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Monday, July 28, 2008

The Charger Update

— Many were surprised to see quarterback Billy Volek back with the team after he gained free agency after last season. But instead of going somewhere else with the possibility of starting, he returned as Philip Rivers’ backup. “I’ve seen quarterbacks before chase the money,” Volek said. “I didn’t want to be like that.” He didn’t do too bad staying put, thanks to a three-year $9 million deal.
— Quarterback Philip Rivers said he knows what to expect — and how difficult it is — to advance in the playoffs after last season’s run. But, that exposure to being deep in the playoffs can pay off. “I think the expectations are more of a reality now, more of what’s really expected,” Rivers said. “We have an understanding of what it really takes. We didn’t know what it was like to play in an AFC Championship Game. We didn’t know what it was like to go on the road and knock off the defending champs. But now we know. So when all these things come arising again — which we hope we get the opportunity again — then we’ve actually been through it.”
— The Chargers placed four players on the Physically Unable to Perform list: tight end Antonio Gates (toe) and center Nick Hardwick (foot) are recovering from offseason surgeries. Fullback Andrew Pinnock and inside linebacker Anthony Waters, are also on it, rebounding from knee surgeries.
“Obviously, it gives them a chance to get healthy,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said. “It’s really not a major deal. When they’re ready to go, we’ll take them off it and they’ll start practicing.”
Hardwick is the likeliest player to still be on the PUP list when the season begins. He said his foot is progressing well, but he has lost strength in his leg.
“I can’t give any predictions as to when I’ll be ready to actually play football,” Hardwick said. “I’m pushing hard and going as I can tolerate it.”
Gates said he expects to pass a physical by Aug. 30, which is required to leave the PUP list.
— Cornerback Antoine Cason, the team’s top pick who missed three rookie practices before signing his contract, got the usual ribbing when he got to camp.” All the guys in there were giving me a hard time about it,” Cason said. “Quentin Jammer gave me the hardest time. But it’s all fun. That’s just part of it.” Cason will soon learn the Chargers tradition of the top pick picking up a dinner and drinks tab for all the veterans near the end of camp.
— It doesn’t show up on the team’s injury report, but team president Dean Spanos had his left arm in a sling Friday after recently undergoing minor wrist surgery.
—Rookie running back Marcus Thomas is a fifth-round pick and lands on a team which has LaDainian Tomlinson. Tough luck? Maybe, but Norv Turner said keep an eye on someone trying to replace Michael Turner.
“If you put him down as a guy to watch, that would be good,” he said. “He’s got some real good running skills.”
QUOTE TO NOTE: “You learn that we’ve got to finish it. You get that far, you’ve got to finish. It don’t mean a can of beans if you don’t finish it.” - Left guard Kris Dielman on the bitter taste left after the Chargers fell in last season’s AFC Championship Game to the Patriots.
After being rebuffed in their attempts to trade Eric Parker, the wide receiver was cut on the eve of training camp.
For two years, Parker was the Chargers’ biggest outside threat. But he injured his toe before last season and was plopped on IR and missed the season.
Since Parker has last played the team traded for Chris Chambers and drafted Craig Davis in the first round. Along with the development of Vincent Jackson, Parker became expendable.
— DT Jamal Williams, entering his 11th season, will be used with caution this camp. He is coming off two knee surgeries and the team needs him starting in September, not now.
— QB Philip Rivers said at times he forgets which knee — his left — was the one rebuilt over the offseason. But he admits as camp wears on he is going to have to stay on top of it, as his legs get tired.
— WR Kassim Osgood squawked about wanting to be traded unless he became a bigger part of the passing game. But Osgood, a two-time Pro Bowl special-teamer selection, remains in San Diego well down the depth chart.
— What a difference a year makes for Darren Sproles. This time last year many thought the shifty running back and returning wouldn’t make the team. Now he is bringing back kicks and part of various offensive packages — especially on third down — and giving LaDainian Tomlinson an occasional breather.
— QB Charlie Whitehurst, the team’s No. 3 quarterback, remains a favorite of the coaching staff and front office despite Billy Volek, Rivers’ backup, being signed to a three-year deal in the offseason.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Antoine Cason vs. Paul Oliver for the nickel back role on passing downs. Cason has hit the ground running in his quest to snag a significant spot in passing situations. Oliver is in his second year and could put up a fight - the brass secretly hopes Cason is the guy. Oliver is also getting some work at free safety.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Darren Sproles vs. Jacob Hester vs. Marcus Thomas for the No. 2 running back role. We know this — LaDainian Tomlinson isn’t competing against anyone. But behind him is quite a tussle as these three try to replace one guy — Michael Turner, who left as a free agent for Atlanta. There’s a chance Sproles and Hester will share this job, depending to some degree on the down and the distance. Thomas has to prove he’s a viable candidate. So far, Sproles and Hester are in the lead.
Jeromey Clary vs. L.J. Shelton for right tackle. Clary started the second half last year when Shane Olivea’s game dropped off. And by most accounts, Clary held his ground. But the team signed the veteran Shelton just in case, and has positioned him at right tackle to see if he can beat out Clary, or at the very least, push him to greater heights. Shelton started 16 games last year in Miami.
ROOKIE REPORT: CB Antoine Cason is making up for any lost time by practicing well. … RB/FB Jacob Hester has been impressive, but the team is really curious to see him now that practices will start including pads. … RB Marcus Thomas is probably not ready to back up LaDainian Tomlinson, but that could eventually be his role. … CB DeJuan Tribble is basically playing to get on film for other teams. … T Corey Clark’s best bet is to land on the practice squad.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Training camp is finally here!

