Mini Camp bonds players and coaches

The San Diego Chargers justified the hirings of Norv Turner and Ted Cottrell by citing a desire for consistency. While the schemes on both sides of the ball will stay very much the same, the differences in coaching styles between this staff and that of Marty Schottenheimer are quickly becoming obvious. Many players used the recent Mini Camp to adapt to those changes.

Norv Turner will be more of a hands-on coach than Marty Schottenheimer, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Last season, Schottenheimer functioned like a CEO, giving coordinators Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips near total autonomy.

This year, Turner will call the plays on offense, so it was important for him to use Mini Camp to get comfortable with the players on that side of the ball.

"There's a lot of stuff that we have to learn from our coaches that they want us to do, and I'm sure there are a lot of things they want to learn from us," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Gelling together is going to take a little time, so this part of the year is important."

The defensive players are getting used to a new coach as well, as Ted Cottrell brings in a tweaked version of the 3-4 defense the Chargers ran a season ago. Under the new scheme, the players will focus on improving third-down defense. Another point of emphasis will be tightening up against hurry-up offenses.

Although Cottrell has had but a few days to work with his new players, the early results have been positive.

"A lot of things are still the same, a lot of the offensive and defensive plays," Luis Castillo said. "In terms of logistically getting used to Norv and his systems and Ted Cottrell and his way of coaching, it's going to take some time. There was definitely improvement in Mini Camp."

As important as Mini Camp was for the players, who were eager the sample the teachings of the new regime, it was just as important for the coaches. This was their first chance to see the what the 2007 Chargers look like on the field.

"I think the three days together were great for our football team," Coach Turner said. "I probably benefited from it as much as anybody, being with the guys and getting to know them. When you see this team from afar you know there is great ability on the team. The things that impressed me during these three days were the attitude, the energy and the approach this group had.

"Obviously, it's a group that is highly, highly motivated and that makes it easy to coach."

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