Stacy Thereza's Camp Archives: Aug. 1 | Aug. 2 | Aug. 3 | Aug. 4
San Diego's new-look backfield was on display as Ryan Mathews and Marcus Mason shared the field during shotgun formations. Mathews continued his strong training camp and showed improved hands, too, not dropping a single ball for the first time during camp.
QB Billy Volek continued to show why he's the best No. 2 in the business. He threw both of the offense's touchdown passes during the full squad scrimmage. On the first, he found rookie WR Ernest Smith, who beat double-coverage by CBs Dante Hughes and Nathan Vasher. On the second, Volek found Gary Banks, who -- in his first practice back from a back injury -- beat FS Paul Oliver on a skinny post.
Smith and Banks both had strong practices on the whole. Smith caught several passes and was in-sync with fellow rookie Jonathan Crompton. Banks showed he could make plays regardless of the quarterback, as well, shrugging off coverage from Eric Weddle and Vasher to secure a Philip Rivers offering.
One rookie who struggled was Jeremy Williams, who is battling Banks for the No. 5 receiver position. Williams had a string of drops, prompting Coach Norv Turner to scream, "Do you have a problem? Catch the ball!"
Williams earned a bit of redemption later by making a tough catch on a deep outside route. The ball was thrown by Crompton, who -- like Williams -- was seeking a bit of redemption after his pick-crazy practice on Tuesday.
Also seeing his stock arrow flip northward was Vasher. He made a couple of great tackles on Curtis Brinkley and Ernest Smith to hold them to minimal gains. Vasher is likely resigned to being the dime back this season, but his veteran presence provides a terrific insurance policy.
--LB Newcomer Ali Highsmith had his first day of practice after Donald Butler was put on the injured-reserve list.
--The defense did a good job of pressuring Rivers, forcing him to throw away a couple passes.
Who will be the No. 5 receiver this season? Discuss inside the message boards.
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