Various Notes from Camp

The Mini-Camps are over and now is the time to get those last minute vacations in. San Diego Chargers Coach Schottenheimer will spend some time with his grandkids while LaDainian Tomlinson heads to hold what should be the first of many football camps in Texas. Does that mean the news and notes will end?<br><br> Hardly, but here are some various notes of interest left over from the weekend Mini-Camp…

Don't worry this is not the last notes section you will see. In fact, I still have plenty more but will use them over the next few weeks as we look at some different battles that will be shaping up as well as who will be among the first to be shipped out of town.

In a fitting end to the weekend, BJ Lovett was the first one to come out for the afternoon session. In case you were wondering I didn't quite get to the fitting part. Just as he started the session off by being first out of the locker room, he made the last catch of the day on the last play of scrimmage. Playing with markers denoting the yards needed to get a first Lovett ran a 10 yard curl and settled into an open zone as Cleo Lemon hit him between the corners for a first down. Just as he caught the ball the horn sounded ending the session.

How did that last drive go down? Starting from the 20 the offense drove down the field using downs and trying to score before the bell sounded.

LaMarcus McDonald played well on the drive. He came out of his position to block Josh Norman and when the quarterback tried to thread the needle and get the ball into Norman it was knocked down by McDonald.

LaDainian Tomlinson, playing in the few snaps of 11-on-11 that he was allowed after getting a charley horse the day before, slipped going around the left end and almost hit the ground. He was corralled quickly after the misstep and would not return to prevent further potential injury.

Tim Dwight threw his hands as if he had not heard the play call from Drew Brees and Brees moved out to instruct him. As he moved out and set, the ball was snapped directly to Reche Caldwell who went over right tackle to gain a few.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer began yelling, "Need a yard! Need a yard!" It was third and one by the markers.

Cleo Lemon took advantage of loose coverage when he threw the ball to Dondre Gilliam on a wide receiver screen and Gilliam scrambled a good 8 yards. Plenty for a first down.

Brees felt some serious heat applied by Doug Sims and Kassim Osgood didn't recognize the blitz as he ran his route as normal. Brees threw the ball up expecting Oz to come back to him and Quentin Jammer had the ball go through his hands, narrowly missing an interception. Oz and Brees huddled after the play.

Ben Leber then brought some pressure on a blitz. He was untouched and into the backfield quickly registering a "sack" on Brees.

After a first down, Carlos Polk and Jude Waddy came in on a blitz with ferocity targeting Lemon. Lemon quickly recognized the blitz and threw the ball away with haste to avoid the sack.

McDonald then swung free of his block through a gap in the middle of the line and met Antoineo Harris behind the line. The problem is no one saw him touch Harris and Harris kept running. He got about 15 yards downfield before the play was called dead. McDonald pleaded a little pointing to the spot he had him, but a rookie has no say at this stage of the game. Maybe when they look at tapes of the session he will get some credit for sticking up for himself.

The drive ended at around the 25 on the Lovett catch.

Other Notes:

A few of the linebackers had to do pushups after mental mistakes. Zeke Moreno did just that after missing a pass during an earlier 11-on-11 drill. Donnie Edwards could also be seen doing his penance after a play.

Tim Baker is not winning many points. Running a simple route he never looked back for the ball and it hit him squarely in the back. I don't know if it was a miscommunication but he had to have been open at that time if the ball hit him.

Gilliam was solid yet again. He may not offer the upside some other receivers do but he is steady and reliable. He made a nice catch on a red zone drill over a coach. Gilliam had to go up for the ball and snare it with his hands fully outstretched. He ended up on his back with the ball in hand.

On a pitch out to Harris going to the left Matt Wilhelm saw the play develop in his mind before the ball was snapped and was quick as a cat cutting through a failed attempt at sealing the outside by Alex Tuttle. Wilhelm quickly corralled Harris five yards behind the line.

On two consecutive plays with no pass rush in 7-on-7 drills the secondary coverage was unreal. One play saw Drew Brees roll out to his right looking through his progressions and when no one was open he ran back to his left to try and draw someone open. In total, he had the ball for over 10 seconds waiting for an opening before finally firing the ball. Despite his 10 seconds, Ryan McNeil stayed with his man the whole way and knocked the pass away cleanly.

Brees would roll right again after leaving the pocket with no one open. As he made it out right and reset his feet he finally got rid of the ball to Reche Caldwell who hauled it in. Both plays would have resulted in a coverage sack, something seldom seen in San Diego last season.

Special Teams Drill:

The most impressive return had to be by Drayton Florence. Florence waited patiently for the kick but was 10 yards from where it was set to land. At the last second Florence sprang into action and caught the ball flush with a full head of steam. He easily whipped past the first two flankers bearing down on him and looked as fluid as he has been in coverage.

What did the coverage teams look like? Here are two separate units that saw action:

First unit: Mike Scifres kicking with Jesse Chatman, Jude Waddy, Carlos Polk, Quentin Jammer, Joey Goodspeed, Moreno, McDonald, Norman, Caldwell and Harris.

Second unit: Mackenzie Hoambrecker kicking with Harris and McDonald the only returnees to the unit and Tay Cody, Justin Peelle, Jordan Kramer, Stephen Cooper, Cedric Henry Kwamie Lassiter, Terrence Kiel, and Gilliam.

Only five guys were blocking against the units and they had blocking pads in hand. Sump returned three different kicks and used a huge block by Tim Love, Kris Dielman and Otis Leverette to spring through untouched as some players left their lanes of coverage. Sump also had to play gopher boy on two different poor kicks that resulted in Sump fielding the ball at the 20 one time towards the left sidelines and another time towards the left sidelines again at about the 15. He caught both on a fly and looked to use his speed to cut diagonally across the field and use his blockers camped in the middle. Unfortunately, he was too fast for his own good and could not gain footing to make the cut. He slipped to the ground and quickly tried to bounce back up before he was touched but to no avail. A case of trying to do a little too much.

Nick Maddox also got a chance or two to return and went up the right sidelines before getting pushed out. His kicks were right to the intended spot, the center of the field.

As I said I still have even more notes that will filter out and recap the last three weeks saying who you should keep an eye on when the pads go on and who likely will not even make it to the pads work.

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Denis Savage can be reached at or via the following link: Denis Savage

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