Chargers open training camp with offensive show
The Chargers kicked off the first training camp of the Mike McCoy era Thursday at Chargers Park. The new offense looked crisp and efficient but the defense is still finding its footing.
The offensive line plans on working hard to erase last year's struggles. Before practice got underway, the offensive line was already out on the field working on position drills. Has to be a good sign this unit is dedicated to improving.
Third-round pick Keenan Allen didn't participate in the NFL Combine due to a knee injury sustained last November. Despite only catching one of three balls thrown his way Thursday -- a victim of some poor throws -- the rook looked sharp and healthy.
Halfway through the drill, Philip Rivers jumped in for a couple reps. He wasted no time connecting with Vincent Brown on a 25-yard slant route. Brown, who missed all of last season with a broken ankle, was one of the top performers of the day.
Rivers and Danario Alexander picked up where they left off, completing a 45-yard touchdown over the top of newly signed CB Derek Cox’s head. This was the first of three long-bomb connections between Rivers and Alexander, who were in sync the entirety of practice.
Seven on Sevens
A healthy Shareece Wright and Cox lined up at cornerback, with third-year man Marcus Gilchrist making a transition from corner to safety. Wright was dominant all day, causing four incompletions. However, as a whole the secondary failed to impress. There was little they could do against an offense that caught nearly every ball put into the air.
Rivers went 2-for-4 during this drill, finding newly signed FB Chris Gronkowski for a quick 5-yard toss and then following it with a deep ball to Malcom Floyd, who used a height advantage to jump over the helpless Cox.
11 on 11
Rivers was only wearing one glove on his non-throwing hand today. He quickly went back to Alexander, hitting him for a quick 30 yards. Rivers finished the day without throwing a single interception. He completed all of his passes intended for Alexander and Antonio Gates. It looks like offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is already making visible improvements.
The crowd couldn't get over the immense size of King Dunlap who started at left tackle while first-round pick D.J. Fluker held down right tackle. Max Starks rotated in at left tackle but played with the second team for most of the day. Starks comes in with more experience and is favored to win the spot.
Ladarius Green spent last year learning under Gates and it seems to have paid off. Green was a major threat, catching two passes with the second unit. Green played in only four games last year, racking in 56 yards on just four receptions.
With the departure of Antonio Garay, Cam Thomas is expected to see a greater role. Thomas was responsible for the only stop in the backfield all day.
It's worth noting to end the final period of practice, Ryan Matthews was running with the second team. Mathews had a quiet first day back at practice.
Dwight Freeney seemed to settle in nicely with San Diego's 3-4. But he ran into Fluker on a blitz and Fluker straight up leveled him. Give credit to the rookie, who manhandled a seven-time Pro Bowler in front of a packed Chargers Park. But Freeney got up and hobbled to the sideline in visible pain. His leg was taped and by the end of practice he returned for several snaps.
Jonas Mouton finally got his chance to play at the end of last season, but his search for more action will have to wait. Mouton went down in the backfield and stayed down for a long time, having to be carted off the field with what appeared to be a serious right leg injury. The Chargers have already lost Melvin Ingram to an ACL injury.
1) Vincent Brown is healthy. Brown is poised to be a perfect middle-of-the-field receiver with underrated open-field speed. Rivers won't be throwing as many deep balls any more, so Brown has a chance to thrive under new coach Mike McCoy.
2) Starting this year's practices on the second team, Eddie Royal seems poised for a rebound year. He connected with backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst on a 35-yard catch. Royal impressed the crowd with multiple diving catches along the sideline throughout the day's drills.
3) Danny Woodhead worked the pitch-and-run effectively. He did a good job finding holes and making his way upfield. He could be that backfield threat the Chargers have been missing since Darren Sproles left town.
1) The 6-foot-5 rookie QB Mike Hermann was an imposing figure on the field, but struggled with accuracy. Completing just 3-of-8 passes, his throws were often erratic, sailing over his targets' heads or falling short into the ground.
2) During the pre-practice walkthroughs, Mathews fumbled a shovel pass thrown his way. But it was before practice so it doesn't count, right?
3) Mouton's injury is yet another in a historic string of injured Chargers linebackers. Mouton was already fighting for a roster spot. Things don’t look good for the former second-round pick.