SAN DIEGO: Training camp is finally here, but the San Diego Chargers seem to have learned the difference between hype and reality.
Even if they are good enough to get to the Super Bowl, they vow not to talk about it this summer.
"There was so much hype last year, and so much expectation, and all training camp it was 'Super Bowl,' and we weren't afraid to talk about it," quarterback Philip Rivers said Friday after the Chargers held their first full-squad practice of training camp.
"I fell in that trap, too. Not that we weren't focused, but it seemed like all the focus was on the ultimate goal. Subconsciously, we took some things for granted, maybe. Maybe we overlooked the meat and potatoes part of the deal, you know what I mean? We were looking ahead for the dessert."
Last summer, the Chargers overlooked their playoff pratfall against New England and focused instead on their 14-2 regular-season record from 2006. OK, so they did end up making it all the way to the AFC championship game in January before losing 21-12 to the Patriots. But things sure looked bleak when they started 1-3 and 5-5 in Norv Turner's first season as coach.
Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman doesn't buy the talk in some circles that it's the Chargers' turn to win it all.
"To tell you the truth, I don't think it's anybody's turn," Merriman said. "You know, it's how hard you work for it, and in our case, finishing up how we want to finish. They always say the team that almost gets there last year should win it the next year. That's all good, but for us, we just look at it as something we've got to do."
Expectations could be higher for the Chargers this year, provided that Rivers, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, tight end Antonio Gates and center Nick Hardwick all come back strong from injuries.
"It's tough, because whenever you look around at this team and see the kind of players we have, the first thing you want to say is 'Oh, this team's going to the Super Bowl,'" Merriman said. "But that's what started us 1-3 last year, because we came into the season after a 14-2 season the season before, automatically assuming we were going to the Super Bowl. We're thinking the opposite this year. We're taking it one game at a time and having a faster start."
In January, the Chargers won a playoff game for the first time in 13 years, beating Tennessee in the wild-card round. Then they eliminated defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis on the road, although that victory was costly because Rivers and Tomlinson both sustained knee injuries. Rivers played in the AFC title game despite having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee six days earlier, but Tomlinson had only two carries before his sprained left knee forced him out.
Rivers had ligament replacement surgery three days after the loss to the Patriots. Tomlinson's injury didn't require surgery.
Rivers thinks the Chargers can handle the expectations better this year.
"Again, we have an understanding of what it really takes. We didn't know what it takes to play in an AFC championship game. We didn't know what it's like to go on the road and knock off the defending champs. But now we know, so when all these things come arising again, which we hope we get the opportunity again, then we've actually been through it. We're not just feeling our way through it. You know what it's going to be like. We'll have a clue."
The Chargers won their last six regular-season games and two straight in the playoffs.
Rivers said his knee "feels better than I could have imagined it. It's going to be really key to keep staying on top of it. I've been told by many people that know the deal that it's going to get tired if you let it. It's the strength. It'll run out of gas quicker. Just keep filling up the tank."
Tomlinson said his knee is fine.
"The only expectation we have is to play as good as we can," said Tomlinson, the two-time NFL rushing champion. "And we know that if we do that, we'll be in good shape."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cason finally agrees to five year deal!!!

