay tuned as we continue to see these young players showcase their potentials.


Originally published on Yahoo! Sports

Gil Alcaraz IV

Gil is the owner of the Minnesota Vikings blog, The Viking Den, and an editorial writer for Lakers Nation. Having followed the NFL Draft for years, Gil has had a knack for naming some of the big surprise players to make it in the NFL. Gil is also a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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