Rumor Central: A Numbers Game

When the season concluded, the San Diego Chargers sought to dramatically improve a pass defense that was ranked last in the NFL during the 2002 season. Focusing on athleticism and speed, A.J Smith selected three defensive backs within the first two rounds of the NFL draft in April and supplemented those selections by adding veteran Kwamie Lassiter to the defensive backfield picture.

With the recent release of starting safety Rogers Beckett, San Diego heads into training camp having released both starting safeties from the 2002 roster. To make matters worse in San Diego, the purge in the defensive backfield may not be complete, The Insiders has learned.

Cornerback Tay Cody and veteran Ryan McNeil, a cornerback turned safety this offseason appear to be fighting to retain their spots with the Chargers. Seeking increased athleticism in the defensive backfield, San Diego is banking on the youth and talent being amassed by Smith and head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

"We have taken a proactive approach to the situation that we have in the defensive backfield. Some of the guys that we played with in 2002 will not be here this season, you see that with some of the moves we have made through the draft and in free agency," a team source said. "Some of what we believe had to be changed was the attitude and type of players we have here. Getting what we believe will be three outstanding defensive players for us, we are going into training camp ready to see what these guys can do and see if they are ready to contribute right away."

The Chargers have not hid the fact or notion that the organization was not satisfied with the performance of their defensive backs last season. Throughout the disappointment, the organization sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

"We have talked to a few teams about players, we do that quite often, so any discussion shouldn't come as much of a surprise. When you have the opportunity to select a cover cornerback in the first round, he is expected to contribute early on, which we believe Sammy Davis will do. He is very smooth in practice, he has a lot to learn but the tools are there. Teaming him with (Quentin) Jammer should significantly improve our cover lapses. Adding a veteran like Lassiter is something we needed to do to provide leadership and a presence."

"If I was a starting player in our defensive secondary last season, I would know that there was much work to do and we may have a numbers problem before all is said and done. We'll see though."


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