San Diego Receives Royal Treatment
By Andrew Burer
Finally, it’s the Eddie Royal the San Diego Chargers have been waiting for.
Royal followed up a two-touchdown game against the Houston Texans by scoring three more touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, pushing his season total to five and tying his career high in just two games. Moreover, his multi-touchdown games against Houston and Philadelphia marked the first time in his career he’s caught more than one touchdown in a single game.
“There is a system in place,” said Chargers coach Mike McCoy. “In certain situations where they are going to pressure you or something happens where we have a possible audible or a check-wit- me play that Philip (Rivers) is going to get in from one play to the next, Eddie has been in the right position at the right time and has made the plays when they’ve been there.”
McCoy has certainly found a way to use Royal. The sixth-year receiver has created a mismatch for opposing defenses. Multiple times over the first two games, tight end Antonio Gates has been double-covered, leaving Royal one-on-one or completely free.
“I know he’s fired up, and the whole team is fired up to have him get going like this early in the year,” Rivers said. “We always knew he was capable of it, but with injuries last year he couldn’t get in a rhythm.”
Royal, who was brought in to man the slot and create space for other playmakers, struggled with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for six games last season. He finished the year with 23 receptions for 234 yards and one touchdown -- nowhere near the kind of production the Chargers originally envisioned. Hope was again dampened after Royal suffered a bruised lung and concussion during a training-camp practice and missed the final two preseason games. But that hasn’t slowed his start to the regular season.
His five touchdown receptions are a NFL high and his 10 catches are tied for the team lead.
“He looked great in the spring and in camp,” said offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. “It was unfortunate that he got hurt at the end because he was having a good camp and we were excited about what he could do. … Hopefully we can get him a few more (touchdowns).”
With receivers Danario Alexander out for the season with a torn ACL, and Malcom Floyd out for at least the next month after sustaining a neck injury against Philadelphia, Royal should have even more opportunities to flourish in the Chargers new offense.