Chargers’ Slater, Washington’s Young get rematch in Week 1
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (7-9) at WASHINGTON (7-9)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, CBS
OPENING LINE: Chargers by 1, according to FanDuel SportsBook
SERIES RECORD: Washington leads 7-4
LAST MEETING: Chargers beat Washington 30-13 on Dec. 10, 2017 at Los Angeles
CHARGERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (18), PASS (6), SCORING (19)
CHARGERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (10), RUSH (18), PASS (9), SCORING (23)
WASHINGTON OFFENSE: OVERALL (30), RUSH (26), PASS (25), SCORING (25)
WASHINGTON DEFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (13T), PASS (2), SCORING (4)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Chargers plus-3; Washington minus -4.
CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Justin Herbert set rookie records last season with 31 touchdown passes and eight 300-yard games and earned AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Herbert did not play in any of the preseason games and will be running a new offense under coach Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
WASHINGTON PLAYER TO WATCH: Chase Young had 7 1/2 sacks last season despite constant double-teams and earned AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Now, along with fellow edge rusher Montez Sweat, Young is thinking and talking about breaking franchise sack records.
KEY MATCHUP: Chargers LT Rashawn Slater vs. Young. Young has been dominant, but Slater was one of the few offensive tackles to hold him in check when Northwestern faced Ohio State in 2019. Slater, the 13th overall pick in the draft, is set to make his NFL debut.
KEY INJURIES: Chargers RB Austin Ekeler missed practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury, which was an area of concern for him last season. ... Chargers RT Bryan Bulaga is expected to play after missing time in camp with various injuries. ... Washington WR Curtis Samuel will be limited at best and may not play at all because of a lingering groin injury that caused him to miss all of camp.
SERIES NOTES: The Chargers have won four out of their past five games against Washington. ... Their last visit to FedEx Field came nine years ago when they still played in San Diego. ... Staley visited Washington last season as defensive coordinator of the L.A. Rams. ... This is the third time the teams are opening the season against each other and the first time since 2001, which the Chargers won 30-3 in San Diego.
STATS AND STUFF: Staley makes his NFL head coaching debut. … This is the first of four trips to the East Coast for the Chargers this season … S Derwin James returns after missing last season because of a knee injury. … The Chargers have 22 players new to the roster, including three free agent signings on the offensive line. … Rookie LB Nick Niemann led the league in tackles during the preseason with 28. … WR Keenan Allen is one of only two players to have 95 or more receptions in four consecutive seasons. … WR Mike Williams is averaging 18.1 yards a reception over the past two seasons, which ranks third in the league. … Despite missing four games, DE Joey Bosa led NFL defensive linemen with 15 tackles for loss last season. ... Washington is looking to become the first NFC East team to win back-to-back division titles since Philadelphia finished first four years in a row from 2001-04. Washington hasn’t won the division in consecutive years since 1982-84. ... QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to make his Washington debut. . Washington will be the ninth team Fitzpatrick has started for during his 17-year pro career. ... RB Antonio Gibson is expected to be full go after missing time late last season with a toe injury. Despite playing just 14 games in 2020, Gibson tied for the most rushing touchdowns among rookies with 11. ... WR Terry McLaurin is coming off a season in which he had a career-best 87 receptions and 1,118 yards. ... TE Logan Thomas set career highs with 72 catches, 670 yards receiving and six TD catches last season. ... In addition to the sacks, Young led rookies with 10 tackles for loss and tied for the most forced fumbles with four. ... Sweat led Washington with nine sacks in 2020. ... LB Jamin Davis is expected to make his NFL debut after being drafted with the 19th overall pick. ... S Landon Collins is back after tearing his left Achilles tendon last October. ... Washington has a new long snapper after cutting Nick Sundberg and trading up to draft Camaron Cheeseman in the sixth round.
FANTASY TIP: If Samuel does not play, rookie WR Dyami Brown should start alongside McLaurin. Brown, Cam Sims and DeAndre Carter could all get extra catch opportunities in Samuel’s absence.
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