Antoine Cason will be a Charger when the full squad practices for the first time tomorrow morning.
The Chargers have agreed to terms on a five-year contract with their first-round draft pick. The former University of Arizona star will receive a little more than $6 million guaranteed and slightly more than $12 million over the life of the deal.
Cason missed three days of workouts, which consisted almost exclusively of rookies. The Chargers and Cason's representatives expressed confidence throughout the negotiations that they would get a deal done before tomorrow.
Cason spent the spring working out in coaching sessions at the Chargers facility and learning the defense. He will compete immediately with Paul Oliver and Cletis Gordon for the third cornerback spot. The likelihood is that Cason spends 2008 in defensive substitution packages and as a special teams contributor.
Only 10 other first-round picks have signed throughout the league. Cason is the first pick between Nos. 19 and 29 to agree to terms.
Cason has been in town working out with some of his veteran teammates. He is expected to sign the contract this afternoon.
Veterans have until midnight to report and the first full-squad workout of training camp is at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. The first practice open to the public is 4 p.m. tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rivers runs his mouth, Chargers like what they hear

(Fox sports): There may be a new face of the San Diego Chargers.

One whose lips don't stop moving.

During the Chargers' first training camp practice Monday, quarterback Philip Rivers shouted good-natured encouragement toward injured players in rehabilitation drills a football field away. He chatted with the media afterward about his speedy rehabilitation from off-season knee surgery. He even spotted tight end Antonio Gates in the locker room doing the last of a series of interviews and chided, "You're going through it big time on day one. Gosh!"
The Chargers regard such loquaciousness as one of Rivers' most endearing qualities.
"The way he's able to communicate with his players, he doesn't act like a typical quarterback," said Gates, who has watched Rivers blossom over the past two seasons since becoming a starter. "Some quarterbacks can be like, 'I'm only going to speak to the guys that are good.' He interacts with everybody.
"For you to interact with a guy on the practice squad, that says a lot about your character and leadership abilities. He knows how to lead a team."
And how to aggravate others.
As his play has improved, so has Rivers' propensity for verbal altercations. He taunted Denver quarterback Jay Cutler from the sideline last December toward the end of a 23-3 Chargers rout, prompting Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey to tell the Rocky Mountain News that Rivers talks "too much trash."
Rivers was at it again three weeks later in a second-round playoff game at Indianapolis, jawing with Colts fans sitting behind the Chargers bench and those jeering as he left the field with a knee injury. Even the Chargers brain trust of coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith believe those antics were unnecessary.
"He's got to use better judgment," Turner said. "He doesn't have to be yelling at people in the stands. That was an unusual circumstance. But he's a competitive guy. I think that's one of the things that gets him and our guys going."
Rivers told that he was sorry about what happened in Indianapolis but isn't about to apologize for a mouth that sometimes roars. The 26-year-old son of a fiery Alabama high school football coach, Rivers joked about his interaction with college fans who chanted "Arena Ball" while he played at North Carolina State.
"You can look at it two ways," he said. "You can't always worry about what everyone thinks. But at the same time, I wasn't trying to be blind to what it does appear to be. Certainly, you've got to be smart with your actions. There's nothing I regret. Being excited and having a good time, if you can't do that, we shouldn't be playing.
"There's a boundary to it. Ultimately, the question is whether it's a distraction to you or your teammates. As long as it's not and you can keep it to the confines of what we're doing, enjoy it and play."
Playing is what silenced some of Rivers' critics.Rivers started in last season's AFC Championship game loss to New England despite having suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament against the Colts. It wasn't one of Rivers' best performances (19-of-37 passing with two interceptions and no touchdowns) but he won universal respect for competing with what is normally a debilitating injury.
"People are saying, 'I like Philip Rivers. I couldn't stand him before that, but for him to get out there and play, it shows guts,' " Gates said. "Seeing somebody out there with a brace playing his heart out and throwing passes with a torn ACL, they've got so much respect for him now."
Conversely, star running back LaDainian Tomlinson removed himself from the game early because of a sore knee. Tomlinson, a future Hall of Famer, deserves credit for shelving his ego when feeling ineffective. But with Rivers playing through his injury and Tomlinson ultimately not even requiring surgery, has the leadership mantle been passed inside the Chargers locker room?
"People are starting to debate whether (Rivers) is the face of this team now based on that performance," Gates acknowledged. "It's still outsiders. Outsiders see the situation and say, 'He didn't play and he did. We're going to make him the face.' But still, we understand why (Tomlinson didn't play). We're not going to let outsiders come into this family and (debate) why he's not playing."
Rivers awoke from his ACL surgery with his right leg already in a motion machine. While he is wearing a black metal brace, Rivers' rehabilitation has gone so well that he isn't expected to miss any preseason practice time.
That will give Rivers a chance to better his strong finish in 2007. Over the season's final nine games (including the playoffs), Rivers completed 60.6 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Chargers won eight of those contests before falling to the Patriots.
Such improvement stemmed from a combination of factors: Rivers growing increasingly comfortable with Turner's play-calling style in their first season together, quicker decision-making, the addition of wide receiver Chris Chambers via trade from Miami and the maturation that comes with being a second-year starter who spent 2004 and 2005 as Drew Brees' backup.
Basically, Rivers is becoming everything Smith envisioned when acquiring him and two picks (including a first-rounder) from the New York Giants in exchange for fellow quarterback Eli Manning on draft day in 2004 .
"He's made leaps and bounds both in his play and experience," Smith said. "He's somebody you can win a Super Bowl with."
That would speak louder than any words.

