Tuesday afternoon: diabolical defense

The San Diego Chargers took off the pads for Tuesday's afternoon practice. The defense rebounded from the morning's sub par red zone performance with a nice showing during eleven-on-elevens. Cornerback Sammy Davis supplied good coverage on multiple occasions.

Quarterback Drew Brees started the session with two incompletions. The second was a deep pass to a streaking Reche Caldwell who was blanketed by the quick-footed Sammy Davis. The pass was overthrown, but Davis was there anyway.

After the secondary got torched last year for 36 touchdowns, Davis was looking towards the future. "I can't wait to go out and prove that I belong in this league."

Brees came back with a short pass to Kassim Osgood, who had a few catches on the day. The pass was between defenders Davis and linebacker Steve Foley, who drew wrath from linebacker coach Steve Manusky: "Come on Foley! Get it!"

"I'm looking forward to Drew Brees tearing it up," Osgood said of his starting quarterback.

Davis' former A&M buddy Terence Kiel got into the mix by smothering tight end Antonio Gates on the next pass from Brees. Gates landed on the ground with Kiel atop of him as the pass fell incomplete. Kiel got up almost in taunting fashion and refused to help his teammate off the ground. It sent the message that this was a practice for the defense to be diabolical.

Cleo Lemon was welcomed to the mix by a swarming sack from the first team defense. His next play was a handoff to preseason stud Jesse Chatman for a good pick up.

Lemon went after Davis trying to throw for Micah Ross, but Davis was in position once again, and the pass fell incomplete.

Brees looked for Caldwell, who streaked down the sideline with Drayton Florence in coverage, but the pass was too far and it fell incomplete. The next play was more of the same, an incompletion intended for Caldwell.

Brees found luck in the form of the second team defense. He hit an open Osgood for a big gain in the middle of the field. Osgood has dropped a few during drills, but when it's a game situation he always seems to end up with the reception.

Brees next pass was incomplete intended for Gates.

The defensive surge lasted throughout the rest of the scrimmage. Jamar Fletcher almost picked off a Lemon pass intended for Wes Welker. Lemon was then sacked by linebacker Randall Godfrey. Quarterback Joe Germaine's pass was almost picked by the instinctive Stephen Cooper, and the session ended with a Jacque Cesaire sack of Germaine.

Lightning quicks

-It appears that Stephen Cooper is getting a shot at the left inside linebacker spot. He ran with the second team. This could put him in competition with Godfrey and Zeke Moreno for the starting spot opposite Donnie Edwards. Cooper has proved himself quick, instinctive and aggressive in camp.

"I think we will be a real good defense, one of the top defenses in the NFL," Cooper said after being part of the swarming first team defense on Saturday. "We just have to play together."

-Shaun Phillips ran with the second team as the right outside linebacker, which is different from the left side he played against the Colts. The new position would have him rushing a right handed quarterback's blindside more often than not.

-Matt Wilhelm ran second team next to Cooper on the inside. Polk was the other outside backer for the second team.

-Grant Mattos had a beautiful fingertip catch in a three-on-three drill.

-Reche Caldwell had a ball pop right out of his hands and into the hands of Fletcher who caught the interception in the three-on-three drill.

-Doug Flutie was back throwing the football around. He was held out of scrimmages.

-Left tackle Courtney Van Buren easily handled linebacker Shaun Phillips on the times they locked up in scrimmages.

-Jamar Fletcher looks to have the inside track for the fourth corner spot.

-Jerry Wilson and Kwamie Lassiter continue to battle for the starting free safety spot. According to an NFL scout we polled, "Wilson has the edge and started their last game. Lassiter is a shell of what he once was (range has really slowed) and is four years older (turns 35 in December) than Wilson."

Will Mortensen can be reached at will@sandiegosports.net

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