Chargers training camp: The Specimen vs. The Giant

The San Diego Chargers' first practice on Monday was highlighted by another one-on-one session between rookie defensive-end Igor Olshansky and third-year guard Toniu Fonoti. The two faced off in pass-rush drills as fans eagerly anticipated the outcome of another battle between ‘the Specimen' and ‘the Giant'. On the first go-round, the 6-foot-6 Olshansky burst off the line-of scrimmage with an outside move, only to find....

... the 350- pound Toniu Fonoti waiting for him. Fonoti got into his pass-set quickly, mirroring his opponent. The two initiated contact, or more accurately, a collision. Olshansky stuck with his initial move, to the outside, but Fonoti was all over it. The big Samoan used his watermelon-sized arms to slap Igor Olshansky to the ground in a manhandling that was similar to a battle that took place on Sunday.

"Quite well," Marty Schottenheimer said when summarizing the play of Fonoti thus far in camp.

After the play was over, ‘the Specimen' bounced up like it was nothing and went back determined to win the next one. The chance would come immediately.

Olshansky started the next play like the previous one, with an outside move. Fonoti started to his left to mirror Olshansky. But a surprise came. With a quick spin move, Olshansky took the inside catching Fonoti by surprise and leaving ‘the Giant' off balance. By the time Fonoti slid back to his right, it was too late. ‘The Specimen' got away for a phantom sack.

Fonoti was furious over his defeat, smashing his paws together in obvious disappointment. He later would get his shot at redemption.

The battles between ‘the Giant' and ‘the Specimen' on the practice fields of Chargers' training camp are shaping up to be something to watch. Training camp is free to fans, but even if it weren't, ‘the Specimen' vs. ‘the Giant' would be worth the ticket.

At one point during one-on-one passing drills between running backs and linebackers, head coach Marty Schottenheimer had to ask Zeke Moreno if he paid for a ticket to get into practice. Running back Jesse Chatman beat Moreno with some nifty moves to get open. He hauled in the pass from Drew Brees and took it to the sideline. Moreno caught up to Chatman and tried to poke the ball out. The two shared a friendly laugh all the way down the sideline.

While jogging back towards his teammates, Moreno was chastised by Schottenheimer who jokingly said; "Hey Zeke, did you pay for a ticket to get in here today?" Moreno laughed, then responded: "I don't think anybody did." Moreno then looked towards a group of fans and jokingly asked: "Did ya'll pay to get in here?" The crowd erupted with laughter.

During nine-on-nine run drills, Olshansky lined up with Jamal Williams and Otis Leverette on the first team defense. On one play Olshansky showed his upper-body strength as he tossed his opponent to the ground like a rag-doll, then tagged the ball-carrier before he could get through the hole.

Lightning Quicks

-During kick-offs, Nate Kaeding, Mike Scifres, and Mackenzie Hoambrecker averaged a placement of about the nine yard line. The emphasis was on hang-time. Scifres showed the most leg, Kaeding was consistent while Hoambrecker struggled with distance. Tim Dwight, Drayton Florence, and Michael Turner worked as kick-returners.

-In a one-on-one battle with stout rookie nose-tackle Ryon Bingham, center Nick Hardwick again showed why the Chargers drafted him in the third round. Hardwick showed tremendous hand-quickness and a tenacious display of aggressiveness while beating Bingham on two consecutive one-on-ones.

-Ben Leber looked good turning the corner in his one-on-ones.

-Ditto Steve Foley.

-Guard Mike Goff bested nose-tackle Jamal Williams only to get beaten badly by Williams on the next play. Out of frustration Goff let out a four letter expletive.

-Kris Dielman won three of his one-on-ones. End Dequincy Scott beat him on one play, but Dielman responded by pummeling him on the next.

-Drew Brees connected with Eric Parker on a bomb during team drills.

-Fonoti continues to hammer defenders in team drills. When he gets position...it's just not fair. It may just be a matter of time before Fonoti runs with the first team, but Dielman has been steady.

-Phil Bogle bested Otis Leverette twice in one-on-ones.

-Tight end Ryan Prince was released by the team on Monday.

Will Mortensen can be reached at will@sandiegosports.net

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