Training Camp Roundup: Youth Movement

Training camp is just over a week old, and it has already become apparent that the Chargers will lean heavily on this year's rookie class. Craig Davis could replace an injured Eric Parker in the starting line-up; Eric Weddle is competing for a starting spot of his own; and Anthony Waters and Legedu Naanee will play key roles as reserves.


--Coach Norv Turner was upbeat after three rookie practice which preceded the full-squad getting to work over the weekend. "It was real good for our staff," Turner said. "It gets you three days to get back into it and really focused again."

--In a break from recent years, the team had all of its draft picks signed and in for the start of camp.

--WR Eric Parker's work has been limited because of a toe injury he suffered in the June minicamp.

--Veteran T Roman Oben was getting some extra early work with Shane Olivea battling an illness.

--To keep Pro Bowl DT Jamal Williams fresh, he will work only once on days when the team practices twice.

--Turner can tell in the early stages of the training camp that the offseason work was absorbed by the Chargers. "All the work we did in the offseason showed up. Our team is in very, very good condition."

--The team has sold all its tickets for its eight home games and has started a waiting list for season tickets.


"We don't have any pressure from the media, the fans or anybody. We have pressure from each other." -- Pro Bowl OLB Shawne Merriman on dealing with the team's lofty expectations.


--While most of the team returned from last year, the two key spots to keep an eye on are the two inside linebacker positions.

Youth will be served at this spot, as the team let veterans Donnie Edwards and Randall Godfrey flee in the offseason.

Stephen Cooper is being asked to replace Godfrey. Cooper has always done well on special teams and saw limited action in spelling Godfrey the last couple of years. Now is his time to shine.

Matt Wilhelm is looked at to take Donnie Edwards' spot. Edwards wasn't a blow-up linebacker but he was dynamite in coverage. Wilhelm has held up well in spot play, but he isn't nearly as fluid as Edwards in pass coverage. Plus, Edwards paced the team in tackles in each of his five years with the squad.

--Vincent Jackson could be the heir apparent to Keenan McCardell. The team let McCardell go, thinking Jackson would be good enough in his third year to fill the void.

--There were many reasons the team let starting SS Terrence Kiel go. Not only did he have off-the-field issues, but he wasn't much of a ball-hawk. The team hopes Clinton Hart can show the team it won't miss Kiel.


Clinton Hart vs. Eric Weddle for starting SS.

Hart has made his mark in three years with the Chargers as always being around the ball. But he can't quite crack the starting lineup. He thought this would be his year, and then the Chargers gave up an impressive package to move up in the second round and take Utah safety Eric Weddle. Some think Weddle is a year away from starting and will get most of his action on special teams. But Weddle, an undersized player who has been told he has no chance before, is ready to battle Hart to start opposite Marlon McCree.


Drayton Florence vs. Antonio Cromartie for starting CB.

Florence was able to hold off Cromartie last year. But now Cromartie has a year under his belt.

Michael Turner vs. Darren Sproles for KR.

Turner averaged 26.5 yards on returns last year. Sproles had similar numbers 2005. But Sproles missed last year with a broken leg and is looking to get back his old job. Antonio Cromartie could also be in the mix.

Ryon Bingham vs. Brandon McKinney for backup DT.

Bingham was able to give starter Jamal Williams some valuable downs off last season and held up well. McKinney is itching for more playing time.


WR Craig Davis is showing well, but has some work to do to move into the starting two spots. ... S Eric Weddle will be getting a long look at free safety. ... TE Scott Chandler is a good blocker, but has to overcome Kelly Griffeth to be the No. 3 player at that spot. ... ILB Anthony Waters said he is about 90 percent after a knee injury wiped out his year last season. Waters is currently running behind Stephen Cooper. ... ILB Brandon Siler is lined up behind Waters as the No. 3 player at that spot. ... CB Paul Oliver has yet to make a big impression.

SD Super Chargers Top Stories