Training camp: Saturday-the big man cometh

In a welcomed sight, offensive lineman Toniu Fonoti returned to his offensive line mates on Saturday, the second day of San Diego Chargers training camp. Fonoti, who missed Friday's practice, took snaps with the second team at left guard. "It was good,"Fonoti said of his first practice. "It's nice to be back. It's good just to be working with the guys again, so I feel real good."

Nose-tackle Jason Fisk matched up with Fonoti on a few occasions. "It's great to have him back," he said of Fonoti. "He's a big man. He gets into you and you're not moving him back. He's taking you the other way usually. You gotta be perfect on him or he'll get you. He's good."

Starting nose-tackle Jamal Williams walked up to Fonoti before stretches commenced. He gently tapped Fonoti, as if to say: "Welcome back, big fella."

Fonoti looked to be in outstanding condition. Much has been made about his weight, but he didn't show up to camp looking cumbersome. Fonoti is a real-life giant, with a huge frame and bulking mass, so he could easily weigh in excess of his playing weight of 350 pounds while still being in excellent physical condition.

Fonoti spent most of the offseason away from the Chargers' facility, but said he didn't feel rusty in his first practice. He started at right guard during his rookie season in 2002, but last training camp the Chargers moved him to left guard, which is where he looks to gain a starting role this season. "It's the same thing," Fonoti responded when asked about playing the left side.

Second year wide receiver Kassim Osgood was also happy that Fonoti is back. "Fono-teasy! Yeah, he's back. I'm excited to see him back," said Osgood. "He's in shape and he's a vital part to our O-line, so I'm just glad to have him back." Osgood acknowledged the team has taken in him in, knowing how difficult the last year has been for Fonoti. "Everybody loves the hell out of him. He's one of the guys we take care of."

On one play, during eleven-on-eleven drills, Fonoti blocked his initial assignment, then peeled off to keep another defender in check, which drew mighty praise from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron: "Toniu, outstanding job! Outstanding!"

On his next play, Fontoti didn't fare so well, as he was late pulling to his right. When the play was over he smacked his hands together, acknowledging his mistake. Line coach Hudson Houck then came over for a quick consultation. Fonoti responded with some good blocks, using his large frame, brute strength, and fierce aggressiveness to hassle defenders the rest of practice.

Fonoti's first step, though a day late, was a positive one. If he can continue throughout camp and preseason he may just find himself in a familiar position as a starting offensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers. And in turn, bring a big smile to Ladainian Tomlinson and Charger fans.

Lightning Quicks

-Randall Godfrey ran with the first team defense in place of Zeke Moreno.
-Ditto Jerry Wilson in place of Kwamie Lassiter.
-Donnie Edwards was on hand, but clearly disappointed to be on the outside looking in.
-Rookie fullback Travis Wilson has been held out of the first two practices. The reason has not been confirmed. Wilson passes the eyeball test. An impressive looking lead-blocker.
-Courtney Van Buren has switched jerseys to #71, Roman Oben wears his old #72.
-Andrew Pinnock has switched to #34.
-Malcolm Floyd finally dropped a pass.
-Eric Parker continues to be a force.
-Drew Brees, Doug Flutie, and Cleo Lemon were all pretty crisp today.
-Mike Scifres found his rhythm, and boomed about five-in-a-row.
-Antonio Gates continues to make plays.

Will Mortensen can be reached at will@sandiegosports.net

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