1. Ryan Mathews is for real, but... Mathews again showed his toughness and burst. He still needs to learn to show a bit more patience (he knocked over Hardwick on a screen play). Charger fans should also worry about Mathew's health. He's tough and doesn't avoid pounding tackles, and this resulted in a bloody nose last night (and concussions in college). He can't try to run over every linebacker in the NFL if he wants to last a full season.
- Dombrowski's OK!: He stood up well for the most part against DeMarcus Ware and made some nice blocks down field in the run and screen game. One more point for AJ Smith in the ongoing test of wills against Marcus McNeill.
- Clary's not OK!: Jeromey Clary still looks below average at right tackle. Rivers' one interception was partially caused by Clary getting pushed right back into his QB's face, causing a poor throw. He also seems to have trouble blocking anyone in the open field. The guy is simply a weak link on the line. If the Chargers could bring back McNeill, I'd bet Dombrowski would end up starting at right tackle, putting Clary on the bench (where he belongs).
- Louis Vasquez looks great: The second year guard started last year, was injured in the first game, causing him to miss significant time during the season and slowing his development. Last night he showed great skill and strength in blocking down field on screens and firing off the ball and smacking linebackers in the face on run plays. His development could be the difference in the success of the running game this season.
- Tolbert will back up Mathews: Mike Tolbert ran around, through and over defenders last night, showcasing not only his obvious strength, but his surprising speed. He was able to turn the corner a few times, beating linebackers to the edge (anyone remember Natrone Means?). While good news for the Chargers and Tolbert, this is likely bad news for Marcus Mason, Shawnbrey McNeal and Curtis Brinkley, who will have to fight for a spot on the practice squad.
- Stuckey is not ready: Darrell Stuckey got his first dose of major playing time last night, and while he looked athletic, fast and strong on the field, he also didn't seem comfortable in the defense or in the flow of the game. He has been out with an injury, so perhaps he'll get up to speed with more practice and two more preseason games, but if I had to bet right now, I would say Steve Gregory will be the starter in the opening game.
- Larry English is not a game changer: English still looks quick, but somewhat one-dimensional, as all he can do is rush around the edge on passing downs. Tackles can simply nudge him past the QB. He needs to get better to not be considered a bust of a first round pick.
- Cam Thomas should start at nose: Of all the DT's rotating in at nose, the rookie Thomas looks the quickest and most dangerous out there. The other guys hold the line, Thomas pushes the center backwards or zips across the line of scrimmage on passing downs. He should be "the guy" when the regular season starts.
- Antwan Applewhite deserves consideration for a starting job: Again this week, the most dynamic and aggressive linebacker was Applewhite. If Shawne Merriman continues to have injury problems or is simply ineffective when the regular season starts, Applewhite should get the nod. The guy is a beast who finds ways to create chaos.
10. Nathan Vasher is a gamer: The former Pro Bowl free agent pick up was all over the field last night. He's not a real big or imposing guy, even for a corner, but he fought through blocks and made some great tackles on the edge against the run and was always right with his receiver on passing plays. He will be very valuable at some point this season.
Overall, the Chargers looked a little better this week and the Cowboys looked horrible (anyone notice Wade Phillips' body language throughout the game? Exasperation). Tony Romo looked completely out of sorts all night, and I don't think it had much to do with what the Chargers were doing. It could be a season of disappointment in Dallas.