Rookies Shine for Scouts, Study for Seahawks

The number of days remaining before the Chargers take on the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason opener for both teams can be counted on one hand, and the Bolts are starting to feel the pressure. The battles for starting roles intensified at Chargers Park on Tuesday. The rookies stepped it up to avoid the Turk and the stars made their presence felt, as usual.

The drills of training camp are starting to become monotonous but are realizing their purpose: to drill in the plays and techniques until they become second nature. Players on the bottom of the roster found some extra motivation on Tuesday, as the Canadian Football League's scouts were on the sideline looking for some leftovers. The entire team played with passion, which only means one thing -- a game is approaching.

The outside linebackers attacked the sleds and dummies with the strength that only a top-tier defense can bring. Shaun Phillips started things off; he struck the bags with roaring grunts. Antwan Applewhite was told that he needed more pop on his first run through, but he picked up quickly, getting a "that's it Antwan," the second time around. Fellow rookie Jyles Tucker was informed he needed to get his hands down on his initial pass through, and like Applewhite, learned fast. The freshman attacked with attitude his next time around.

Drayton Florence brought his 'A' game to Tuesday's practice. The five-year veteran applied intense pressure on Greg Camarillo, earning praise from Coach Bill Bradley. Florence is picking up his game at the right time, as Antonio Cromartie is pushing him hard for his starting spot.

Rookie Onrea Jones created a broad separation from Paul Oliver, as the supplemental draft pick struggles to get up to speed. Later, Rhema McKnight but a significant beating on Gabe Franklin.

The cornerbacks finally stepped up when rookie Quinton Jones manned up against Rich Musinski, instigating an incomplete.

During an offense versus defense session, Michael Turner and Darren Sproles picked up big gainers up the middle. The first big stop for the defense was made by Florence, who was in position to collide with Sproles after a short catch.

The Chargers defense picked it up from there on. Philip Rivers' play did not turn out as planned when he faked a handoff to LaDainian Tomlinson, followed by a delivery to Vincent Jackson who dropped the ball while under heavy duress. The third-year receiver held his ground later on when he was able to beat triple coverage for an amazing catch downfield. The heavy defensive traffic did not faze Tomlinson; the MVP had two possessions where he darted along the sideline to avoid a swarm of oncoming defenders.

Mike Scifres received crowd attention because of a punt with a punch that reached the end zone, with no return specialist to benefit.

The full-squad scrimmage offered a glimpse of what's to come on Sunday during NBC's coverage of the Chargers-Seahawks game. Shawne Merriman had a chance to turn out the lights on rookie Sonny Shackelford, although Merriman mercifully sidestepped the collision after Shackelford was left out to dry by Charlie Whitehurst.

Lorenzo Neal carried the ball more during Tuesday's practice than he had in any other day of camp. Neal got plenty of touches in short-yardage situations, continuing an obvious trend from last season.

Lightning Quick: Michael Kranzler is providing breaking news from Chargers camp at sdboltreport.blogspot.com.


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