Sunday, May 06, 2007
By Casey Pearce, Chargers.com
Photo Gallery: 2007 Mini Camp
In several meetings with new defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, defensive tackle Jamal Williams has grown to love the person. After his first weekend on the field with his new defensive play caller, Williams loves the coach, too.
“He’s got a really good sense of humor and is a great guy, but I’d never been on the field with him before this weekend,” Williams said. “When we put our helmets on, he was business. He’s been around this League a long time and is going to do a great job with us. It was good to get out there with all the new staff and really get this thing going.”
Williams’ thoughts on the team’s Mini Camp were echoed by many in the Chargers’ locker room. While the offensive and defensive systems haven’t changed much, many faces on the coaching staff have. The team’s first activity gave the players and the coaches a chance to get to know each other on a new level.
“The time together was great for our football team,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “I probably benefited from it as much as anybody, just being with the guys. Me getting to know the guys, getting them used out our coaching style and getting it done, that was great.”
The weekend allowed players and coaches to get on the same page, learn how each other learn and best receive instruction and get a feel for how practices will flow.
“Different coaches have different styles,” said cornerback Drayton Florence, who enjoyed his first weekend with Bill Bradley and Kevin Ross. “You learn to communicate and work together. It was a good weekend from that standpoint. We felt like we got a lot of good work done.”
One of Turner’s most pleasant observations from the weekend was his team’s hunger. From the first snap, he sensed a focused, coachable group that was ready to learn.
“When you see this team from afar, you know it’s very talented and you know there’s great ability on the team,” Turner said. “The things that jumped out at me were the attitude, the approach and the energy the group had. Obviously it’s a group that is highly, highly motivated. That makes it easy to coach.”
Wide receiver Craig Davis (groin) did not work Sunday. Turner said that he fully expects the team’s top draft pick to be ready to go when rookies report back for OCS’s later this month. Others missing Sunday’s practice included defensive end Derreck Robinson (foot), wide receiver Eric Parker (toe), safety Marlon McCree (knee), linebacker Shawne Merriman (illness) and running back Michael Turner (illness).
The Chargers had great weather and a great showing for their Mini Camp. Sunday’s practice drew 2,758 fans. More than 7,000 fans visited Chargers Park this weekend for the three practices.
Right back to work
The players will be back on the field Monday morning as the team begins its Offseason Coaching Sessions. Practices will be held Monday through Thursday. Rookies will not be available this week. Under NFL policy, they’re not allowed to join the club for OCS’s until May 15. OCS’s are not open to the public.
This week will allow the Chargers to build on what they did over the weekend and get a little more detailed.
“Our installation was a broad installation at first,” Turner said. “Each day we got a little more specific in terms of situations. Now these next four days with just the veterans, we’ll break it down to very detailed situations, personnel groupings, game situations and all the things that you need to cover.”
-During a special teams period Sunday, kicker Nate Kaeding was a perfect 6-for-6 on field goals, the longest coming from 38 yards. The drill was conducted on a set of uprights that is approximately half of regulation size, making the feat more impressive.
-Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna was a favorite target of Philip Rivers Sunday. He caught two touchdown passes during a red zone drill. Rookie tight end Scott Chandler also got involved in the passing game with a couple nice grabs during team period.
-With McCree down, second-round pick Eric Weddle spent Sunday’s practice working with the first team.
-Wide receiver Vincent Jackson received plenty of action throughout the weekend, making several tough catches down the middle of the field and the sideline.
“We’re really excited about Vincent,” Turner said. “He’s got great physical tools and he really had a good weekend.”
-Linebacker Tim Dobbins intercepted a pass during team drills and was all over the field throughout the weekend.
-David Lofton, son of Chargers wide receivers coach James Lofton, spent the weekend in Miami. The former Stanford safety was invited to the Dolphins’ Mini Camp.