Friday, Then Weekend Leave

A cool breeze kicked through the San Diego air this morning as players prepared themselves for the practice session. Why exactly will the Chargers take training camp up to Carson July 22nd? A topic for another day perhaps. With the weekend off, Friday's practice was chock full of drills and coaching sessions.

Notes from Friday's practice:

The running backs started out horridly. Three consecutive backs went out into pass catching drills and all proceeded to fail the important part of the drill, actually catching the pass. None of the balls were thrown poorly but Andrew Pinnock, Lorenzo Neal and Joey Goodspeed all missed the receptions. The sad part is no one was covering them. Overheard by everyone in attendance was a "God Damn!" screamed by the coaching staff at the lack of hands from the unit. About a minute later PJ Mays missed a high pass from Rob Adamson and the group huddles up with the coaches to talk basics, starting with how to catch a ball.

After the coaches get into a heated discussion with the group they set out again and Mays finally catches one for the group, but not before bobbling it.

In the middle of one field sits the linebackers practicing their reaction times to passes thrown exactly six yards from where they stand. The idea is to read the quarterback and break on the ball in hopes of deflecting the ball or coming up with the interception. Zeke Moreno highlighted this drill getting at least a hand on each ball thrown and intercepting a few others. Conversely, Jude Waddy was not even close to touching a ball, a bad sign for a journeyman trying to make the squad.

A pass intended for Josh Lyman was too high and fell to the ground incomplete from Drew Brees. Lyman has rarely seen his name called during the sessions through the week and the few chances he has had, the quarterbacks have not been kind.

Brian Sump again made some remarkable plays. He has really had a solid week. On a crossing pattern Brees threw a ball to Sump but the ball was thrown too wide, yet Sump fully extended into an ugly attempt at acrobatics and came up with the ball as he tumbled head over heels, ball securely fastened under an arm.

A few minutes later Sump would again light up the stage. On an out and up pattern Sump headed towards the goal line, but the ball was slightly behind him and again Sump flailed into the wind to somehow make the grab, the only problem, he caught it out of bounds. Still the play does not go unnoticed by the coaching staff. The goal of any undrafted free agent is to play with heart each any every day and Sump is exhibiting just that.

On a third down drill Brees again found Sump a yard past the marker for a "first down." Sump did not miss an opportunity when given the chance today. Three balls thrown his way during "live" drills and three balls caught, one out of bounds.

On the other field the defensive line was practicing engaging each other with coaches pointing out weak spots to attack while engaged. It was more of a walkthrough as no real contact was being initiated.

In the cover-deuce the Chargers will employ this season it is crucial for the defensive backs to direct the receiver towards the strength of the defense. With that in mind the defensive backs were practicing bumping each other and forcing the "receiver" to the inside, providing extra coverage on the outside. After forcing a receiver in they would release back towards the sidelines to protect the deeper balls or the possibility of the "receiver" cutting back to the outside.

Toniu Fonoti was playing left guard again today and looked to be in good shape pulling out on running drills. The quad that he has rehabbed over the course of three months looks to be in playing shape and Fonoti appears to be in better shape than late last season.

Kelvin Garmon has been a little slow out of his stance at right guard but once up out of his stance he is hustling to make blocks. On one such occasion later in the session Garmon nailed a blocking pad holding Kassim Osgood who went flying through the air before landing in a tumble and pad flailing out wide. Garmon simply gave him a stare, turned and walked away without offering a hand or saying a word. Giving it to the rookie? Hard to say, but we like to think that was it.

Damion McIntosh, playing left guard looks nimble and ready to rumble in what will be his contract year. His deal this season was for one year, leaving him an unrestricted free agent after the season if he does not sign before then. McIntosh was pulling out wide to open lanes during drills this morning and seems to be on a mission to break the bank.

Justin Peelle renowned for his blocking was lazy on his assignments today. While most guys are pushing themselves to be better, Peelle was lackadaisical. This may be just one day, but now is the time when habits are formed.

Stephen Cooper may have landed himself into the doghouse after providing lazy coverage against Justin Peelle five yards past the line of scrimmage. After Peelle caught the ball Cooper eased up and did not pursue the play, letting Peelle slip by him. The idea is for as many defenders to touch the receiver as possible. Cooper did not even try, not something that will endear himself to the coaches, especially as an undrafted free agent.

Donnie Edwards was taking his usual stance covering tight ends today. This day was not his however. Stephen Alexander got a step on Edwards and caught in stride for what would have been a big gain. The reward for Alexander was a high five from some coaches for beating the best cover linebacker the Chargers have.

The defense was solid in today's session. The main idea of the cover-deuce is to take away the deep plays, but it is known to give up some intermediate routes. Today the defense held the quarterbacks to dump-offs, in fact most of the catches against them were of the 5 yard or less variety. Score one for the defense even if it is just a moral victory, it had to feel good.

Dog of the Day:

The defense ran sprints Friday and unlike yesterday when we focused on who won the drill, today we focus on the slow man on the totem pole. Otis Leverette came in last today. Not a good sign from a defensive end. It looked like he was limping slightly and if that is the case, he still ran out two such sideline to sideline sprint drills. If he was not hurt, it smells of impending doom.

More notes to come regarding Mackenzie Hoambrecker and his field goals, as well as an offense versus defense drill with a full set of downs and 80 yards to go for a touchdown on Sunday morning.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net or via the following link: Denis Savage

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