Chargers interested in building a double decker waterfront stadium

(CBS) : Will San Diego vote for blue collar jobs, or Chargers blue and gold? That's what it could come down to this November. Local developers have an initiative on the ballot to build a double deck waterfront terminal big enough for a football stadium, but opponents says jobs could be lost on the waterfront.The 10th Avenue Marine Terminal is just a short distance from Petco Park. It's run by the San Diego Port Authority. For more than 50 years, the terminal has handled basic cargo. Now, voters will determine if the waterfront property will be transformed into a modern multi-purpose facility, with the possibility of a football stadium."What we're proposing to do is to modernize from current standards so that additional maritime activity could occur at this site," Peter Gallagher of San Diego Community Solutions said.Gallagher is one of the developers of San Diego Community Solutions, who sponsoredThe project known as the Port of San Diego Marine Freight Preservation and Bay Front Redevelopment Initiative.Voters from National City, Chula Vista, Imperial, Coronado and San Diego will determine if the terminal will be transformed into a double-decker structure, while maintaining existing and expanding maritime operations.But on top of the 40-foot deck, there could be hotels, restaurants and even a sports stadium."We're not proposing a specific use to go on that upper deck, it can be a stadium," Gallagher said.Gallagher says, Mark Fabriani, the Chargers' legal counsel, is interested."His reaction was that the Chargers need to take a hard look at this is something that has strong interest," he said.The upper deck stadium would be big enough to hold a Super Bowl game. But the $2 billion project doesn't score a touchdown with everyone. The Port District says such an engineering feat would be wholly infeasible no matter how it is constructed. Others object at the prospect of lost jobs. They say the proposal could constrain future growth at the terminal."There's a lot of people in the community saying that this will eliminate maritime freight," Gallagher said.But he counters, "If we don't pursue maritime freight, this project doesn't get built."The development company says no public money would be used, and its revenue will be from leases. Mark Fabriani told News 8 that while there are many steps to be taken before this project is finalized, the Charges want to stay in San Diego and would take a hard look at this option.

