Chargers camp: Defense wins big on Friday

The San Diego Chargers defense was amped up on Friday. With less than a week to go until the first preseason game, they are beginning to set the tone. Perhaps that is why offensive line coach Carl Mauck had the highlight and humor of the day, picking up a loose ball and running it to the official with Roman Oben providing the lead blocks.

  • Hanik Milligan simply had no chance.

    Tasked with covering rookie sensation Darren Sproles, Milligan was overmatched. It took one small error and Sproles smoked him. Sproles lined up outside and Milligan, playing about seven yards off the line, had him on the first few steps. As Sproles approached him, Milligan took a glance into the backfield and it was done. Sproles cut inside and then back outside, leaving Milligan without shoes. Sproles had a good five-to-ten yard advantage in his route and caught the pass 30 yards down the field near the sidelines.

    It was one play later that Sproles lined up on the outside against Bhawoh Jue. Sproles ran a similar route but the different this time was it was a running play. Jue did not take his eyes off Sproles and ran the route with him, entirely taking him out of the play.

    Those are the exact mismatches that have the Chargers excited about what Sproles brings to the team.

  • It took a while but it finally came. Dave Ball, recovering from three different surgeries this offseason, was in the backfield regularly on Friday.

    With the team in full pads during the morning session, Ball showed a nice burst off the edge and better leverage than in the past. His weakness coming out of college had been an under-developed lower half. His legs appear stronger – or, perhaps, it is just others being tired from going at it twice a day while Ball gets his one practice per. Given his ability to push the offensive lineman and make the move to get past them, we are going with stronger legs.

  • Quentin Jammer was all over the rock. He made a fantastic interception on a pass from Drew Brees to Eric Parker and just missed picking off another ball. One of the concerns with Jammer has always been his ability to locate the ball in the air and his passiveness in turning around and getting his hands up.

    He was rewarded for doing both on Friday. The pass from Brees was slightly behind Parker and Jammer was riding his hip. He made a one-handed snatch as he turned. He also jumped a route and should have had the pick but it dropped.

  • Terrence Kiel was making the rounds on Friday. The heavy hitter knocked down two passes, playing almost like a linebacker, and picked off a pass.

    His awareness on the field has increased, particularly when the strong safety cheats towards the line of scrimmage. He had previously cheated himself out of several plays but now is providing solid coverage and reads in the defensive backfield.

  • Clinton Hart made a terrific play in pass coverage, zooming in on an in route to break up a pass. Jerry Wilson was the beneficiary as he picked the carom.
  • Kassim Osgood needs the ball a little more. He may be the toughest receiver on the team to tackle.

    Last year, he dragged several defenders down the field during one game and on Friday he met up with Drayton Florence.

    Florence, known to get his hits in even in practice, was run over by the big receiver after a short reception. Florence, coincidentally, came back and tossed Osgood to the ground.

    "It is all within the confines of the game," Osgood said of the trash-talking and extracurricular activities from Florence.

    The two are very good friends and spent the offseason training together – the only result of the small tussle was Osgood flipping the ball to Florence, showing him up for making the catch and getting the first hit in.

    "He was trying to get the best of me and I had to throw him down," Florence countered.

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