The mantle has been passed

While he can't steal many repetitions from the rookies in camp who are supposed to benefit from veterans not in on the fun for the first few days, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is clearly tired of the mental reps and wants to see what he can do in live action.

You can see the chew marks on the locker room door that has been holding him back all off-season.

While this is a game he has played since he could barely see over the big wheel, the realization that this is his camp has hit Philip Rivers as he hops from foot to foot as if someone was lighting the matchbox between his toes.

"The kind of nervous is a good nervous," he says. "If you don't have it I think there is something wrong with you."

The new leader of this team is in early and ready to set the stage for the next phase of his development. With lofty expectations in the locker room, staying close to Murphy Canyon was a no-brainer.

"I like doing a couple of these practices early, just to get back into the drill work and all that stuff. You can't ever get enough work in."

"He is clearly inexperienced being between the stripes but Philip Rivers has played a lot of football," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "He developed his skills and what we will find is not the product of any one player we have. It is the product of what we do as a team. That is where the true challenge lies. You have to blend all the pieces together."

And Rivers is an integral part of that. How will he respond after a crucial interception? How will he handle it when he is sacked with the game on the line?

Over two years in the backup huddle, Rivers has displayed some of the characteristics that leaders display but what happens when failure hits.

Will he look his teammates in the eyes and promise them he will be back with renewed vigor the following week?

There is no misconception in Rivers' world. He knows that only one thing can gain the true support of the locker room – winning. The players can talk a big game in their belief in Rivers. While there is no Marcellus Wiley in this locker room, winning breeds the kind of confidence the team needs collectively to trust in the man under center.

"I thought I set the foundation for gaining that trust and respect," Rivers began. "This summer, I continued to do that. It all boils down to performing on the field. That gains you as much trust as anything."

"He has great credibility with his teammates as a leader and what you need to do at that position," added Schottenheimer. "The mantle has been passed and he has stepped forward.

"I am not concerned about Philip; I am really not."


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