Wide reciever Eric Parker has been released

Source: Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP)—The Chargers released wide receiver Eric Parker on Wednesday, two days before their first full-squad practice.
The Chargers had been trying to trade Parker before veterans reported to camp Thursday night. Parker missed all of last season with a toe injury and became expendable after Chris Chambers was acquired in a midseason trade with Miami.
“We just decided to move on in another direction and wish him the best,” general manager A.J. Smith said. “We tried to make some trades—things did not materialize.”
Parker caught 187 passes for 2,586 yards and 11 touchdowns in parts of five seasons for the Chargers. He injured his right big toe during a minicamp practice 13 months ago and underwent surgery last August to fix a cracked bone. He was expected to be healthy in October but the toe didn’t respond and he missed the season.
Coach Norv Turner said the timing of Parker’s release works out for all parties.
“It gives him an opportunity to get with someone,” Turner said. “We obviously had talked to different teams to see if there was an interest, and looking at our situation, eventually they knew this would happen.
“Now I’m sure he’s going to get an opportunity to go play somewhere else.”
Parker had a career-high 57 receptions in 2005 and caught 152 passes from 2004-06. In his final game with the Chargers, Parker made a costly miscue, fumbling a punt in a playoff loss to New England. The Patriots took advantage by scoring a field goal in a game they rallied to win by three points.

Castillo gets $43 million in 5-year extension

Source: Associated Press
By Bernie Wilson
SAN DIEGO (AP)—Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo has agreed to a five-year contract extension through 2014 valued at more than $43 million.
The deal, announced Tuesday, will pay Castillo a guaranteed $17.5 million in signing and roster bonuses.
Castillo’s contract had been due to expire after the 2009 season.
“Since his arrival, Luis has played a huge role in the success we’ve had as a defense,” general manager A.J. Smith said in a statement. “He’s an ascending player who is committed to getting better.”
Castillo was the second of the Chargers’ two first-round draft picks in 2005. He has 13 sacks in 36 career games, including 33 starts.

Gates testing the waters

SAN DIEGO (AP)—Chargers tight end Antonio Gates tested his surgically repaired left big toe Monday at training camp and said it’s about 65 to 70 percent healed.
While rookies and select veterans opened camp, Gates went through a 45-minute workout on a side field. He tested the toe by running and cutting.
Gates was hurt in a wild-card playoff win against Tennessee and then played against Indianapolis and New England despite being in obvious pain. He underwent surgery in late-February to repair what he said was a tear in the plantar plate.
“Obviously, it’s a process,” Gates said. “I’m a lot better than I felt a month ago. I can say that. I have no determinant on when and how fast I’ll be coming back. But right now, I feel good. It’s a little sore, but it’s tolerable.”Gates said it was too early to know whether he’ll be ready for the season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 7. Monday was the third time Gates tested the foot by running, and saw progress when comparing the session to the other two workouts.
“The first time I went out there, I wasn’t able to finish the workout,” Gates said. “The second time, I finished it, but I was really, really sore. Now it’s to the point where I can finish the workout and the next day it will be a little bit sore. As it continues to go on and the progress continues, hopefully I can just get through a workout and feel really good the next day.”
Gates caught 75 passes for 984 yards and nine touchdowns last regular season.
Quarterback Philip Rivers, who played hurt in the AFC championship game, said he’s fully recovered from the torn anterior cruciate ligament that required surgery.
“I’ve been going full-go now for over a month,” Rivers said. “There’s nothing I can’t do. There are times throughout the day I can’t tell which knee I hurt.”
In other injury news, Turner said center Nick Hardwick is making progress from offseason foot surgery, but is a candidate to be placed on the physically unable to perform list. If he were placed on that list and not removed before the start of the season, he would be required to sit out the first six games of the regular season.
Receiver Eric Parker, who missed all of last season with a toe injury, wasn’t at the team complex Monday and his tenure with the Chargers could end within the next couple of days.
“If we have any developments regarding Eric, we’ll let you know immediately,” Smith said.

