NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Corey Liuget, #18 overall pick by the San Diego Chargers, on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Corey Liuget;Roger Goodell;
The Chargers have raised their talent level since going 9-7 last season and missing their first postseason since 2005.
That's what coach Norv Turner took away from his tape study Friday of the team's preseason opener, a 24-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night.
"We've improved ourselves in a number of spots, certainly defensively," Turner said, mentioning veteran newcomers Takeo Spikes and Bob Sanders and rookie end Corey Liuget.
The Chargers seem intent on preparing Liuget for the season opener Sept. 11 against the Vikings. The 21-year-old first-round draft pick played more than 40 snaps Thursday despite getting only one week of practice.
Liuget lined up at right end and left end. He also played tackle and blew past Seahawks center Mike Gibson to make a play nullified by a penalty.
"He just shows he's so explosive," Turner said. "He's got such great change of direction."
Turner had praise for other rookies as well, including linebacker Darryl Gamble, receiver/returner Bryan Walters, running back Jordan Todman, cornerback Marcus Gilchrist and linebacker Jonas Mouton.
"Our young guys, I think they can make the most improvement because they've got a feel of what it is to play in a game now," Turner said.
Turner said Gamble intrigues the team's special teams coach and earned extra chances at outside linebacker by making seven tackles and a sack against Seattle.
A day earlier, Turner reminded the team's young players that several current Chargers starters came to the club as undrafted free agents like Gamble.
"There is a number of guys who were Gamble when they got here," Turner said.
"The guys that are going to jump out are going to jump out, they just have to do it in a shorter period of time," Turner said. "And a guy like Gamble, you make a strong first impression to everybody, then you get more chances."