The crowd wasn't nearly as big at Chargers training camp on Wednesday afternoon. Close to 400 people were on hand to see day two of the Shawne Merriman era. But, he isn't the only man on the field.
It is clear that Shawne Merriman
has an exceptional burst off the line but it is also clear that he needs to refine his game. During one-on-one drills with Shane Olivea
, the outside linebacker was stuffed up like a turkey dinner. He had his moments of pressure and has the ability to be a beast down the road.
Steve Foley, on the other hand, was a mismatch for anyone he faced. He thoroughly demolished his battle in one-on-one passing drills with Roman Oben. Quick off the snap and an uncanny ability to make the right swim move put him on the quarterback in a flash.
Keeping with the rush linebacker theme, Shaun Phillips looks a little hungrier than he was a year ago – and he was tied for the league lead in preseason sacks with four.
He still gets caught up in some blocks and has a tough time disengaging but his technique is far superior to what it was a year ago.
"I believe I can be a valuable player to our organization to help us win," said Phillips. "I just go and am trying to close fast to the quarterback. My thing is just that I want to win more battles than I lose."
One player making significant strides is Ryon Bingham. The nose guard from Nebraska missed all of last year after having surgery on his biceps.
Bingham is starting to come into form after a slow start to camp. He is collapsing the interior of the pocket and getting his hands up to throw off the rhythm of the quarterbacks.
"Now it is all about performing out on the field and making a difference," said Bingham.
Jacques Cesaire has also been getting looks on the inside and has performed well. Simply put, Jamal Williams will need the occasional break and Bingham, Cesaire of more likely both will play a pivotal role this year.
Who had the only interception of the day? Jamar Fletcher.
He couldn't have read a short in route any better than he did, making several wonder if he was in the huddle while the play was being called. He has been the best cornerback on the field since day one.
Punter Brian Claybourn debuted on Wednesday at kickoffs. He only had a few reps as they alternated between the 6-foot-1 Western Kentucky alumni and the machine. He did boot one about five yards deep while hitting another to the five.
Nate Kaeding was healthy, at least his legs were, as he was running on another field with long snapper David Binn.
Wide receiver Rob Milanese had the catch of the day. During one-on-one's, Milanese ran a corner route with Jonathan Cox all over him. The ball skirted between the shoulder pads of Cox and the right arm of Milanese, snugly fitting into the tiniest of holes. Had Cox looked back or put a hand up, it likely would have been an imcompletion. The great part about the catch was the concentrated needed to make the snare.
Since he went to my rival high school (Ramapo) in my hometown of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, you can't help but pull for the kid.