"I was a little anxious and uncertain, but I thought it went well," Rivers assessed of his first practice. "The guys welcomed me back. I was a little rusty, but that was to be expected. I've been keeping up the best I could."
It was the debut of rookie quarterback Philip Rivers on Tuesday morning and with it came the decay that goes with not participating with the team since camp began on July 30. The routes look a little deeper than they are. The rapport with receivers turns to an acquaintance.
For a first day on the football field with the team in Carson, it was enough to make fans bristle with pride and feelings of grandeur.
"There was an energy on the field today that I had not seen the last couple of times I have been to practice," Jim Thompson of Chula Vista said.
As the ink dried on his recently signed contract, Rivers was just happy to be back on the playing field. The pace of negotiations clearly took its toll on the young quarterback.
"Glad to be here and doing the part of football I love," Rivers said, hinting at the contract process that stole valuable time from him.
Rivers signed a six year deal, made official in the morning. He was originally expected to make a play for the starting job at quarterback, but the lengthy holdout puts that in jeopardy to begin the season.
His work this week could go a long way towards determining his future. Schottenheimer said that Rivers could play on Friday and the bet here is that it is a certainty that he will get some reps. Marty wants his guy on the field as soon as possible.
Consider the week he had him in the Senior Bowl at practices and how he performed. That is the evidence Schottenheimer wants to see again and at home in front of the non-sellout crowd is a perfect introduction to the NFL game for Rivers.
On the field he had his ups and downs. He has a commanding presence on the field and working with the second team showed some of the things that made him a first round pick. He has an uncanny ability to look off receivers and freeze the defense. The opening day jitters just sailed a few too high.
"I thought it went well," Rivers said. "I made some mistakes like I am going to continue to do."
"The quality that will enable him to develop is that he's extremely bright. But he's going to struggle with the timing and the speed of the pro game," Schottenheimer said.
The remedy is getting him into live game action this week and not holding off another where he would face a more hostile environment in San Francisco.
Rivers needs the reps. He knows it and so does the coaching staff.
"I was excited," Rivers reiterated of his first day back. "Chemistry, camaraderie, all that – you lack, you fall behind."
Rivers, however, is ready to assume the role of a leader. He wants to start with every fiber of his being. The fact is he knows nothing else.
"Being behind, it's gonna be tough but when the time comes I'll be ready," Rivers said. "I am focused on this day and then the next day and look at it one day at a time. When that gets here and the challenge is asked of me, I will be ready."
Denis Savage can be reached at denis@Sandiegosports.net
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