New Faces: OT Bryan Bulaga, CB Chris Harris Jr., DT Linval Joseph, OG Trai Turner, QB Justin Herbert, LBs Kenneth Murray and Nick Vigil, OL coach James Campen
Key Losses: QB Philip Rivers. RB Melvin Gordon, FB Derek Watt, S Adrian Phillips, OT Russell Okung, WR Travis Benjamin, LBs Jatavis Brown and Thomas Davis Sr., DT Brandon Mebane.
Strengths: DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram form one of top passing-rushing duos in league and combined for 18 1/2 sacks last season. Bosa is highest-paid defensive player in NFL after signing five-year, $135 million extension in late July. Secondary has potential to be one of league’s best with addition of Harris. After 14 years of Rivers as starter, offense will be more mobile and unpredictable with Taylor (or possibly Herbert) under center.
Weaknesses: Left tackle remains glaring hole. Sam Tevi moves there from right side, but allowed eight sacks last season, among most by AFC tackles. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both gained 1,000 receiving yards last season, but Chargers lack depth at receiver and don’t possess much speed. Defense was among worst in league in not getting off field on third downs, finished last in takeaways (14). Linebacking unit remains young and lacks depth. Safety Derwin James will miss the season after having knee surgery. He missed 10 games last year because of a broken foot after being an All-Pro selection as a rookie in 2018.
Pandemic Development: Coach Anthony Lynn had coronavirus in June between end of offseason zoom sessions and start of training camp. Chargers were one of few teams to not have anyone opt out for season.
Fantasy Player To Watch: RB Austin Ekeler becomes team’s top back after Gordon’s departure. Ekeler is not every-down back, but he had 1,500 scrimmage yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 2019. He was 7 yards shy of reaching 1,000 receiving yards last year.
Vegas Says: Win Super Bowl: 45-1. Over/under wins: 7 1/2.
Expectations: Chargers move into SoFi Stadium looking to return to form from two years ago, when they won 12 games and advanced to divisional playoff round. Taylor or Herbert will have variety of weapons at skill positions, but how much time they have to throw depends on how quickly line can coalesce. Turnovers — committing and forcing — and giving up big plays were downfall last season, along with being plagued by injuries. There is good mix of veterans and rookies, but Kansas City remains class of AFC West.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL