Training Camp Blog: Lift the Curtain

The Chargers lifted the curtain on their 2010 training camp Sunday. The full-pads practice coincided with the arrival of first-round pick Ryan Mathews, much to the delight of the thousands of fans in attendance. For those who couldn't make it to Chargers Park, our Stacy Thereza serves as your eyes and ears.

The Chargers opened training camp to the public for the first time on Sunday. Thousands of fans gathered for the full-pads practice at Chargers Park. A line stretched nearly two miles down Murphy Canyon Road before the eager masses were allowed in.

Practice started with warm-ups, during which time fifth-round pick Jonathan Crompton got loose by throwing with fellow rookie Seyi Ajirotutu. The throwing session apparently helped Ajirotutu get loose, as well, as he enjoyed a strong practice in which he only let one ball hit the ground.

Next up came the Oklahoma Drill, a penchant of the old Marty Schottenheimer regime. A couple of young linemen set the tone for the drill when second-year guard Tyronne Green locked horns with rookie NT Cam Thomas. Thomas won Round 1, quickly shedding Green's block and bringing down RB Darren Sproles. However, they met again and Green gained some revenge, clearing a hole for rookie RB Shawnbrey McNeal to pass through.

After the Oklahoma Drill, Coach Norv Turner went for substance over style by putting in some special teams work. Sproles earned some oohs and aahs with his performance, including a nifty punt return in which he sliced right up the middle of the coverage team.

Enjoying a strong practice on both defense and special teams was Steve Gregory. The fifth-year veteran is moving back to strong safety this season after playing last year as a nickel back, and he looked comfortable on Sunday. He made a dynamic interception of a Philip Rivers pass that had been tipped by the team's replacement nickel back, Donald Strickland.

Gregory also showed well on special teams, bulldozing rookie Richard Goodman, who had fallen down during a punt-return attempt.

While the blue-collar Gregory is popular with the fans, the man everybody wanted to see was first-round pick Ryan Mathews, who signed a five-year contract earlier in the day. Thousands of fans chanted Mathews' name, hoping he can fill the cleats of future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.

Mathews looked good during 11-on-11s. On one run, he made a sharp cutback and jetted up the sidelines. He showed good patience and vision on another run, letting his blocks develop in front of him before following them up the middle. It is clear he has some of the same traits that made his predecessor so successful.

Lightning Quicks:

--CB Brandon Hughes was the only player not practicing. Although he was in full gear, he did only soft drills due to a possible hamstring injury.

--CB Antoine Cason was beaten multiple times by WR Malcom Floyd, including one play on which Floyd hit paydirt at the expense of the 2008 first-round pick.

--The play of the day was authored by Shaun Phillips, who needed just one hand to pick off a throw by Rivers.

--One of the prettier offensive plays was a toss from Crompton to FB Jacob Hester, who beat former LSU teammate Darry Beckwith on the play despite tight coverage.

What's your take on the goings-on at Chargers Park? Chat in the message boards.

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