It was like Christmas morning today to many of the players at Chargers camp.
The team held its first padded practice of the 2015 campaign, ramping up the speed, intensity and physicality of the pre-season.
"Coach said you're either going to pick up your game or not," running back Melvin Gordon said after practice. "The real players are gonna show. I'm trying to show them what I got and show them why they drafted me."
Wearing the pads excited the players, but also reminded them that the season is right around the corner.
"We had a little no-huddle period where we went nine plays in a row," cornerback Craig Mager said. "People got a little winded. It definitely felt more real. People were coming downhill, getting some pops. It felt great."
Veteran Jacoby Jones remembers first putting on the pads as a rookie.
"I'm old school," Jones said. "I came in '07. It was two-a-day pads. The first time I put on pads, it was like 'Pow!'
"I was like, 'Whew! Is this what I signed up for?'" he added, laughing.
Saturday's session was a spirited one, higlighted by another pass break-up by cornerback Jason Verrett (he had one yesterday, too) and some impressive catches by the wide receivers.
The defense continues to bring an attitude.
"I think what we're trying to do is just build this culture around here, that whenever we step on the field we're going to dominate," linebacker Manti Te'osaid. "It started today with the pads and will hopefully carry on through training camp."
Practice today was open to the public, with more than 2,000 attendees at Chargers Park. Sunday's practice is open as well.