Charger rookies paying early dividends

Rookie minicamp has arrived and that means a chance to see the new blood in action for the first time. First round pick Antonio Cromartie didn't disappoint, picking off a pass and getting his hands on a few others.

And so it is the time of year to be excited about rookies and football, helmets and pads.

Day one was filled with the usual celebratory smiles all around. While the work has just begun, the initial optimism is clear.

"It is always a day of great anticipation because with all these young men you spend a lot of time on them, studying them researching, a couple of weeks in preparation for the draft and now you finally get an opportunity to see them," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "I was pleased with the work today."

And after the day Antonio Cromartie had, it is expected. Not only did he pick off a pass, he also got his hand on a ball or two.

"I got my hands on the ball a couple of times," he said. "I am looking forward to more stuff like that every single day."

It was third round pick Charlie Whitehurst who got the accolades, however. Schottenheimer sounded a little surprised at his abilities.

Whitehurst was on point most of the day and showed noticeable zip on his passes. It seemed that he already has the playbook memorized.

"He did a good job getting the ball out of his hands and made good decisions," said Schottenheimer. "He has good skills. I was very impressed."

When asked later who impressed, Schottenheimer again praised the work of Whitehurst.

"Charlie jumped out at me with his skills," he said.

The former Clemson quarterback is getting plenty of repetitions without the veterans in camp.

Ironically, he is behind Philip Rivers, who ranks first in ACC history in career passing yards (13,484), and is first in career completions (1087), while Whitehurst is third in both areas with 9,665 yards and 817 completions.

"It's a good situation here," Whitehurst said. "I'm looking to compete and see what happens."

The third member of day one was trying to get adjusted to the speed of the game and felt the offensive line had a good session in.

Marcus McNeill also believes he is ahead of the curve when it comes to learning the Chargers' offense.

"We were real productive," McNeill said. I feel like we got the speed of the drills down well. I come from a very similar scheme at Auburn – a lot of the blocking schemes are the same."

Day one if always full of optimism. If the good days outlive the poor, it could mean contributions from many of these kids as early as this year.


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