Chargers start application process

With fans salivating at the chance to see their favorite team this weekend at Chargers Park on Murphy Canyon road, the players were out on Friday putting the knowledge gleaned over the last few weeks to use.

While the setting isn't much different than the off-season team activities (OTA), this is a mandatory mini-camp and encompasses some actual bumping of chests and a quicker tempo.

The masses rolling in on Saturday and Sunday are still wondering what happened last year but carry the enthusiasm of a winning season.

There is some hesitance, however, for the fans. They understand that this team has some exceptional players but wonder quietly if it will come together.

Inevitably, the focus turns to Philip Rivers.

"I have a lot of great tools besides the game experience," the quarterback said. "The job is to win games."

The rest of the team has no reservations about how good this team can be. They realize that they are blessed with several Pro Bowl players and the expectations remain high for 2006.

"Expect us to be good," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "At times, it will take some patience. Every quarterback goes through a learning curve on the football field, learning defenses and learning game speed."

That learning took a quick shuffle on Friday with the team getting in one of five practices for the weekend.

"We had an opportunity to take a lot of information that has been developed over the course of the coaching sessions and apply it in an environment that was pretty good tempo," head coach Marty Schottenheimer explained.

Things didn't go as smoothly as planned. The offense threw three interceptions, an alarming number to Schottenheimer who stresses taking care of the football and making smart decisions.

It also showed that the secondary is ready to take its game to a new level after barely touching a ball last season.

Another area that drew the ire of Schottenheimer was penalties.

"We had a couple of fouls – the very first play we had an illegal motion," Schottenheimer said. "The irony is (minicamp versus OTA's isn't a whole lot different. When you put the tag "'minicamp' on it something changes and I don't know why."

Instilling the fundamentals and expectations are still a work in progress. The team has prided itself on the teachings of their coach over the last few years and Schottenheimer won't expect anything less this year.

We are, after all, only in June and training camp is still well over a month away. Trying to take too much from one practice can be hazardous.

Tomlinson confirmed that thinking, adding, "Not too worry. I think (the fans) can expect us to be good."

The players and coaches believe it. You should too.

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