Chargers Fan Fest: Marty Talk

Marty was animated during the team warm-ups. He was speaking with AJ Smith and seemed irritated with something. The two spent the entire stretch session talking. Usually, Marty is in the ear of everyone, walking the beat to encourage his players to have a great practice. Not today.

One irritating thing about FanFest was the music constantly blaring out of the speakers. The whole joy of camp, especially on FanFest, is communicating with the players and hearing not only the coaches' remarks, but the players congratulating each other for a job well done.

Not hearing "Charger! Charger!" from the defense calling out assignments detached the fans from the play. Even worse was not hearing the creations of Marcellus Wiley during the stretching session. Normally when there is a big crowd, Wiley is in rare form. By playing the non-stop music, the Chargers effectively took the whole concept of FanFest and buried it.

The result was noticeable as rarely did the fans scream out at their players, or even offer applause. A crowd of roughly 3,500 could have erupted with cheers had they been able.

Alas it was the quietest gathering of 3,500 people in the history of Carson.

Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who has spent a lot of time working with the secondary, stayed with them during the 20-25 minutes they were in individual drills. He never glanced in another direction and did not offer applause to anyone until the drill was in its 15th minute. At that point he clapped and said, "Good job" to Drayton Florence. The secondary were running drills with their backs to the coach and running to the left hard as if they were in pursuit of a receiver. The Coach would call, "ball" when he threw the ball and the defensive backs finally got a chance to look back at the "quarterback" and make a play on the ball. Florence was one of the few to field the ball cleanly for an "interception'. Florence had great hands all day. Anything close to him, he catches. It does not matter if it is deflected before it gets to him or not.

Florence kept up his aggressive attitude today. He bumps every receiver at the line and throws off any timing a receiver has with his quarterback. Also, anyone who gets near him gets some contact. He does not knock anyone down but will smack pads with them and let them know he could take them down at any time he chooses. Florence took exception to a nice block by Tim Baker later in practice and pushed Baker after the play before walking away. When he is on the field he gives you the impression that it is his field and his rules.

.Kevin House would also get some praise for his work during the individual drills.

House in fact had the best catch of the day during individual drills. Looking at the crowd while simulating following a crossing route, the Coach called "Ball!" and House looked to see the ball delivered way behind him. He reached with one hand, looking awkward with his body unnaturally contorted to haul in the errant pass. Great reaction and awareness to catch that ball.

Marty spent a lot of time talking with Hanik Milligan. Not that Milligan had a terrible session, but Marty was making it clear his hand positioning when trying to intercept a ball was not quite right.

Cedric Wilson also got the attention of Marty when he missed a ball. Marty pointed out his wrongs and went through the motions of correct technique and hand placement to catch or deflect a pass like Wilson encountered.

One of the sloppier moments for the defensive backs came when they would simulate coverage against their fellow DBs. Standing at the ready to cover the route runners, the coach would tell the route runners where to run and what to do (the defenders could not see their coach). The secondary would then do their best to rotate their coverage to stay with a man who breaks certain ways. Communication in the secondary being key here, the unit faltered. Several times two DBs would follow one route runner and leave another open underneath, or near the sideline, or just about anywhere.

Marty became very vocal at this and worked closely to make sure people realized their assignments. Defensive Backs Coach Jerry Holmes also got worked up and was helping the unit. Marty deferred a lot of his authority to Coach Holmes, listening and adding any thoughts he had.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@netzero.net

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