Chargers Aim to Clip Hawks' Feathers Again
While most of San Diego was enjoying a day off at the beach, the Bolts were at Chargers Park for a “shorts and helmet” practice that had high temperatures and low fan attendance.
The day started with typical individual drills and a few notable players on the sidelines. Jason Verrett and Branden Oliver were rested. Johnnie Troutman had his right arm in a temporary cast and a sling after breaking it during Thursday’s preseason opener. CB Greg Ducre worked with one of the team trainers and — towards the end of practice — was watching plays with his right calf in ice.
Practice was slated to be easygoing, which was evident in most of the veterans. The rookies and those fighting for slots, however, took the opportunity to step up their game and didn’t let the heat beat them.
It is an easy stretch for the Chargers after grinding through the first two weeks of training camp. There was no practice on Friday after the Cowboys game, just as there is no practice on Sunday. After Saturday’s practice, we asked head coach McCoy about the practice schedule to find out if the plan was to rest players or if this was the plan all along.
“It’s a combination of all, to be honest,” McCoy said. “The practice schedule changes daily. We have a plan going into the training camps. Normally after a game it is a shorter practice. There are certain things we want to make sure we get done and a healthier team will shape your team and that changes from week to week and year to year. But I think the shape the players came in this year was outstanding. You also saw the effort in the game. They played with a lot of heart and worked hard, so to take care of them and to reward them, we had a lifting and running with a lighter practice today and we will grind it out on Monday.”
However, McCoy was adamant the heat has no effect on his plans for practice. He expects a high tempo on Monday and doesn’t care if it’s hot.
On the field, OLB Kyle Emanuel continues to make his presence known even to the King. During 11-on-11s, the rookie fifth-round pick beat King Dunlap to get into the backfield, which didn’t sit well with Dunlap, who then dug in his heels on the next play.
Malcom Floyd didn’t take it easy on the defense, spreading them out and then taking a pass from Philip Rivers into the end zone for a touchdown.
One of my favorite plays today was Stevie Johnson on a reverse. He is so quick in the backfield that if the defense blinks, they are going to miss him taking the ball. Couple that with him behind the massive right side of the offensive line. That’s positive yardage all day.
Later on, the offense took advantage of the defense not being set and a quick pass to Dontrell Inman resulted in an easy score.
DT Mitch Unrein was in the backfield more than the running backs. He won most of his battles on the line today, which included a lot of back peddling by the offensive linemen.
Denzel Perryman’s ability to read the offense is superb. The way he maintains eye contact with ball while the play is unfolding without throttling down is something this unit has been missing. This is a skill that turns great linebackers into play-making linebackers.
TE David Johnson really stepped up his game today and McCoy was zeroed in on him.
RB Dreamius Smith continues to impress and gave 100 percent effort. What I like about this guy is his ability to maintain his speed while staying low. His stand-up running speed is also impressive and if he gets past the second level, the secondary is in trouble.
H-back Kyle Miller took a couple of hand-offs today and did a nice job reading his linemen and the defense. His runs were all for positive yardage.
Javontee Herndon made some key plays and continues to demonstrate good hands. It’s going to be tough for McCoy to keep this kid off the roster.
Jeremiah Sirles continues to muscle up on the line and make defensive linemen pay the price for any mistakes. He has clearly benefited from the playing time he received late last season.
All in all, Saturday was a day to sharpen some techniques and for the coaches to continue to see who is standing out in desire and hard work.
Next week the team gets ready for the Cardinals, as the Chargers will travel to Arizona to play in their second preseason game. It was 114 degrees in Glendale on Saturday, so we can expect McCoy to work these guys in full gear on Monday no matter the temperature.
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Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for Scout.com and has also been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Footballinsiders.com and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter @NFLinsider_Mike.