Coach Turner utilizing offensive versatility

Head Coach Norv Turner earned his reputation as an offensive genius by creating favorable match-ups and putting his players in the best possible position to succeed. He will have an easy time of that in San Diego, where he has several versatile toys to tinker with. Most of the Chargers' skill players can play multiple positions, giving Turner more options than Hometown Buffet.

The last time Norv Turner coached LaDainian Tomlinson was in 2001, when Tomlinson was a rookie struggling the read defenses. Since then, L.T has developed into the most versatile weapon in the NFL. In 2003, he proved his mettle as a receiver by catching 100 passes. In 2005, he added some quarterbacking experience to his résumé, throwing for three touchdowns.

Coach Turner is sure to put all of those skills to good use in his reunion with the league's reigning MVP. The key will be Turner re-familiarizing himself with Tomlinson's ever-expanding skill set.

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

There are several other players who will line up all over the field in Coach Turner's offense. Antonio Gates spent the first Mini Camp working at wide receiver and will spend more time aligned outside the hashes. That should help him improve on last season's numbers, when he posted his fewest receptions, yards and touchdowns since his rookie year.

One new player who may match Gates' versatility is Legedu Naanee, a rookie fifth-round pick who has lined up at fullback, tight end and wide receiver already this offseason. Although he has yet to see live-game action as a pro, the early returns on his play have been favorable.

"Naanee is going to be a player," said Malcom Floyd, who has been teaching the rookie the intricacies of the receiver position. "He is lining up all over the place, going in motion and doing a lot of movement."

The Chargers will also look to take advantage of their versatility up front. Vincent Jackson will play tight end and block linebackers; Brandon Manumaleuna will line up at tackle in jumbo packages; and Lorenzo Neal will split out wide to force a linebacker to follow him out of the box.

As an offensive innovator who excels with Xs and Os, Coach Turner sees the field as a giant chess board. But with pawns that can move like rooks and rooks that can move like queens, he has a huge advantage in putting his opponents in checkmate.


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