“Chargers-Some Fact-Some Fiction”
Ah the exuberance from players as NFL-OTA workouts begin. It probably sounded the same in San Diego as it did in other NFL cities. Excited and optimistic.
The Chargers started 5-weeks of OTA-conditioning drills, welcoming in 6-new assistant coaches to Mike McCoy’s staff. The team is looking to replace 16-veterans, cut loose, allowed to walk, or those who defected as free agents.
Everybody had something to say on Monday after the first on-field conditioning drills.
There is never-ever a cloudy day in the life of quarterback Philip Rivers, extolling the fact that his team is (0-0) and that last year’s (4-12) sandblast of a season was in the rear view mirror. Fine and dandy to believe things will be better, because maybe they could not have gotten much worse.
Taken at face value, it was the quarterback acting as the leader, spreading sunshine, while it was 91-degrees on the practice field at Chargers Park.
But the reality is, as all those battered offensive lineman ran wind sprints and did stretching exercises, healthy now, we must understand some of those guys are a glancing blow away from another concussion, and we know what happened last year when that happened. Five of the top six guys in the trenches were hurt last year.
Keenan Allen is back, fully recovered from the scary lacerated kidney that wrecked his season. He’s come to camp lighter in weight, to improve speed, but says the seriousness of the injury was just a ‘football thing’. He has discussed wearing a flack jacket to protect himself, but seemed to indicate he would really need to be convinced it was a necessity. I assume it was the macho in him.
Jason Verrett played nearly the entire season sans-major injuries, and wound up going to the Pro Bowl. He really believes in veteran teammate Brandon Flowers, though few others do. And he thinks the acquisition of Dwight Lowery and Casey Hayward, both coming in with a chip on their shoulder, will speak well about focus and leadership.
It was odd took hear a player say there would be no drop-off in the post-Eric Weddle era, as if, here today, gone tomorrow, there would be no drop-off in leadership nor talent. Business being business, I think Everett was wrong in that thought.
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was a Seahawk and knows about winning and esprit-d’-court. He should help alot.
It was fascinating to watch Ryan Benjamin, the ex-Brown, who can fly. He is small but explosive, and his quarterback believes he can make big yards after catch, as he did in Cleveland.
The other guy who caught your attention was the CFL-transplant from the Edmonton Eskimos, 6’4 linebacker-safety Dexter McCoil. He is huge for a DB, and CFL people say he is quick as a linebacker. He was a turnover machine in Canada. He is not a block of cement in the Shawne Merriman mold, but he is a hitter. And he would be the tallest DB in a group of smaller guys.
It was universal though to hear the Chargers players express the excitement about the upcoming draft, and the impact players who will be on the board with the team’s 3rd pick in the first round, and what they might do in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, where they draft early in each round.
Of course everyone is excited. It’s the corporate thing to say. But for now, the mess of injuries, the distraction of the stadium situation, the upheaval in the coaching ranks is yesterday’s old news. April turning to May in these camps will show us whether the Chargers organization can follow up and make an impressive improvement over the carnage from last year.
For 1-day, it was feel good day to talk to players.
Excited and optimistic, even if it is a bit unrealistic.