Call it the beginning of the end, call it 100 guys more or less playing two-hand touch in shorts, call it whatever you want, but just know that football is finally back in San Diego – for now.
That’s the last stadium reference I’ll make, I promise. We already cover that enough already. For the first time in months, we can actually focus on what the Chargers are doing on the field, as they held their first open Training Camp practice Thursday morning.
Let’s not bury the lede. Chargers first round draft pick Melvin Gordon looked very much how you’d expect him to look – a talented, physical specimen oozing potential, who looked lost at times. He seemed to be pressing on some his runs, had a tendency to try and bust the play to the outside rather than wait for blockers to set up lanes in the middle, but it was still apparent that he has the physical traits to succeed at the NFL level. He’s fast, he’s agile, he’s built, and he’s got a couple of moves in his bag – he just may not know how to put all of that together at this point.
As the Chargers were in just practice jerseys, helmets and shorts, it’s tough to get a read on some of the nitty gritty in the trenches. Still, the left side of the offensive line – left tackle King Dunlap and newly acquired left guard Orlando Franklin – was impressive. Together, they should be one of the more physically imposing duos in the league and when run lanes did open up on Thursday, it was due largely to those two. On the other side of the line Johnnie Troutman handled right guard responsibilities, while D.J. Fluker slid in next to him at right tackle with the first team. Joe Barksdale – another free agent addition – also saw time at right tackle. Interestingly, Fluker did not take snaps at right guard though.
Rivers worked under-center for a large portion of team drills, and it seemed that the team was trying to emphasize the run game throughout practice.
LaDarius Green was with the first team for a handful of snaps, and he and Gates shared the field on a couple of passing plays. Gates will miss the first four games of the season due to violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy for a failed drug test.
Again, it was tougher to evaluate some positions more than others given the nature of the practice. For instance, second round pick Denzel Perryman’s calling card is his ability to play the run, but with no pads on and no contact permitted, it’s tough to say exactly how he fared. At this point, it’s probably better for him that he didn’t stand out. The same goes for fellow inside linebackers Donald Butler and Manti Te’o, who ran with the first team.
Fifth round draft pick Kyle Emanuel, who played defensive end at North Dakota State, struggled a bit in pass coverage as he looked slow-footed in dropping into coverage.
In the secondary, second-year cornerback Jason Verrett demonstrated why he’s getting so much hype this offseason, as the former TCU defensive back closed extremely well on the ball, exploded out of his breaks, and had a particularly nice breakup on a Rivers slant pass intended for Keenan Allen.
Meanwhile, third round pick Craig Mager noticeably struggled at times in coverage. He gave receivers a lot of cushion and didn’t close well when the ball came his man’s way. Not a good combo.
Jahleel Addae and Eric Weddle were the first team safeties, while Jimmy Wilson and Darrell Stuckey ran with the twos. Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams backed up Verrett and Brandon Flowers at cornerback, while Chris Davis was with the third team, to round out the secondary.
Nose Tackle Ryan Carrethers was the only injury to speak of, as the second-year player went down with a cramp toward the end of the session.
Receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Davis – both of whom were not with the team last year- made a couple of nice grabs.
Overall, it was fairly sharp practice – albeit one with a noticeably slow tempo, especially toward the end.
+ This post was written by Mighty 1090 intern Jordan Lee with help from Editor-in-Chief John Gennaro.