Chargers Minicamp has come and gone

Everyone got the first taste of the 2006 Chargers team assembled this past weekend and getting those new parts into the turning wheel as it churns towards the regular season.            

With a new quarterback taking over as the starter, the team no longer boasts the return of all 22 of its starters from the previous year. Much of the rest of the team will remain intact, but there is no doubt that the quarterback position creates the most buzz, and, of course, work.

The position had seen some stability over the last few years with Drew Brees the man. Now Philip Rivers takes over after watching from his perch on the sidelines – a two-year caged animal.

It wasn't without a touch of irony that Brees checked out part of practice this weekend. And Rivers gives him credit for helping him over those two years.

"Drew was hands down as good as I can believe anyone else can be in preparing week in and week out," Rivers said. "That was one thing I was able to learn from the guy."

The playbook isn't the problem, but learning the nuances of his receivers and backs remain a work in progress.

Does Antonio Gates see the same defense Rivers does when he floats back? Does he anticipate the break based on the coverage?

"We are trying to execute and stay on the same page," Gates affirmed.

What about the relationship with running back LaDainian Tomlinson? Is the ball being delivered into Tomlinson's sweet spot? Is Marcus McNeill meeting his blocking assignments and expectations?

"You get to install everything that is in your playbook and it is a chance to run the plays over and over to try and get on the same page," running back LaDainian Tomlinson explained.

Similar questions rotate through the positions on offense and defense. Having the fans out in the bleachers and on the sidelines fueled the enthusiasm and competition level of both the offense and defense.

While it will get stale facing each other day in and day out, the point has yet to arrive for Rivers and his cast on offense. They are still learning each other and happy to have a defense that is showing more and more signs of life in pass defense.

"We are all in it together," said Rivers. "Competition is what brings out the best."

At the conclusion of the weekend, head coach Marty Schottenheimer was asked to give Rivers a grade to which he responded, "It is hard for me to give A's this early to anyone but I would say a B+. I thought he did a terrific job."

Lightning Quicks:

  • Many of the Chargers showed appreciation for the fans that showed up through the weekend, including the head coach:

    "Many of them don't live and die with the Chargers," Schottenheimer explained of the fans in attendance. "Figuratively, it is an important part of their fall season. Our motivation to win is based on wanting to win but it is nice to see the amount of enthusiasm that is generated by our fans."

  • Schottenheimer said he "expects" Roman Oben will be ready for the start of training camp but there are quiet whispers that say he may not return in time for not only camp but the regular season.

    Oben had never missed a game until last season and now the pain in his foot from plantar fascitis and several surgeries has kept him out of action for eight months. Based on what we have heard it could be a lot longer than that before he is ready to play again.


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