From someone who knows when Philip Rivers said, "You only get one first impression."
"It's disappointing," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "History would indicate in our business the effect of your absence isn't by addition, it's also by multiplication. One day missed, two days missed, all of the sudden you find yourself where you can't really catch up. This is the ideal time for individual coaching. There is not the pressure of the games. There is no cutdowns. Coaches can devote more time to a player from now until training camp."
Rivers missed most of training camp last year and lost out on a shot at the starting quarterback job. Merriman's case is not that deep just yet but his agent, Kevin Poston, is known to take hard stances in negotiations.
"The veterans carried the load today," he admitted. He did mention it would be clearer later in the afternoon.
One veteran he praised, Sammy Davis. "Sammy pitched a no-hitter out there. I was very impressed."
Davis lost his starting cornerback job to Drayton Florence last season and Florence is the early favorite to hold the starting nod across from Quentin Jammer this year.
"Reche did a nice job," Schottenheimer said.
Each year he shows up looking buff and ready to go and this season is no exception. He began to emerge as a threat last year but injuries assaulted him for the second year in a row.
"He's got a ways to go because he's making a transition from a totally different level of competition. As long as he continues to work each day with a purpose and continues to progress, I am sure he has a chance. Consistency in route running. He was a far superior player to anyone he played against in college, and that won't be the case in the NFL."
"He is a specimen," quarterback Drew Brees added. "He looks like a tight end but has the speed of a receiver."
"Sproles is a quick guy," Brees said. "If we had pads on today, I don't know if anyone would have tackled him."
The coach did not say whether he had the inside track on return duties, even pointing to several other young players who have shown ability in the return game prior to coming to San Diego.
Schottenheimer seemed more excited about the prospects of using Sproles in a variety of roles.
"Our short guy is awfully exciting when you watch him," Schottenheimer said. "There is a lot of quickness and suddenness about him. Some people say he is an effective runner because you can't find him. He is well built and explosive."