Philip Rivers threw a career-high 20 interceptions and lost five fumbles as the Chargers let another year slip away in 2011. Those 25 turnovers - many coming in a killer, mid-season, six-game losing streak - were among the reasons the playoffs were held without the Chargers for the second straight year.
"I think you can over-analyze it as a player of what we did good or bad," Rivers said. "And it's usually not as bad or as good as it seems."
True, while Rivers put up some ugly numbers, he also fired 27 touchdown passes and collected 4,624 yards through the air. It marked the fourth consecutive year Rivers surpassed the 4,000-yard standard.
But what sticks in his craw is his inability to consistently secure the football, and that 8-8 Chargers record which cemented their decline into mediocrity.
"That year is gone but I think you grow from it," Rivers said. "I think personally I'm going to be better from it, coming through a rough stretch and having to deal with some picks that in the past I stayed away from."
Rivers is a film-room regular, so he closely reviewed each and every one of his mistakes. But Rivers is always so upbeat and positive, that last year isn't getting him down. Instead, it is fueling the fire to get the Chargers back in the Super Bowl conversation.
"We haven't been in the postseason in two years, so every word you can use to describe that, we are: hungry, eager and everything else.
"Hey I hate to lose. We want to win a championship here and we're going to fight like crazy to do that."
That opportunity could have presented itself last year. Now this year the Chargers aren't even the favorite to win the AFC West for the first time in recent memory, when most odds-makers predicting the Denver Broncos, behind new QB Peyton Manning, will win the division.
"Obviously you got to go win games," Rivers said. "And I know one thing -- and I don't know if we ever had got caught up in the hype thing. But one thing we know now is that is not going to happen this year. But as far as our expectations, we certainly expect to win."
Ingram glad to be learning from the veterans
--First-round pick Melvin Ingram passes the eye test in shorts and a jersey. But the outside linebacker has also been all ears with the experienced players joining the offseason workouts.
"You have to take advantage of every moment you get with the veterans," Ingram said. "Guys like Shaun Phillips and Takeo Spikes are great teachers, and you learn little things just by watching them play. I still have a lot to learn, but I've already taken something from them."
If Ingram is going to make a mistake, it will be at full tilt.
"Whether I know exactly what to do on a given play or not, I always play at full speed," he said. "I give maximum effort every day, and I believe that'll help me get the system down."
--After sitting out drills earlier in the week with a groin ailment, oft-injured outside linebacker Larry English returned to practice. The Chargers, who have displayed much patience with this former first-round pick, are hopeful English's foot problems are finally behind him and he can contribute this season. But there are four other outside linebackers lined up in front of him: Shaun Phillips, Antwan Barnes, Jarret Johnson and Ingram.
--Defensive end Corey Liuget didn't have much of a warm-up to his first NFL season, as last season's offseason was in upheaval because of the labor issues. He was thrust into the starting role anyway, but the 2011 first-round pick is grateful for these spring workouts.
"Nothing beats experience, and playing so much last year has given me great confidence going into 2012," Liuget said. "Not having an offseason last year was difficult. I appreciate all of these OTAs and any opportunity to work and become a better football player."
--The Chargers signed veteran safety Corey Lynch, and some camp help in punter Robert Malone and tackle Phil Trautwein.
--The Chargers' OTA sessions are leading up to minicamp, which will be held June 19-21.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I feel a lot better with a helmet on." - QB Philip Rivers, admitting he was nervous before giving the commencement address to the 2012 graduating class of his alma mater, North Carolina State.
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