Vets using Mini Camp to show rooks the ropes

The San Diego Chargers are ready to win now. For that to happen, this year's draft class must have a steep learning curve, as all six selections will be expected to contribute immediately. To ensure to readiness of the rookies, several veterans went out of their way to help the youngsters adapt during the first Mini Camp of the offseason and of the Norv Turner era.

The rookie with the best chance to begin the season as a starter is Eric Weddle, who will challenge Bhawoh Jue for the starting spot opposite Marlon McCree. Because of that, McCree is working overtime to help Weddle make the jump to the pro game.

"I went out and ate with (McCree) just to catch up and get to know each other a little bit," Weddle said. "He's been taking me under his wing and giving me every little tidbit of knowledge that he can give to me."

If Weddle is named a starter, he will be one of three new starters on a defense that ranked No. 10 in the league last season. The other two will be Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm, whose promotions created vacancies on the depth chart for Anthony Waters and Brandon Siler.

On the offensive side of the ball, a trio of rookie pass catchers are using Mini Camp to build chemistry with Philip Rivers. Although Legedu Naanee and Scott Chandler will likely be featured only in certain packages, first-round pick Craig Davis could be on the field nearly as much as starters Vincent Jackson and Eric Parker.

Thus far, Rivers is impressed with the Chargers' top offseason acquisition.

"Craig Davis, in particular, he's going to be a heck of a player," Rivers said. "He can really run and he's shown some signs of why he was picked where he was."

The theme in this year's draft was quality over quantity, so each of the team's draft picks is feeling the pressure to make an immediate impact, albeit on different levels.

LaDainian Tomlinson, entering his seventh season, has been using Mini Camp to scout the rookies, trying to figure out which of them are capable of contributing to a championship run this season.

"You see guys coming in and you're already starting to think, 'Okay, which guys are going to help us win?'" Tomlinson said. "You just start to picture yourself winning and formulating a team."

The picture is starting to come into focus, and Tomlinson, Rivers, McCree and the rest of the veterans like what they are seeing from these promising rooks in the team's first Mini Camp.


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