Chargers camp: The return of Jamal

Tuesday marked the Chargers' fourth day of training camp and things were looking good on several fronts: injured players returned to practice, the offense began to play on par with the defense, and many of the young players continued to show improvement.

Jamal Williams returned to practice today after being held out of the first three days of camp. As defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely walked onto the practice field he jested, "I better wipe the sweat from my eyes, because I thought I just saw Jamal Williams out here practicing." Williams looked both healthy and fit during drills.

"He brings everything you need to a 3-4 defense," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "He is selfless the way he goes about his job."

"He's strong and he has great leverage and he gets great push," linebacker Donnie Edwards said. "As you know, defensive lineman don't get the credit. But linebackers understand without guys in front of them it's going to be very difficult to get things done. I'm happy Jamal (got) respect this year."

Bhawoh Jue was also practicing, although he worked primarily at free safety during scrimmage sessions. It remains to be seen what that means for the supposedly open competition at strong safety.

As the defense was returning to health, the offense appeared to be turning a corner. Philip Rivers looked terrific on the day, and he began to find some success throwing downfield. The offense looked far more dynamic on the whole, although Rivers still wasn't afraid to use his checkdowns when there was nothing else open.

Another offensive player making a big impact is Kassim Osgood. He is running great routes, creating separation and better using his 6-foot-5 frame to dominate smaller defenders. He has been standing out since camp opened, and looks at this point to have the edge on Vincent Jackson for the team's third receiver position.

Osgood and his fellow receivers had tremendous success against the team's cornerbacks during the one-on-one passing drill, but one trend remained consistent – no receiver is having any success against Drayton Florence. He has been the star of the secondary and if he can maintain such fluidity in coverage his starting spot will be secure.

Those not covered by Florence, however, fared much better. Keenan McCardell was the most impressive of the group, catching everything thrown his way and routinely beating Quentin Jammer. Even when Jammer was in good position, McCardell always found a way to get his body between Jammer and the ball.

During the special teams segments, the team worked on their kickoff coverage. With special teams aces Hanik Milligan, Kassim Osgood and Carlos Polk all on the coverage team, the Chargers are unlikely to finish in the bottom third of the league in kick coverage as they did a year ago.

"I don't think we have enough time to talk about all the benefits of him," Schottenheimer said of Polk. "He is as remarkable a player as I have ever been around. He has endless energy. He is a terrific guy – one of the most popular players on this team."

The only downer of the day was the sight of Roman Oben limping heavily along the sidelines. He looks like he is in pain just walking, so it is hard to fathom he could be fit to hold up 300-lb. defensive ends with that foot within the month.

Fortunately for the Chargers, their depth at offensive tackle may not be as lacking as once feared. While Leander Jordan and Marcus McNeill battle for time on the left side, Cory Lekkerkerker and Ben Johnson are showing strong on the right. Rookie Jeromey Clary is facing an uphill battle in his attempt to earn a roster spot.

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