Chargers coach Anthony Lynn evaluates two quarterbacks

on Aug21

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn had a specific goal in mind when he gave quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Cardale Jones equal time Sunday night, playing Clemens in the first half and Jones in the second half of a 13-7 preseason loss the New Orleans Saints in StubHub Center.

“I’d like to create a little competition there,” Lynn said of the backup job behind starter Philip Rivers, who watched the game from the sidelines.

Jones, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound two-way threat acquired from Buffalo in the first week of August, must not have seen the memo.

“To me, Kellen is our backup,” Jones said. “He’s like another coach on the field. I’m just soaking up every bit of knowledge I can from Kellen, Phil and Mike [Bercovici]. That’s my personal opinion about the competition, about the position, whatever you want to call it. I’m still learning the offense.”

Clemens, a veteran backup with 21 starts in 11 NFL seasons, the last three with the Chargers, completed 10 of 17 passes for 99 yards, scrambled three times for 26 yards and was sacked four times.

Jones, who led Ohio State to a national championship after the 2014 season, completed seven of 15 passes for 61 yards and took four sacks.

“Kellen is our No. 2,” Lynn said, when asked where the competition for the backup quarterback spot stands. “Cardale is learning. He’s been here 21/2 weeks. He’s getting better, but he’s not there yet.”

A patchwork offensive line without injured tackles Russell Okung and Joe Barksdale needed several series to find its footing, and Clemens spent much of the first quarter under heavy pressure. Jones didn’t get much protection from the second- and third-team linemen.

Clemens did have a few bright spots, dashing for runs of 14 and 15 yards and splitting a seam in the zone defense on a 20-yard pass to Geremy Davis midway through the second quarter.

He completed five of seven passes for 42 yards in a hurry-up offense just before halftime, but Andre Williams was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-one play from the Saints 36.

Jones drove the Chargers into the red zone midway through the third quarter, but receiver Jamaal Jones, after catching an eight-yard pass, was hit and lost a fumble at the Saints eight-yard line.

“I’m still having some ups and downs,” Cardale Jones said. “Today, I was able to call plays without a wrist band, so I was pretty proud of that. I know where everybody needs to go. Now I’m just trying to make plays.”

Etc.

Pro-Bowl cornerbacks Casey Hayward (hamstring) and Jason Verrett (knee surgery) did not dress. … Reserve cornerbacks Trovon Reed (hip) and Craig Mager (lower body) also sat out. … Barksdale, the starting right tackle, watched the game with a protective boot on his right foot. Okung, the starting left tackle, has a minor ankle injury. … Reserve running back Kenjon Barner, who was in concussion protocol last week, carried three times for minus-one yard. … Tyreek Burwell, who started at left tackle, went to the locker room early in the second quarter and returned with his right hand wrapped. … Offensive lineman Max Tuerk, a former USC standout, left in the third quarter because of a finger injury. … Reserve running back Kenneth Farrow left in the fourth quarter because of an ankle injury.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna



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