SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER:
Chargers head coach Mike McCoy cancelled the final day of a three-day minicamp, saying that the team had “done an outstanding job in the offseason program.” Thursday, the rookies will hold a walkthrough before the practice field goes dark for six weeks.
Players have been involved in voluntary workouts since mid-April. McCoy cancelled the final day of minicamp last year as well.
FLUKER FEELING GOOD
Offensive lineman D.J. Fluker worked at guard a few practices this minicamp. That’s not totally unusual, as offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris moves all of his guys around quite a bit … But, it’s something to keep an eye on in training camp to see if it becomes a long-term experiment.
“Whatever will help the team win, that’s all that matters to me,” Fluker said. “I’m comfortable anywhere. Put me at receiver, I’m going to be good at that too.“
Fluker said he had a “depressing moment” last season as he worked to play through a nagging ankle injury.
“Playing hurt, it happens,” he said. “But you gotta push through it and keep on fighting. Gotta have a little heart to you. If you don’t have heart, you can’t play this game. This year, I’m healthy and I’m going to play my tail off.”
ATTAOCHU READY TO ATTACK
With veteran linebackers Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson gone, it’s on younger players like Jerry Attaochu, Manti Te’o and Melvin Ingram to step up. Like other second-year players, Attaochu feels much more comfortable headed into this season than last. He’s been more vocal on the field too, despite being a younger player.
“You have to be,” he said. “You’ve got to communicate on the field. It’s not about age, it’s about going out there and getting a job done.”
As for those old guys, Freeney and Johnson?
“We miss them,” he said, laughing. “We miss being able to tease them for being old. But, a lot of the stuff they did has definitely rubbed off. Their demeanor, their approach to the game. I see it in how we take things personal and serious.”
FOCUSING ON CENTER
This minicamp is a lot of different than last year for Chris Watt.
For one thing, he’s keeping his focus centered.
“Last year, I was trying to learn all three interior positions, and it’s always good to know all three, but really focusing on the center position this offseason was big,” Watt said. “Also, this year we had a few more weeks before the rookies even got here. So that’s more time to get with the guys on the O-Line and build the camaraderie amongst the group.”
Watt made five starts last season before a Week 16 ankle injury ended his season. He was one of five – (five!) – different players to start at center in 2014. The third-round draft pick from Notre Dame joined the Chargers as a guard; in fact, he had never played center in a game prior to last season. His maturity and growth from last season to now is noticeable, particularly to his quarterback Philip Rivers.
“It’s awesome to see,” Rivers said. “He’s just got a different presence about him. He was still trying to figure it all out last year.
“He just has a little bit of an aura of ‘I belong here’ now.”
SDSuperChargers.com beat writer Annie Heilbrunn has been covering the Chargers since 2009. You can follow her on Twitter at @annieheilbrunn or email her at email@example.com.