Cason doubts he’ll be in Chargers camp on time

Source: Associated Press
By Bernie Wilson
SAN DIEGO (AP)—Chargers first-round draft pick Antoine Cason remained unsigned Sunday night and didn’t sound optimistic he’d be at the first practice of training camp.
“I’m not sure. It doesn’t look like it as of now,” Cason said by phone. “I don’t know.”
“I mean, we’re we were making progress, of course,” said Cason, a cornerback from Arizona who went to the Chargers with the 27th overall pick. “I’ve kind of just heard little details of it from my agent. I just control what I can control, my play on the field.”
Cason is the Chargers’ only draft pick who hasn’t agreed to a deal. Rookies and selected veterans reported Sunday night and were scheduled to hold their first practice at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
Agent Ron Slavin said in an e-mail there was “no news to report.”
General manager A.J. Smith didn’t immediately return phone calls, and team negotiator Ed McGuire didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment.
Cason, who played at Arizona, was at his apartment in San Diego and would be able to get to camp quickly once a deal is reached.
The Chargers have had a history of failing to get their first-round picks into camp on time.
LaDainian Tomlinson had a long holdout in 2001, Quentin Jammer missed all of training camp in 2002 and Philip Rivers held out for the first four weeks in 2004. Shawne Merriman missed the first week of camp the following year and Antonio Cromartie missed the first two practices in 2006.
Last summer, the Chargers’ entire draft class agreed to deals before the start of camp, the first time that happened since 1997. First-rounder Craig Davis wasn’t even the last to sign in 2007—that distinction belonged to second-rounder Eric Weddle.
“That’s the most difficult thing to get through, of course, is the business side of it,” Cason said. “You never know what can happen. It’s a big difference in that way, not being able to show up the first day because of the business side.
“I’ve been keeping calm, keeping my cool. Really, I’m just trying to keep working out, not letting it affect me.”

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Two down, one to go!

Source:Associated Press

Rookies Jacob Hester and DeJuan Tribble agreed to contract terms with the San Diego Chargers on Friday.
That leaves cornerback Antoine Cason, the team's first-round draft pick, as the Chargers' only unsigned player.
Hester and Tribble both agreed to four-year contracts. Hester, a running back from LSU, was picked in the third round. Tribble, a cornerback from Boston College, was chosen in the sixth round.
Hester rushed for 1,103 yards and 12 touchdowns for LSU last season. The Chargers traded two draft picks, including a second-round choice in next year's draft, to New England to get the pick they used on Hester.
Tribble had 15 career interceptions, the third most in Boston College historyCason, selected 27th overall from Arizona, was one of five cornerbacks selected in the first round.
Chargers' rookies are scheduled to report to training camp Sunday night and practice for the first time on Monday morning. The team's first full-squad practices will be held next Friday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fred Dean headed for Chargers Hall of Fame

Chargers defensive end Fred Dean achieves the NFL's highest alter when he is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 2 in Canton, Ohio. But Dean isn't looking past another special day for him when he returns to San Diego a couple of weeks before his trip to Canton.
Chargers President Dean Spanos announced today that the top pass rusher of his era will be inducted in the Chargers Hall of Fame. Spanos will make the announcement when the Bolts host Sports at Lunch at 11:30 a.m. today at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park."The Chargers Hall of Fame is a great honor for me," Dean said from his home in Louisiana. "So many of my teammates have made it into the Chargers Hall of Fame, and now I get to join them. It's very touching to me."The Chargers will officially induct Dean as their lone 2008 inductee at halftime when the team play the New England Patriots on Sunday night, Oct. 12 at Qualcomm Stadium. Dean's name and number will be added to those names that ring the stadium."I can't really describe what it's like to go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Chargers Hall of Fame in the same year," Dean said. "It's like having the best of both worlds."As a member of the Chargers Hall of Fame, Dean joins 12 members of the Air Coryell Chargers previously inducted.That group includes quarterback Dan Fouts (1993), former Grambling wide receiver Charlie Joiner (1993), head coach Don Coryell (1994), offensive tackle Russ Washington(1995), tight end Kellen Winslow (1995), kicker Rolf Benirschke (1997), defensive tackle Gary Johnson (1999), offensive guard Doug Wilkerson(2000), wide receiver Wes Chandler (2001), defensive tackle Louie Kelcher (2003), center Don Macek (2004) and offensive guard Ed White(2004)."Those teams had a family bond," Dean said. "Especially the guys I played in the defensive line - Louie Kelcher, Wilbur Young, Charles DeJurnett, Gary Johnson and Leroy Jones. And guys on the offensive line like Russ Washington and Doug Wilkerson to name a couple. Those are the guys I remember when I think about the Chargers. There was good competition between the offensive and defensive lines."Dean played for the Chargers as a 230-pound defensive end from 1975 to 1981. Although he was undersized for the position, he beat offensive tackles to get to the quarterback with his quickness and exceptional strength for a man his size.Dean, now 56, returned home to Louisiana after his playing days and is an associate minister at New Hebron Baptist Church in Arcadia.He joined the Chargers as a second-round draft pick in 1975 out of Louisiana Tech. He was drafted as an outside linebacker, but since he played defensive end in college, he told the Chargers' coaches he wasmore comfortable with his hand on the ground as a defensive end.Tommy Prothro and his staff subsequently returned Dean to defensive end. Although sacks didn't become an official NFL statistic until 1982, if numbers from the defensive stats compiled by teams are used, Dean iscredited with 100 sacks in 141 games in his career with the Chargers and San Francisco 49ers.In 1978, when Coryell replaced Prothro early in the season and led the Chargers to a winning record, Dean recorded 15.5 sacks. He had nine in 1979 and 10.5 in 1980 when the Chargers won AFC West titles, includingadvancing to the AFC Championship game in the 1980 season.Dean was traded to the 49ers early in the 1981 season when he was locked in a contract dispute with the late Gene Klein, who owned the team until Alex Spanos purchased the franchise in 1984.Dean's most productive season was 1983 when he finished with 17.5 sacks, including six in a game against the New Orleans Saints. He helped the 49ers win two Super Bowl titles in Super Bowl XVI and Super Bowl XIX."Those Chargers players I played with deserved to win a Super Bowl," Dean said. "But the ball bounced the wrong way and it didn't work out for us.”At the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies, Dean's Class of 2008 includes Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, Redskins wide receiver Art Monk, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Emmitt Thomas, New England Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett and Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Gary Zimmerman.The Pro Football Hall of Famers from the Chargers that Dean is joining in Canton are Fouts, Joiner, Lance Alworth, Sid Gillman, Ron Mix and Kellen Winslow."It's hard for me when the Chargers and 49ers play," Dean said. "It's like a father watching two sons playing against each other. But even if I didn't get a Super Bowl ring with the Chargers, it was a good feeling for all of us playing on those Chargers teams."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tomlinson preparing for dream season

