Practice Gets Intense

The Chargers' coaches had a long itinerary for Tuesday's practice and the players rose to the challenge. Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd buoyed the passing game, while the linebackers -- sans Matt Wilhelm -- set the tone for the defense. The team has found extra motivation after dropping a sloppy preseason opener and is ready for redemption in St. Louis.

Tensions were high at Chargers Park on Tuesday. Before practice officially got underway, Greg Camarillo was scolded for mishandling a punt and Tra Battle was called out for a lack of focus.

Quarterback Brett Elliott got his handoff skills healthy, managing a running drill with Lorenzo Neal, Michael Turner, Tyronne Gross and Eldra Buckley.

The first-team defense squared off against the second-team offense for the first live action of the day. Billy Volek got things started with a handoff to Turner, who collected major real-estate up the middle. Volek leaned on his halfbacks throughout this drill, finding Darren Sproles on an outlet pass.

When the units flipped, Philip Rivers employed the otherworldly LaDainian Tomlinson on a couple of quick-hitters. Vincent Jackson sparked the vertical attack with an exceptional catch under defensive duress. Malcom Floyd followed with a tough catch of his own but was bullied off the playing field by Antonio Cromartie.

Volek earned three snaps with the first team, once handing off to Turner and twice throwing incomplete. Rivers then returned to his rightful place with the first team, but the offense took a while to warm back up to him. Rivers started with an incomplete pass to Antonio Gates, who was battling tight coverage from Eric Weddle. Things picked back up when Jackson made a diving catch. This set up a touchdown throw to Floyd, as the third-year receiver tip-toed the back line.

Charlie Whitehurst then took the helm and located Mark Simmons, who secured the pass before being annihilated by Quinton Jones. Next, Whitehurst threw too high for Scott Chandler, no easy task given the wingspan on the 6-foot-7 rookie. On the opposite end of the height spectrum, Sproles used his incredible quickness to manufacture a couple of nice plays.

Back on the field for a seven-on-seven drill, River's continued to vibe with Jackson. When the offense got back to the ground attack, Tomlinson was gang-tackled by Tim Dobbins, Carlos Polk and Stephen Cooper. Dobbins, who is playing first string while Matt Wilhelm recuperates, nearly intercepted a pass intended for Craig Davis, but the rookie out of LSU kept his focus and made the catch.

Cromartie came up with stops on three of the next six plays and seems destined to be this season's breakout player.

L.T. authored a rare miscue by dropping an easy throw, kicking the ground in disgust. Tomlinson ran extra hard with his subsequent carries, working diligently to redeem himself.

In the final session of offense versus defense, Drayton Florence's defensive intensity got the best of Floyd. However, Floyd came right back, using his body to shield Cromartie and make a tough catch on his next opportunity. Seventh-year safety Marlon McCree intercepted a pass thrown by Rivers later in the drill.

Igor Olshansky, Steve Gregory and Matt Wilhelm (who was wearing a walking boot) were among those not suited up for practice. Wilhelm, who missed his starting debut because of a strained calf, guaranteed Chargers' fans that he will be back in time to play the Chicago Bears.

Lightning Quick: Michael Kranzler is providing exclusive coverage from Chargers Park at sdboltreport.blogspot.com.


SD Super Chargers Top Stories