Mini Camp: Cromartie, Rivers Lead the Way

The Chargers wrapped up their post-draft mini camp on Sunday with the veteran stars showing the rookies how it's done. Philip Rivers looked sharp in limited action and Antonio Cromartie picked off a pair of passes. SDBoltReport.com was on the scene and has a detailed breakdown of Sunday's action.

Rivers Remains Sharp

Philip Rivers looked good again on Sunday. After warming up by throwing versus air, he stepped in during the seven-on-seven drill and lit it up, completing 9 of 12 passes. He completed passes to six different receivers, with Vincent Jackson (three catches, including a 50-yard completion) getting most of the attention.

Two of Rivers' incomplete passes were due to the remarkable Antonio Cromartie. The reigning interceptions leader knocked down one pass and intercepted another. Cromartie made another big play later in practice during 11-on-11 red-zone work, when he picked off Charlie Whitehurst in the back of the end zone.

Davis Dinged Again

Buster Davis, who missed Friday's practice with a sore ankle before returning to action on Saturday, sat out again on Sunday. Davis had a reputation in college for not playing through minor injuries and that has followed him to the NFL. Davis missed three games last season with a similar injury.

Legedu Naanee took full advantage of the absences of Davis and Eric Parker, as Naanee stepped in as the slot receiver with the first unit and delivered several difficult catches. He sprawled out for two tough receptions during the 11-on-11 drill and added another diving grab in the end zone during red-zone drill.


TE Brandon Manumaleuna
Lisa Blumenfeld, Getty

Manu Mans Up

With Antonio Gates still out after offseason toe surgery, Brandon Manumaleuna stepped in and performed his best impersonation of the four-time Pro Bowler. Manumaleuna hauled in two difficult receptions on high passes.

The first came from Rivers during seven-on-sevens, when Rivers perfectly placed the ball between triple coverage as Manumaleuna came down with the 30-yard reception. Manumaleuna reached up for another touch catch as he hauled in a touchdown from Billy Volek during a red-zone drill.

Rookie Rises Up

When scouts watched tape of Coastal Carolina earlier this offseason, it was to get a glimpse of WR Jerome Simpson, who was drafted in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals. However, when A.J. Smith looked at Chanticleers on tape, he couldn't help but notice the strong play of FB Mike Tolbert.

With Andrew Pinnock out after microfracture surgery and Jacob Hester getting a long look at halfback, Tolbert has spent a lot of time running with the first unit and has made the most of it. He knows his assignments, seals off linebackers and catches the ball out of the backfield. He made a tough leaping grab on a hot ball from Volek today on a play in which Tolbert lined up split wide. If Pinnock starts the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, Tolbert has a chance to make the active roster.

Toss With a Twist

During yesterday's practice, the Chargers worked on a play in which a wide receiver would motion into the backfield and take a toss from the quarterback. Today, Norv Turner added a twist. During an offensive installment session, Rivers took the snap and pitched it to Naanee, who in turn threw the ball to Chris Chambers in the corner of the end zone. This is just another example of Turner maximizing the diverse talents of his playmakers, as Naanee came to Boise State as a quarterback.

Lightning Quicks

LB Brandon Siler and DE Keith Grennan both practiced their long-snapping skills between sessions. Siler looked like a natural while Grennan looked like a defensive lineman. … FS Steve Gregory followed up a strong showing yesterday with another one today. He broke up three passes and could challenge Paul Oliver for his spot in the dime defense.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.


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