Chargers minicamp: Day one

The San Diego Chargers went through their first two minicamp practices on Friday and will complete five by the end of the weekend. The assimilation back on the field has a definite caveat, a live crowd that is expected to swell through the weekend after a 12-4 season.

"We have been watching them set the bleachers up for two weeks," quarterback Drew Brees said. "We are amped up."

And the quarterback should be. He is smiling a lot more at the start of the year and his mood is one filled with laughs instead of defensive cries.

Brees led the Chargers new passing attack, throwing 27 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions. He was reborn in his contract year and now has a one-year franchise deal to prove it wasn't just another rendition of ‘Funkytown', the sole hit for Lipps, Inc.

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson was also on the field, playing the role of mentor for the rookies who will be getting most of the snaps.

Tomlinson, too, was full of smiles. He was eager to see the crowd on the weekend and more eager to see the offense immersed in the playbook and perfecting the work they have put on in the classroom.

"It has been a while since – of course we have worked in the offseason some throwing the football – but it is different when minicamp comes around," explained Tomlinson. "You get to install everything that is in your playbook and it is a chance to run the plays over and over to try and get on the same page."

While the veterans are smiling – and they will still have some time off before training camp officially begins, the rookies are just beginning to realize how tough the adjustment to the NFL is.

"(The rookies) heads are swimming," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said knowingly. "We have a lot of work to do and we have a tough schedule."

Some of those rookies have just filtered into camp with school commitments keeping them out of the organized team activities portion of the workouts.

While Shawne Merriman was a no-show, sitting out due to he and his agent's insistence on different wording in the injury clause prior to signing his first NFL contract, Luis Castillo arrived on Thursday night to take in the playbook to get ready for his first practice since rookie orientation weekend.

"Today was tough," said Castillo. "I just got in last night and went through the whole playbook with coach. It is a little hectic but it will come.

"I sat down with Coach Nunnely and we went through about 40 plays that everyone already knew. He said, ‘you know you have to pick these up because we are going to call them tomorrow.' I went straight to studying this."

As a first round pick, Castillo will be tasked with learning quickly so he can get on the field and make an impact as a rookie.

For some other rookies, the speed and tempo of the NFL game will come or they will be left behind. This weekend is just another impression they will make on the coaching staff that decides their future. One time where they don't run back to the huddle and the wrong coach is looking on could land them on the unemployment line.

Fans view this weekend as a taste and those competing for jobs view this as a livelihood.

The NFL is back and it is in San Diego, if but for a weekend.

Lightning Quicks:

Randall Godfrey will work out once a day throughout training camp according to coach Schottenheimer to save his energy for the season.


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