Chargers May Mini-Camp

Mini-camp in May is a time for rejoicing. It is a time for the fruits of four months of labor to come together and actually put some work in – on the field. The San Diego Chargers have assembled their newest cast of misfits and they are looking to cast a new line. Instead of the Piranhas that usually tear this team apart, they are working on forming a happy school that will swim together towards the common goal – winning.

The taskmaster is Marty Schottenheimer and his lessons are many:
• Learn the playbook
• Teamwork
• Come prepared to practice
• Ask questions
• Give it your all

The weekend's assembly is a chance for the staff to start fitting the pieces together for the upcoming season.

Players are rounded up and the first look is an important factor in determining how to best utilize a particular player.

On offense the blood will begin to boil as veteran quarterbacks Drew Brees and Doug Flutie get pushed out of the way for a first look at Philip Rivers, the heir apparent.

"I am excited to be here in San Diego," Rivers said. "It is as beautiful as they said it was."

It will be interesting to see the dynamics between the three quarterbacks and it could determine who, between Flutie and Brees, is with the team when the bell rings in September. The rapport on the field between the parties was well preserved, but at house de Brees things are surely stirring.

Then there is the presence of Igor Olshansky, a toy for new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to use on the line. Olshansky will line up at end in the new 3-4 system and use his power to stop the run, something he revels in.

"It was a surprise, but a pleasant surprise," Olshansky said of coming to San Diego. "My parents are out here in California so I get to stay close."

And Olshansky is ready to make the plunge into the NFL. He thinks the transition will be a smooth one.

"I went from having 18 tackles my freshman year to having 70 tackles my sophomore year," Olshansky said. "I consider myself someone that has a high learning curve and I am hungry for information."

Then the addition to the kicking game with Nate Kaeding should add a new dynamic to the team. No longer will Schottenheimer have to fret over whether to kick that 48 yarder. Mr. Automatic is on the job.

And Kaeding knew San Diego was a hot spot for him. He is just glad the Chargers had him in their sights.

"I didn't really do a whole of scouting per say," Kaeding said of his knowledge on who would take him. "Just some teams I knew that were after spots and the kind of need there was. We need going into the draft that I would end up in one of three or four places. Just so happened to be the team at the top of my list."

And camp has started, if just for three days. Then come the OTA's and finally training camp. Before too long it will be football season. The irony is football season has never ended.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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