Training Camp Blog: Taking Advantage

Monday's practice at Chargers Park justified Norv Turner's enthusiasm this offseason. While the three no-shows were still the talk of the fans, a few fill-ins responded with stellar showings. There was some buzz with the bubble players, too, as a few of them earned some serious consideration.

Stacy Thereza's Training Camp Archives: Aug. 1

Monday's action kicked off with some kick-return work. The drill began with a surprise onside kick by Nick Novak, which was recovered by hands-team vet Kris Wilson. Wilson was glad to secure the ball but none too happy about the hard hit he took from Jeremy Williams, who is going 100 mph in pursuit of a roster spot. This led to a brief skirmish, although that fire dissipated quickly.

Next up was some seven-on-seven work, where a couple of undrafted rookies stepped up their pursuit of the vacant No. 5 receiver position. Seyi Ajirotutu hauled in a couple tough receptions, beating CBs Donald Strickland and Dante Hughes in succession. Also, Richard Goodman won his matchup against Nathan Vasher, who has fallen behind Stickland in the competition for the nickel back position.

Ryan Mathews continued his fan-appeasing ways with another strong workout. He had a couple nice runs up the middle, busting a Darrell Stuckey tackle on one play and dragging Eric Weddle on another. He also did his best LaDainian Tomlinson impression by bouncing one of his runs outside before stiff-arming Jacques Cesaire and Kion Wilson.

San Diego also put in some 11-on-11 work, where the defense won the day. Ron Rivera's unit snuffed out several runs, with his new nose tackle rotation holding its ground in the middle. The defense stayed disciplined and refused to bite on a fake reverse; former Texas teammates Quentin Jammer and Nathan Vasher held their coverage downfield while the pass rush forced Billy Volek to scramble.

The bright spot for the offense was Legedu Naanee, who is going all out to take advantage of the opportunity provided by Vincent Jackson's absence. Naanee was consistent during every drill on Monday. On one play, he ran a perfect out-route to catch a ball on Jammer despite tight coverage. On another, he hauled in a beautiful deep reception over Vasher, although Naanee was ruled out of bounds on the play.

Lightning Quicks

--The only player not participating was Brandon Hughes, who is protecting a sore hamstring. Nate Kaeding dressed but kept his work to a minimum; he is being careful with a groin injury endured during Pro Bowl week.

--Ryan Mathews dropped a pass in the flat that could have resulted in a touchdown. It was one of the few moments that made fans think, "L.T. wouldn't have done that."

--Donald Strickland deflected a pass and hauled it in himself for the interception. He has played well this offseason and will play a key role in the team's sub packages.

--Quentin Jammer, not exactly known for his hands, picked off a Philip Rivers pass intended for Malcom Floyd. Jammer, despite his consistently excellent coverage, averages just two interceptions per season.

--Marcus Mason, the early favorite for the No. 3 running back position, exploded through a hole up the middle before breaking a tackle attempt by Steve Gregory.

What's your take on Mathews' performance so far? Discuss in the message boards.

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