Chargers camp: Starter set opposite McCardell?

The competition at wide receiver is supposed to be between Eric Parker and Reche Caldwell for the starting nod opposite Keenan McCardell. But if you talk to quarterback Drew Brees, he believes the battle is already wrapped up.

Pencil in Eric Parker opposite Keenan McCardell, according to the Pro Bowl quarterback.

"I wouldn't trade those two for any other two receivers in the league," Brees said specifically of Parker and McCardell as his primary wide receiving targets.

The hope among the coaching staff is one emerges to be the frontrunner. Reche Caldwell is in his contract year and back from the trainer's table. Parker, on the other hand, was successful in the second half of the year as a starter.

Given that one was a second round pick and the other an undrafted free agent, it would seem to favor Caldwell.

But his progression has been halted each year while Parker continues to get better.

The optimism that head coach Marty Schottenheimer has is in relation to Caldwell – waiting for the breakout season they thought he had pinned down a year ago before injury ended his campaign.

"Reche has done quite well for us," said Schottenheimer. "We are very pleased with his progress returning from the injury. He is doing a nice job."

In a little over five games, Caldwell surpassed his two year totals for yards receiving, catching 18 for 310 yards, 95 coming after the catch, 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."

This year he has a lot to prove and was on the field Sunday for almost three quarters, subbing in and out. He fumbled after one reception deep inside Ram territory and was lucky to have Landon Trusty recover it. He ended his day with five receptions for 32 yards.

Parker had just five receptions through the first five games and picked it up several notches when Caldwell was knocked out. He ended the year with 47 receptions for 690 yards and four touchdowns.

On Sunday it was Parker out there with the first team and getting rest at the half. By that time he had corralled four passes for 49 yards as the trusted receiver for Brees.

Perhaps Caldwell is envisioning himself in a lineup that includes LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates and McCardell. But he must press Parker for the starting role.

"I feel we should play better on offense," Caldwell said of his 2005 season goals. "There are tons of opportunities out there and we need to capitalize."

Parker cares about one thing, and it is a trait that has endeared him to the coaching staff. He simply wants to win.

"The main thing is to get wins," he said of the goals for the year.

Whoever wins the battle, Drew Brees will be happy with the results.

"Who are you going to cover?" Brees said. "My job is figure out who they aren't covering and eat them up."

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