Training Camp Postcard: Chargers
Posted: Friday August 3, 2007 11:48AM; Updated: Friday August 3, 2007 4:10PM
Where is Bucky?
At Chargers' Park in San Diego watching the Chargers work under the lights surrounded by 4,500 screaming fans. The Chargers have hosted their training camp at this facility since 2005, after spending two summers training at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
1. The Chargers' decision to hire former offensive coordinator Norv Turner has allowed them to pick up where Marty Schottenheimer's staff left off. Turner and defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell use similar systems to their predecessors and the team has clearly benefited from the continuity. By not having to adjust to different schemes and terminology, the Chargers have been able to focus solely on the tweaks and adjustments the new staff has incorporated into the existing scheme.
2. We know LaDainian Tomlinson will get at least 300 rushing attempts, but after observing seven-on-seven and team drills, I think he could have a bigger role in the passing game. Phillip Rivers repeatedly found Tomlinson open on option routes in the middle of the field, and the design of several of the patterns was clearly to create space for him in underneath coverage. With defenses geared up to stop Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, the Chargers face a big challenge in trying to find different ways to get their dynamic duo the ball.
Gates also appears to have an expanded role. The Chargers rolled out several formations that featured various shifts and motions designed to create one-on-one matchups for him in space. This is not a different approach, but the Chargers are placing an emphasis on getting Gates vertical in the passing game. I counted at least seven passes aimed in his direction that would result in gains of 20 yards or more.
3. Starting linebackers Stephen Cooper (eight career starts) and Matt Wilhelm (zero starts) are ready to make the jump from special team standouts to big-time starters. Both made spectacular hits during the 9-on-7 inside run drill and showed surprising rush skills during the team-blitz period. I questioned why the Chargers let Donnie Edwards go during the offseason, but after watching these guys work on the practice field, I understand why GM A.J. Smith has so much confidence in his replacements.