Boom, bust or breakdown for Caldwell

The final casting call for Reche Caldwell could come this year with San Diego. The talented receiver has fallen into the famed Florida receiver wagon - busts in the NFL. Last year, Caldwell was exoricising those demons until an injury befell him and he ended up on injured reserve. Now, in the final year of his contract it is time to play backyard football and get dirty. It is the only way he can prove his health, his heart and his desire to be more than "just another Florida receiver."

Chargers receiver Reche Caldwell knows it's a big year for him, the team and his future.

Caldwell, a former second-round pick, has a contract which expires after the 2005 season. He also has a rebuilt left knee, the result of tearing his ACL last October in the Georgia Dome.

What started as a peach of a 2004 season ended up being the pits as Caldwell landed on IR in late October and is just now back to running routes.

"I can do everything that I need to do," Caldwell said. "I just can't do it as fast as I want to."

The speed will come, Caldwell swears. He anticipates his knee is at 90 percent, and will be at 100 percent by the time training camp rolls around.

The Chargers have been enthralled with his skills for years - it is what precipitated his selection in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft.

After two disappointing seasons, he showed flashes of his skills last year which made him a topnotch receiver at Florida.

Before going down against the Falcons, Caldwell caught 18 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

"I started off strong last year, then I tore my knee up," Caldwell said. "Now I have to try and do it all over again and put up the numbers and put up a good season this year."

He's in the right spot -- his cranky knee willing.

While the Chargers are loaded at most their offensive positions, there's some raised eyebrows about their receiving corps -- a unit which was among the few not having a wide out with 50 catches last year.

Keenan McCardell is on board for a full season, but he's also 35 years old. Eric Parker hopes to build on his first season, but he's also 6-feet and 180 pounds. Tim Dwight is history, and it's doubtful the likes of Kassim Osgood, Malcom Floyd and rookie Vincent Jackson keep defensive coordinators awake at night.

So Caldwell, if he can rebound, is in the right place for a bounce-back year. And he's going to approach it as if last year's injury never happened.

"I feel like if I'm going to get hurt again, I'm going to do it by going at full speed," Caldwell said. "I'll just go out and do it and don't think about (the knee). Whatever happens, happens."

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