Chargers training camp: FanFest 2004

The San Diego Chargers held their annual FanFest at their Home Depot training facility in Carson. More than 3,000 people attended the event to get autographs and cheer on their favorite players. In turn, the players were overjoyed to see the showing of support. The play on the field, unfortunately, did not warrant much applause on the day as the team looked flat.

As usual, the line to get a LaDainian Tomlinson autograph was beyond anything one can imagine. He threw a wrinkle, usually saved for Sunday's, when he left his cozy chair and went out to sign autographs for the fans near the back of the line. Unlike the rest of the players who also moved up and down the line of eager fans, Tomlinson had his obedient staff to hold an umbrella over his majesty as he signed autographs along the line.

When the bell rang to begin practice, many eager fans were left holding their LT jerseys.

Practice got off to its usual slow, deliberate pace with each unit breaking off with their respective coaches. For fans braving the sun and traffic, it seemed slower than normal.

Field goal kicking took place on the big field inside the track – the only field they used on the day as they practiced on a different field than normal training camp occurs.

Each player took eight leg swipes. Here are the results:

Nate Kaeding Mackenzie Hoambrecker
30- Made 30- Made
32- Made 33-Wide right
38- Wide right 40- Made
40- Wide right 43- Wide left
43- Made 43- Wide right
44- Made 45- Made
46- Made 48- Made
48- Made 48- Hit right upright, missed


There was one fake punt when Mike Scifres, the holder for each kicker, took a snap and looked right for a receiver. He found Ryan Krause near the sideline but could not connect with the rookie tight end, throwing the ball a tad high.

The action hit a new level when they lined up for 9-on-9 drills. Each quarterback got a few reps before they went back for another run at field goal drills. But before the first snap, an offsides penalty was called on the defense and quickly wiped away by a false start on the offense. The prequel to both calls was Marty Schottenheimer stopping the play when he thought the defense jumped. The line judge, helped out by Donnie Edwards, told the coach that they did not jump.

Brees hit Tim Dwight on a crossing route as Stephen Cooper got caught trying to cover the fleet-footed receiver. Sammy Davis lent support but neither could match the elusiveness of Dwight who performed better than any other receiver on Saturday.

Brees also targeted Antonio Gates on an inside slant. Gates went into motion and turned his slant in about ten yards upfield. Brees hit him in stride and Gates made a nifty move to leave his defenders behind.

Brees also misfired on a few of his passes and elected to dump off a few more.

Cleo Lemon came out of the gates by hitting Michael Turner coming out of the backfield on a slant style play – one that LaDainian Tomlinson scored a touchdown on in 2003. Turner caught the ball but was brought down and never got the ball to the official as it slipped out of his hands.

Marty Schottenheimer followed Turner back to the offensive side of the field – not pleased at all.

Lemon also got to play with Dwight and hit him on a comeback route towards the sideline. Dwight ran a perfect route, leaving both Vernon Fox and Jamar Fletcher in the dust.

"I was hoping fans would show up and thank you for coming out and supporting us," Dwight said. "It was good to see people being interested in what we were doing."

Newly acquired Joe Germaine hit Wes Welker to open his day. Welker was held up by Fletcher (who coincidentally got flagged by the referee for defensive holding) on the play but was still able to get into his route and catch the ball. Fletcher showed some spirit by spinning Welker around like a top after the catch.

Germaine went deep on his next play which drew praise from the crowd. He hit Ruvell Martin across the middle of the field, throwing the ball up for the big man to grab. Martin climbed the ladder in front of Vernon Fox and came away with the reception. Germaine has shown some zip on his passes since joining the Chargers. He tried to hit Martin later in the same drill but misfired high and wide. Fletcher was all over Martin on the play.

Germaine then made a quick dumpoff to Calvin Murray who was quickly met by anticipating linebacker Ben Leber. Leber had a good day covering backs and tight ends.

Here are the results from the second field goal drill:

Kaeding Hoambrecker
29- Made 29- Made
31- Wide right 31-Wide right
31- Made 32- Made
Fake 33- Made
33- Made 33- Made
38- Made (16 seconds) 38- Made (16 seconds)


The (16 seconds) was a timed field goal attempt where the kicking team lined up on the sidelines and had to rush out on the field and kick the ball within the 16 seconds.

The second fake of the day came when Scifres took the ball around the right end on a running play to gain a few yards. The big punter will be tough for linebackers to bring down.

"I don't weigh 230 for nothing," a laughing Scifres said. "I have to throw my weight around sometime."

Of all the attempts, only one snap from David Binn went awry. He bounced one to Scifres who put it down but the kick was missed.

The biggest difference between Hoambrecker and Kaeding is lift. Hoambrecker's kicks come out like a bullet and don't have much lift. Kaeding's catapult out, immediately getting lift and stay high through the uprights.

More updates from Saturday's FanFest will be available on Sunday – a day off for the Chargers. Included will be one-on-one drills and more battles between receivers and defensive backs.

Lightning quicks:

Drayton Florence struggled for one of the first time in camp. He was blazed by a variety of receivers and susceptible to routes that broke off and came back towards the quarterback.

A tipped ball bounced around a few defenders hands in seven-on-seven drills with Jamar Fletcher having the best chance at an interception. Unfortunately, no one came down with the ball.

Kevin Dyson was held out of practice with a strained groin. He called his absence precautionary.

Travis Wilson and Kevin House are both nursing mild injuries but took part in several drills to help their teammates out. They were not dressed in full pads.

Grant Mattos continues to make fans take notice. He has sure hands and good route running skills. After practice, several fans were applauding his play.

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips picked off a tipped pass during red zone drill walkthroughs and took a knee after securing the ball.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@Sandiegosports.net

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