Defense Looks Dominant

The defense lit up Chargers Park during Wednesday's night practice. Inspired by strong performances from Shawne Merriman, Antonio Cromartie and Eric Weddle, the defense rallied and the offense was left to suffer the wrath. While getting dominated by the defense in an end-of-game scrimmage, the offensive players were forced to endure the longest two minutes of their lives.

Drayton Florence did little to distinguish himself from his top competition, Antonio Cromartie, but Florence competed with himself as he spun around several times, purposely losing his bearing, before catching a kick from the JUGS machine during warm-ups.

The linebackers practiced footwork over the ground dummies, stripping the ball from a coach's hand at the end of each pass-through. Next, the outside linebackers moved onto the sleds, although Shawne Merriman sat out the attack routine. Ron Rivera brought his crew to midfield to practice receiving, where rookie Anthony Waters hands got the best of him as he dropped an easy catch.

The offense and defense toiled together in some running game work. Merriman, Luis Castillo and the first-team defense dominated against a hapless third-team offense. However, rookie running back Eldra Buckley took his game up a notch and picked up some good chunks of yardage for the offense.

The dynamic duo dominated during inside run drills, as three straight handoffs to LaDainian Tomlinson from Philip Rivers netted significant yardage. Charlie Whitehurst earned some playing time with the number one offense. The second-year quarterback quickly became intimately familiar with handing off to L.T.

Meanwhile, Cromartie provided some tight coverage in the passing game one-on-ones, but could not hang on to the ball, dropping two possible interceptions. On the first one, No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson beat Cromartie downfield, but the ball was underthrown and fell right through Cromartie's hands. The second time around, the throw was intended for rookie Rhema McKnight, who has shined since being claimed on waivers from the New Orleans Saints, but Cromartie was there to knock it down. Again, it could have been an easy interception.

The two minute drills riled up the players and the crowd. First-round pick Craig Davis kicked things off with a six-yard pick-up on a pass from Rivers, good for a first down. Florence was there to push Davis out of bounds. Merriman turned up the heat on Rivers, causing him to an errant pass into the side of the portable toilet situated between the two practice fields, much to the surprise of a rookie on bathroom break.

Tight coverage by Cromartie on Davis resulted in an incomplete pass. The offense recovered, though, when Jackson earned a 16-yard pick-up. However, the defense stuck back when rookie Eric Weddle provided enough pressure on All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates to cause an incompletion. The defense made three more stops in succession to end the drill.

Next, Nate Kaeding was brought in for a unique field goal attempt, which was aimed at a narrow goalpost just five yards wide. The kick went wide right.

Billy Volek led off his two-minute drills with a play that yielded a three-yard pick up by Darren Sproles. The backup quarterback used Sproles again, but Gabe Franklin was there to prevent the change-of-pace back from gaining much yardage.

With 49 seconds remaining on the clock, a false start penalty set the offense back five yards. Scott Chandler, a fourth-round pick from Iowa, was on the receiving end of a completion on the next snap.

Cletis Gordon almost ended the drill with an interception, but couldn't corral it on his way out of bounds. Still at the 42-yard line, Marques Harris debuted his one-man show. The third-year player tipped the ball up in the air and almost came down with an incredible takeaway. On a last gasp attempt, a pass intended for Kassim Osgood was broken up by Tra Battle and Stephen Cooper. Kaeding came in to bail out the offense, drilling a field goal right down the middle of the slim goalpost.

Despite the dominant defensive performance, the offense got off the hook as world-renowned trash talker Carlos Polk was in sweats for Wednesday's practice.

Bolts fans have one last chance to see their team at training camp before Sunday night's showdown against the Seattle Seahawks. That will come Friday, Aug. 10 from 4-6 p.m.

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


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