Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt: "This is a critical week for a lot of these guys."

Chargers Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt addresses the media before practice

On expectations for the offense during the last preseason game:

I think we'll get a chance to evaluate some more of our players. This is a critical week for a lot of these guys and I think the big thing is with some of the veteran guys who are not going to play they can still be involved and help. There will be a couple of these guys that make the team this weekend and that's a big thing.

On RB Detrez Newsome competing for a roster spot as backup running back:

Well, we have a number of guys who are in contention for that spot. I think that Detrez has done a good job for himself as far as getting better as the preseason has gone on. We'll get an opportunity to see some of these guys as we've had some injuries. We'd like to see [RB] Justin [Jackson] and see how he can perform this week. Hopefully, we'll be able to see that. That position [running back] is one that I think some things can be determined in this game. 

On Newsomes skillset:

Well, every one of them is different. If you look at [RB] Austin [Ekeler] and you look at [RB] Melvin [Gordon III], those are two guys that are different. I think he [Newsome] has done a good job from where he started to the improvement hes made every week and he's made some big plays. It's always great to see young guys develop that way and kudos to him.

On RB Austin Ekeler:

I guess he was ready to go. In that position, to step in there and play the way he did we've seen Austin make good plays for us and run well. For the third preseason [game] and to see him to do that, it was nice.

On the offensive line:

The offensive line has done a good job consistently through [training] camp and this summer. I think the chemistry with that group has been good. We've been fortunate that they've all been able to play together for all of preseason. It was good to see us have some success with those guys [offensive line]. There's obviously some confidence with that group. Success in this game, in large part, is confidence. It was good to be able to do that for those first two [offensive] series.

On WR Mike Williams as a red zone threat:

Well, I think he [Mike Williams] has shown us throughout the course of camp all of the different things that he can do. Whether it's running a shallow [route], whether it's running a curl [route]. You [also] felt like he can [get] some of the balls down the field and make the contested catches, but some of the crossing routes and type of things, you didn't really see him do a lot of those in college. I think he's expanded his ability to line up in different spots and do different things. Now as far as red zone, that's all going to be specific based upon what the opponent's doing to you and trying to create matchups down there. It's good when you have a number of guys who can be flexible. That goes back to what we like the most about Mike. If you said, 'Coming into this summer, it was Mike lines up in one spot and what does he do? You throw him the ball, he jumps up and catches it.' I think now, he's lined up in a bunch of different spots and has done different assignments. So you can't just say, 'Mike's going to line up on the right side and they're going to throw him the jump ball.' He might run a cross route, he might run a shallow [route], or he might line up in the slot. There's a lot different places that he can appear and that's good because he's a big guy that does a nice job who goes up and gets the ball. That's a valuable commodity in the red zone.

On Mike Williams' development as a route runner:

I think he [Mike] really worked at it. I think that some of it is that his confidence has improved as he's been able to make some plays. We've had a couple of different guys in camp, whether it was [WR] Tyrell [Williams] or [WR] Travis [Benjamin] who missed a little bit of time. When that happened, he [Mike] has had to fill in some different spots and that's probably been good for him. If you think about all of the different spots that [WR] Keenan [Allen] lines up in when he does that, then the other guys need to move around and play other spots. We've been able to manage that with our group because they are smart and work really hard at it. Mike's been able to fit into that mentality and ultimately it helps.

On WR Keenan Allen making a notable block during the preseason:

I think it really sets the tone for the team when you have an unselfish guy who does that. He's a competitor and really showed how important it is to him. That in turn, makes a difference for our team and offense. It was good to see that.

On the injury risk in the preseason:

There's always things you can do off of that. One time he [Keenan Allen] blocks, or one time you do a play-action off it. We have been able to mix those things up. In that position, you are required to block. Good running football teams and teams that have success, their receivers take it upon themselves to be good blockers and our guys have worked hard at that. Keenan has been a leader from that standpoint and has always been a good blocker. That can help us. You try to reward them by giving them different things [to work] off that, whether it's a play-action where he [Keenan Allen] has a cross [route], or even some of the sets that look like run sets. [Especially], where he's able to make some plays. It's a good mix and you continue to grow and build on those things. 

On any clear standouts from the third preseason game against New Orleans:

I think there were a lot of guys from that first group. In the first two drives, there wasn't a lot to complain about. We had a lot of different guys, whether it was behind with [FB] Derek Watt making a couple of good blocks. Or if it was Austin [Ekeler]. Of course, [QB] Philip [Rivers] always plays well with receivers blocking. After that, as it happens a lot of times when you're playing with different guys, we had some guys that did well in spurts, but over the course of the game, with the way it went, it was hard to single out anyone. That's what this week is for. This is a big week for some of these guys to really show where they are. 

On OL Zack Golditch:

He's improving, that's one of the things. If you had to say anything about Zack, it is from where he started to where he is now, he has gotten better. He has played a number of different positions for us and that's not always easy. I think his competitiveness is something that really stands out. You like what you see from him in that standpoint. Flexibility is another thing. When you look at that position, if you're not going to be the starter then what type of value do you have as a potential guard/tackle? Can you do both of those positions? He has lined up at both of those spots during the course of camp. [Offensive Line] Coach [Pat] Meyer has done a great job at putting [Golditch] at different spots in order to try and assess where he is as player and you need to give Zack credit for working hard to get better. He's just another one of those guys who has improved from the start of [training] camp. This game will be big for him. It will be a way to show some consistency and how he competes over a number of plays. 

On Golditch story surrounding the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting:

It's an incredible story. To have gone through that [movie theater shooting] and to be in the NFL with a chance to be on the team it's an incredible story. I think it gives you a great perspective on life and it's great to see him competing and being here with us.

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