Chargers training camp: Special teams

On Friday afternoon, the San Diego Chargers went through a lazy practice. Unlike earlier in the week, this time it was on purpose. After a long week filled with two-a-days, the Chargers spent the bulk of team activity working on special teams. Luke Powell and Wes Welker would argue that this practice was anything but lazy.

With FanFest coming on Saturday, the afternoon spa session was a welcome sight for the players. They had been going hard all week – one-one drills with line against line, receiver versus cornerback and everything in between.

With the morning session hotter than eggs in a frying pan, the afternoon temperature was pleasant, matching the demeanor on the field.

After individual coaching sessions ran their course, the team met up on the big field for a full session of special teams.

Wes Welker and Luke Powell were called to duty after the walking wounded trio had held serve over the course of the last few days.

Powell got first chair. The first punt dropped a few yards in front of him with Powell electing to field it on the hop. He corralled it and ran up the field. Marty Schottenheimer quickly pounced on the youngster, asking him questions regarding the rules of the game. Schottenheimer clearly was upset that he did not field it on the fly.

Welker had a chance to play spoiler amongst the rookie contingency. Welker got under the ball but could not haul it in as it passed though his fingers and touched turf. Welker did his best boot camp impression when he laid out and crawled after the rock while the barbed wire defenders swarmed. Welker wrapped it up but the damage was done.

Both traded successful returns before the team moved on to kickoff drills. Welker and Powell were joined by Tim Dwight and Drayton Florence. Dwight caught all the balls sent his way after muffing two in the morning on punt return duties.

Welker got the first go in kickoff return duties and looked scared attempting to catch a strike off the leg of Mike Scifres that was earmarked for the three yard line. Welker again let it drop but quickly recovered.

The reason he was scared was because the sun was in his eyes and he thought his head was going to be taken off, cringing back as the ball arrived.

"Every opportunity I get a chance to make a play, I want to take full advantage of that opportunity," Welker said.

Powell got another one hopper on kick return duties and the ball tipped off his fingertips as he jumped to secure it but his 5-foot-8 frame would not allow him to climb the ladder any higher.

"Securing the ball and making a big play," Powell said of his adventurous day when asked the key to returning kicks. "A lot of it is just having faith in your teammates and having faith in your own abilities."

Florence showed his tremendous speed when he got the ball. With his vision impaired it was unclear whether he would be able to even get his hands down in time from shielding his eyes.

Scifres and Nate Kaeding handled kickoff duties with both performing well. Every kick except one from Kaeding landed inside the three yard line. The bullet from Kaeding that did not meet its goal ended up over the head of Powell as described above.

Of course maybe it wasn't just a lazy practice but rather the team working on something it expected to be doing a lot – punting and receiving kickoffs.

En-lightning news:

Coach James Lofton to Kassim Osgood after he ran a bad route, "We don't have no banana routes!" Lofton made Osgood run the route again and acknowledged it was much better the second time around.

The afternoon practice session ended when Kaeding and McKenzie Hoambrecker traded field goal attempts. On this day Kaeding was king. He nailed most of his kicks from different hash marks. Hoambrecker was not as lucky, pulling a few wide left. The team crowded around and cheered, hissed and essentially made themselves an annoyance during the second half of their kicks.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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