This is a list of some of the players that are really going to be counted on to make plays and help lead the Chargers to their fifth straight playoff appearance.
1. Ryan Mathews- Their first-round draft pick who will be counted on to make an immediate impact in the running game will have a huge chip on his shoulders as he tries to replace one of the greatest Chargers of all time, Ladainian Tomlinson.
2. Philip Rivers- He’s the starting quarterback and leader of the team. Enough said.
3. Nathan Vasher- Filling the second cornerback spot that was left open in the wake of the Antonio Cromartie trade, he will be expected to make an immediate impact in the passing game. That may not be an easy task, however.
4. Malcom Floyd- Assuming that Vincent Jackson continues to holdout until Week 10 of the regular season, Floyd will need to step up his game and become more of a factor and a bigger target for Rivers.
5. Cam Thomas, Antonio Garay, or Ogemdi Nwagbuo- Someone is going to have to step up and fill the void that his left with the departure of nose tackle Jamal Williams, who left for Denver. My guess is that Thomas will take the majority of that playing time.
6. Antonio Gates- With no Jackson in the picture in the near future, Gates will need to step up his productivity and take some of the pressure off of the young receivers who will be forced into playing time.
7. Tra Thomas or whoever takes over during Marcus McNeill’s absence- One of the most important spots in football, the left offensive tackle spot will be a glaring hole for the Chargers with McNeill out of the picture. Hopefully Thomas or another young tackle can elevate their game and fill the void effectively.
8. Larry English- After being made the Chargers first-round pick in 2009, English was nowhere near as productive as he was expected to be. 2010 is when he will really be expected to live up to that first-round pick billing.
9. Darren Sproles- With a rookie starting running back and no Jackson, Sproles will be depended on to fill in for Mathews when the going gets tough and hopefully will aide Rivers as a safety-valve and lightning rod coming out of the backfield on third-downs.
10. Nate Kaeding- He needs to make field goals in the playoffs. As simple as that. Missing three out of three field goals during the divisional round of the playoffs is unacceptable, especially for a kicker who only missed three of his thirty five fields during the entire regular season.
Honorable Mention: Shawne Merriman- He needs to come back from injuries and return to the old Merriman that left opposing offenses sucking their thumbs.