Defensive line could be a major sore sport for the Chargers in 2010

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Linebacker Shawn Merriman #56, Jyles Tucker #94, and Luis Castillo #93 of the San Diego Chargers leads the team in a cheer before the start of the game against the Denver Broncos during Monday Night Football on October 19, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the issues the Chargers could have up front on defense.

Thanks to GM A.J. Smith’s ongoing battle with the disgruntled Vincent Jackson, one could argue that receiver will be the Chargers’ biggest weakness heading into the new season. But even without Jackson, quarterback Philip Rivers will have plenty of targets to throw to in tight end Antonio Gates, wideout Malcom Floyd and up-and-comer Legedu Naanee.

With that in mind, the Bolts’ biggest issue still lies on the defensive side of the ball.

In 2009, the Chargers ranked 20th in the league against the run, allowing 117.6 yards per game. After Smith failed to address the defensive line this offseason, run defense could once again be the team’s Achilles heel.

Luis Castillo is still considered the team’s best defensive lineman, but he finished last year with career-lows in sacks (one) and tackles (25). He also underwent offseason shoulder surgery and has missed 15 starts over the past four seasons.

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Rotoworld’s favorite fliers

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 21: Jacoby Jones  of the Houston Texans is tackled by Anthony Waters  of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on August 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Adam Levitan of Rotoworld released his list of late-round fliers, and there are a few interesting names to be found:

1. JACOBY JONES: Kevin Walter continues to keep his nose in front as the starter, but Jones is right there.

For a guy that only had 27 catches last season, Jones had some good games. He went for 2-73-1 against Tennessee, 7-94-1 in two games against Indy, and finished with a total of 7-144-2 over the last two games against the Dolphins and Pats. Walter is better suited for the slot, but Jones has to be consistent to get starter’s snaps, especially if Owen Daniels is anywhere close to 100%.

2. JABAR GAFFNEY: Locked in as a starter and looking like Kyle Orton’s favorite target. How does he have an ADP of 160?

I’m starting to warm up to Gaffney, who continues to be Orton’s first choice in the passing game. A career filled with fantasy disappointment ensures that you’ll be able to get him late. His value is enhanced in PPR leagues.

3. KAREEM HUGGINS: He’s up to No. 2 on the Bucs’ depth chart, ahead of Derrick Ward. With Cadillac Williams still a major injury risk, Huggins should be drafted in all leagues at this point.

I was a fan of Ward when he went to TB, so I’m surprised that he’s on the outs given what they’re paying him, but there is a buzz about the ‘explosive’ Huggins.

5. MIKE WILLIAMS (TB): The rookie has drawn praise from everyone under the sun. Strong bet to lead the Bucs in receiving yards.

I reached for him in the early 10th in my industry insiders league, but I wanted to lock him up in at least one league. He’s the WR1 in Tampa Bay and Josh Freeman is a capable QB. Finishing in the top 30 is a real possibility.

7. LEGEDU NAANEE: He’s the clear No. 2 receiver in San Diego and is dropping jaws with his raw skills. Tons of upside here.

Owners are all over Maclom Floyd, But Naanee has considerable athleticism. Remember, with Gates controlling the middle of the field, the third option in the SD passing game generally doesn’t do a whole lot.

8. OWEN DANIELS: Coming off ACL surgery, he’s hoping to be cleared as soon as this week. He’s a beast when healthy and is worth a stash as well if there’s roster space.

It’s all about that knee. Daniels is in a contract year so he’s going to gut it out if he can. He’s not a bad guy to grab if you take Zach Miller or Visanthe Shiancoe later on, assuming you want to form a little TE committee.

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