It was special for the fans, but for the Chargers players, Saturday was just another day at work. The team held practice in front of the largest crowd of camp at Qualcomm Stadium. There may have been extra music and a few extra cameras on the field, but today was still practice.
It was the first time most of the Chargers’ rookies got to play at Qualcomm Stadium. Although it may have been just another day, there’s no denying they were out there fighting for a chance to gain a few new fans.
Limited to only one playing field, Mike McCoy used the day to prep for the upcoming preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, which is only a week away.
If there has been one rock on this Chargers team over the years, it’s Mike Scifres. Coach Kevin Spencer had his unit out working on downing punts inside the 20 with contact at full speed. Scifres didn’t boot a single ball into the end zone.
Johnny Patrick got by two blockers to reach the ball and down it at the 1-yard line. Marcus Cromartie also was able to stop another ball near the goal line.
While the special teams practiced, offensive line coach Joe D’Allesandris found a white chalk line in the corner of the opposite end zone and worked with the centers. Even on Fan Fest, D’Allesandris refuses to waste a single moment of practice time.
Seven On Seven
The first team offense played with patience, using the full 40 seconds between plays. The starters ran only five plays, but all of them resulted in gains. Philip Rivers hooked up with Danario Alexander on three of his first four throws.
Rivers is having his best camp since 2010. There’s no denying that new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has something to do with it. After practice, Rivers spoke highly of his new coach.
“I’m excited to go to work every day. Early on, thinking about the change, it was a little tough,” Rivers said. “But once you get to know these guys and what they’re about, and knowing what we’re doing — we’re talking back to March, April, May – I was excited to work with him and it’s been great so far.”
The first, second and third teams all got in one simulated drive downfield. The first team looked exceptionally sharp on their home turf.
Ryan Mathews found a gaping hole on the right side thanks to D.J. Fluker and Jeromey Clary clearing traffic. Mathews cut his way up field and made his way all the way over to the left sideline before being caught after a 30-yard run.
Corey Liuget blew past Chad Rinehart and rushed Rivers into too long of a throw. Eric Weddle was in the right position to bring it in for his first interception of camp.
Eddie Royal caught the defense sleeping on a reverse play as he managed to get past Manti Te’o and several other defenders. Despite the rookie mistake, fellow ILB Bront Bird could not stop talking about how good Te’o has been in camp so far.
“A lot of times, as a rookie, you see guys struggle at least a little bit with the playbook, but I don’t know if he’s messed up a play yet,” said Bird of Te’o. “He’s been awesome so far.”
The first team scored on a touchdown to Malcom Floyd, who quickly got back to business and dunked the ball over the goal post.
The second team found similar success, moving downfield quickly under Charlie Whitehurst, who capped off the drive finding Chris Gronkowski at the 3-yard line, who then turned and made his way to the corner pylon of the end zone for the TD.
Vincent Brown sat out his sixth straight practice with a bad hamstring. He’s been running in practice, but it seems unlikely he will play in the first preseason game.
Jahleel Addae and Devan Walker sat out practice as well.
The play of the day was clearly Dan DePalma falling backwards to make an acrobatic touchdown catch on a ball from Brad Sorensen.
King Dunlap laid out Johnny Patrick. Dunlap blocked so hard he sent Patrick and himself to the ground.
Fan Fest did it’s job. The New York Yankees might been playing in San Diego for the first time since 2002, but the Chargers have the whole city talking football right now.
Marcus Cromartie’s last name. Cromartie has had a solid camp, but will the fans get over his last name already?
Whitehurst had Ronnie Brown on a deep route for what would have been a 30-yard touchdown, but Brown couldn’t hold on.
The cornerback position still continues to be the weakest link of this defense. Expect another great year against the run and mediocre year against the pass.