Chargers Aim to Clip Hawks' Feathers Again
Monday’s training camp practice started out with only a few hundred fans in attendance. Apparently, Monday called for most of San Diego to attend to this bothersome thing called work. Not to worry San Diego, I have it all here for you.
Only a couple of players were rested on Monday: center Trevor Robinson and cornerback Greg Ducre, who was on the sideline after doing some footwork drills with one of the trainers. Ducre was also on the sideline last week.
The remainer of the team was in full gear preparing to travel to Glendale Arizona to face the Cardinals.
The Sixty-Five Million Dollar Man
Buzz from the fans was complete relief that Philip Rivers’ contract was extended. When I asked a few fans what they thought about Rivers making elite quarterback money, the response was all the same: They didn’t care how much he earned as he stayed with the Chargers. One fan named Melvin added, “If we needed to take tax money to pay that man, I would have signed the ballot.”
Take note, Kevin Faulconer, apparently you need to rename the new stadium Philip Rivers Stadium and we can put that issue to bed already.
After practice, we asked Antonio Gates what it meant to him to know Rivers had been extended.
“To be honest with you, it’s a blessing. I’m just so happy for him that he gets to finish his career here. That is so hard to do in this league,” Gates said.
Gates added that staying with the franchise was his goal, too.
The team started with the normal individual drills after warm-ups and then focused on 7-on-7 team drills before returning to more detailed and coached individual drills.
The QBs were taking snaps and throwing passes under duress. While one assistant threw a hitting shield at them, one player trying to strip the ball, and another assistant blocked their view downfield. All four quarterbacks completed their passes with ease.
The wide receivers did their daily drills with an added focus on completing overhead passes. With the speed of this wide receiver unit, I think we are going to see a lot of passes like this as we all know this is one of Rivers most effective throws downfield.
Defensive backs and linebackers took on tight ends for quick passes off the line of scrimmage. The offensive and defensive lines did one-on-three penetration drills. The lines focused on footwork, speed and hand placement.
Running backs worked on hand-offs from the left and the right from an “I” formation set and while in motion.
Melvin Gordon looked light on his feet and agile. Branden Oliver just keeps getting better, as does undrafted rookie Jahwan Edwards. Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead also looked solid, but Edwards has a look in his eyes that he just might go Ozzy Osborne and bite the head off of a bat if you try to tackle him. Like Oliver, Edwards is built like a mini tank, so to bring either of them down is going to take organic low gravity muscle.
The receivers were all on fire today. Malcom Floyd was taking deep passes from Rivers like they were in game mode. Austin Pettis was laying out for receptions. Jacoby Jones punished any defender that didn’t bring him down immediately after a catch by turning up field. If the Arizona defense allows this man to turn and burn after a catch, it’s going to be a long day for the Cardinals secondary.
My standout from the wide receivers unit was rookie Tyrell Williams. He grabbed difficult passes, passes near the sidelines, deep routes, slant routs, and even beat out double coverage to secure a catch. The only thing this guy didn’t catch today was a cold. This rookie from Western Oregon is on fire.
Outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu really brought his “A” game. He made cornering around the tackles to get to the quarterbacks look too easy. He laid out some amazing spin moves during 11-on-11s and had great running reads.
Guard Melvin Meggs came out of nowhere today and was in total beast mode. The rookie from South Alabama College has slowly started to make plays and today he made his presence known.
Another player who stepped it up on the line was Michael Huey. Huey filled in for Robinson at center and did great. His shotgun snaps are dead-on and he pops the defender quickly after the snap. He is strong, has great footwork and didn’t get pushed backwards.
This week, Huey is returning to his old stomping grounds in Arizona where he played three seasons for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.
I spoke with Huey after practice and asked him what it feels like going back to Arizona for the first time as an NFL player.
“It’s good to go back and see all of my friends, everyone that I played with,” he said. “[It is] a feeling of accomplishment to show the younger guys to keep trucking, keep pushing and eventually you’ll get to where you want to be.”
I then asked Huey what were some of his biggest transitions coming from the AFL to the NFL.
“In Arena I played center, guard, fullback and tight end. Here is mainly center and a little bit of guard,” he said. “Obviously, the drives are a lot longer. In the NFL a 12-play drive is like nothing. In the AFL three plays and you’re done. So I have to have my conditioning up a little bit. But like I have said in past interviews, [the AFL] a great stepping stone to the NFL.”
I wrapped up by asking No. 69 about playing against the Cardinals’ new interim linebackers coach, Jen Welter, who is the first female coach in NFL history.
“It’s called Coach. It’s not Mr. Coach or Mrs. Coach. Whoever’s got the mind and the smarts to be able to coach a good football scheme and be able to help the players, by all means more power to her.”
And just like that Huey solidifies an entire new nation of female football fans.
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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.