Chargers camp wraps up

The San Diego Chargers wrapped up their three-day minicamp Sunday with a morning practice, their fifth of the weekend.<br><br> What did the Bolts get out of this weekend's practices?

The Chargers first taste of camp was filled with strife.

  • A portly Toniu Fonoti showed up to camp. The rumors had been that Fonoti had teamed up with new guard Mike Goff on a workout program. At 388 pounds, the truth is out. The fire he had at the end of the season regarding going on injured reserve turned into an eating binge.

  • Jason Ball missed the mandatory camp and will likely be fined $7,000 for his efforts. Ball is scheduled to make $370K this season as the Chargers tendered him the minimum as an exclusive rights free agent. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent and has become a solid member of the offensive line. This will likely be worked out before camp as he is a valuable member of the squad and if he is to be the starting center, it is vitally important to have him snapping to Philip Rivers.

  • Change is coming.

    Marty Schottenheimer has vowed change and many veterans have commented that there is a different feel to camp. Schottenheimer has already outlawed cell phones in meeting rooms and the locker rooms. Food is no longer allowed in the meeting rooms. He wants everyone to concentrate on the task at hand.

    "When you go 4-12, you better change," Schottenheimer said. "And we are changing a lot of things around here. The way it has been done in the past hasn't worked, and we are going to change whatever we have to change."

    Veterans say everyone seems more focused this year. As opposed to Giants camp on the east coast which is filled with players complaining about their workload, the Chargers players welcome the work and the feeling is they don't like being 4-12 and will do what they can to make sure it does not happen again.

    Other things that will likely change is the practice times before training camp. Previously they went out at 10 AM for OTA's, but Schottenheimer wants to move it back to get more classroom instruction in early. It is something he has done in the past and will likely be instituted this offseason.

  • Fans learned not to make fun of Eli Manning and his struggles until word comes out on how Philip Rivers did.

    Rivers, as with any rookie in their first taste of camp, had his struggles. He stood up and took his beatings like a man and never shook his head in disgust. Instead he got right back under center to do it again.

  • Drew Brees may be slightly misguided. He still thinks he is the starter when the likelihood of that happening seems less and less.

    "I still feel like this is my team and I'm the starting quarterback of this team and it's my job to take us to the promised land," Brees proclaimed.

    Marty Schottenheimer and AJ Smith know that if they want to extend the life of their contracts it will have to be with Rivers under center. Does anyone see another free pass coming? It looks to be in the cards.

  • Undrafted free agents, once a staple of any Charger team, will have a tougher time making the roster.

    The team had eleven draft picks in '04 and the second and third year players are starting to click. Very few spots remain open. Of the group of 18 brought in, the positions with the best chance are one among the wide receiver group, one special teamer – perhaps a return man, and one offensive lineman.

    The rest will have to go to the expanded practice squad. Certainly a linebacker will be among them as will another receiver and various other positions will fill the rest.

  • Denis Savage can be reached at

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