A new start

The day of reckoning has arrived. The San Diego Chargers officially kickoff training camp on Saturday and that itch that has been bugging all the players since January can finally begin to be soothed.

"Well here we go again," the smiling proud papa of the Chargers, Marty Schottenheimer, said.

"I have been itching for this moment ever since that first moment I walked in the door," quarterback Philip Rivers admitted. "It's here."

The two have different reasons to smile coming into the year. Schottenheimer wants to recapture the magic of 2004 and the 12-4 season that led to the playoffs.

Last year, the team suffered through a brutal schedule that led to a 9-7 season and the constant term of affection ‘best team not to make the playoffs.'

Unfortunately, the fact is they missed out on the postseason and that means they must get better to compete for a Championship this year.

There big haul in the off-season was Marlon McCree, a safety that is expected to add a playmaking dimension to a unit that sorely lacked a sparkplug. Two tight ends were also added, both of whom are astute blockers and should add a dimension to the running game.

San Diego also added a cornerback with immense talent in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft and another potential starter in Marcus McNeill.

"I expect we will be considerably better," Schottenheimer opined. "We have had some young guys who have had an opportunity to play. We thing we are going to be improved.

"There is still the uncertainty on the medical side. Roman has worked hard and his sense is he will be ready. We will be much improved along the offensive line."

Rivers, on the other hand, is ecstatic to be called the starter.

His season officially begins on Sunday – despite the tutelage he has received in his last two years as a backup.

The North Carolina State product has seen the field as much as we have in the last two years but the handoff has been made and it is up to him to make the right decisions and lead a talented team to the Promised Land.

Nothing less will be accepted.

Before we get sentimental, it starts with a word – training camp.

"You tag the word training camp and it means a little more," Rivers admitted. "We are less than three weeks to playing and these next few weeks are important to continue where we have been headed to all summer."

It won't be easy. He may not have an Oklahoma Drill to look forward to, but the rigors of camp are just the start of the fun.

"There isn't a guy that comes to training camp that doesn't get sore, tight or tired," Schottenheimer said. "The pace accelerates and the speed accelerates."

And so must Rivers.

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