The sense of urgency can be seen at Chargers camp these days as two-a-days are back in full swing. The season is less than a month away and crisp practices are the precursor to a productive year.
That means there is a lot of yelling at training camp, some good but mostly bad.
"It is an important part of training camp," head coach Marty Schottenheimer agreed.
Kassim Osgood came down with the catch of the day in double coverage. With Drayton Florence underneath and Terrence Kiel over the top, the ball was threaded between the two and Osgood came down with it. Florence heard the call of "ball" and jumped up to try and defend too soon, taking him out of the play and Kiel just missed the ball. It left Osgood with the reception and smooth sailing to the end zone.
Osgood also showed his improved hands on a deflected ball from Sammy Davis later in practice. Davis, coming on with a couple of strong practices in a row, got a hand on the rock but Osgood showed good patience and hands by corralling it.
Jamar Fletcher picked off a Philip Rivers pass – well sort of. He jumped a quick out route and bobbled the ball before securing it. He was ruled out of bounds by the referee. Linebackers' coach Greg Manusky tried to argue the call to no avail.
Fletcher didn't have it so easy on Monday as secondary coach Brian Stewart stressed one word to the cornerback, "patience."
Stewart was also critical of another play by Fletcher, telling his cornerback to "play the hip, not to the ball."
Stewart's wrath also reached that of Abraham Elimimian, saying "I hope to God that was pass interference" on a play that he failed to make, leaving the receiver wide open in the end zone.
Craig Ochs got a number of looks on Monday – a rarity for the fourth quarterback. He has usually been relegated to handing off during running drills or paying his dues in other ways.
"I've never really had a true quarterbacks coach in the sense of a coach who played the position," said Ochs on his acclimation to life as a Charger. "My two coaches in college never played quarterback, so I'm really excited to be around a man who played the position and who played at a high level at the University of Florida."
That might continue soon. During one-on-one drills, he held onto the ball twice without throwing the ball – in a drill that always sees the ball thrown. The defensive backs get credit for suffocating defense but even they were yelling, "Throw the ball."
The passes he did throw looked good but it was clear he did not have the rhythm or timing of those getting regular snaps.
Jamal Williams was a beast on defense. He was continuously in the backfield during running drills and batted a pass at the line. He had a chance to catch the ball on the way down but came up empty.
"He is the premier run stopper in the NFL," defensive end Igor Olshansky said.
Dave Ball notched a sack of Cleo Lemon and showed no ill-effects from off-season surgeries. His improvement comes from increased strength in his lower half, something that was sorely lacking last year.
On Ball's sack, Igor Olshansky was also in Lemon's face, preventing the backside lane from being open, providing containment.
Quentin Jammer had a strong practice as well, getting beat cleanly just once in more than a handful of reps. After one strong play, Schottenheimer gave him a chest-bump to show his appreciation for the play.
"I was pleased for him," Schottenheimer said afterwards. "You can see the progress being made everyday."
Jammer said the progress can be attributed to an increased ability to locate the ball when it is in the air. He worked this offseason with a trainer to improve his hand-eye coordination and that facet of his game.
Greg Camarillo continues to impress in practice. He has shown an ability to create nice separation in his routes and his hands have been as sure as anyone else in camp. That may not, however, translate into a spot on the roster in a tightly contested race.
"Camarillo is not a fast guy but is quick and has very, very sure hands," Schottenheimer said.
Cory Lekkerkerker continues to be abused at the point of attack. He, right now, is overwhelmed by the athleticism of the defensive linemen he is facing.