Source: Yahoo Sports

LaDainian Tomlinson is ready for a dream season. That would be in stark contrast to how his last one ended on a cold day in New England.
“It was a nightmare,” Tomlinson said. “You just want it over as quick as possible.”
The Chargers would love a quick return trip to the AFC Championship Game after falling short against the Patriots last January. To do so, they need a healthy Tomlinson. It looks like they have it.
Tomlinson’s day was cut short when he aggravated a sprained knee against the Patriots. He caught some flak for sitting on the bench for the game, huddled against the elements and trying to stiff-arm disappointment instead of rival tacklers.
When the games start this season, the memory of a battered and bummed Tomlinson on the sidelines will fade.
But Tomlinson’s memory is long and he won’t forget the verbal abuse sent his direction for not trying to re-enter the game—although he was hurt.
Coach Norv Turner knows how Tomlinson feels. Turner was blasted when taking over for the Chargers as their head coach before last year. That criticism gathered momentum when the team started 1-3.
“When someone says something and it is fair, it doesn’t bother you,” said Turner, of Tomlinson’s detractors. “But when someone says something that you don’t think it is fair, you would probably consider the source and he probably has a different opinion of some of the people that questioned him than he did before.”
Turner speculated Tomlinson’s psyche was hurt that day as well.
“Hey, I don’t care what the injury is, it’s mental, too,” Turner said. “You’re fighting to go to the Super Bowl and he had been playing for that game for seven years and all of sudden you are knocked out of the game. He is human.”
Quarterback Philip Rivers gets grief for showing his human side when he jaws with opponents and fans. Rivers said much was made about nothing when Tomlinson was sitting on the bench on a day when the temperature was in the single digit.
“Any time they catch something they will run with it and something gets all blown out and I thought that was the case there,” Rivers said. “They panned over to him when he was sitting on the sidelines—it was zero degrees and we were on defense—and we were all sitting there for the most part.
“He was up, encouraging the guys when we were out there on offense. It wasn’t like it was a bright, sunny day and he was sitting there with his helmet on.”
It’s “game on” for Tomlinson and the Chargers—neither can wait to start a journey they hope takes them back to a place where they were just four quarters shy of a Super Bowl.
Camp Calendar: Rookies and selected veterans report July 20 and have a practice the next day. The full squad reports July 24 and practices on July 25. The Chargers break training camp Aug. 23.
Notes, Quotes
• Former Chargers S Terrence Kiel, 27, was killed in a one-car accident on July 4. Kiel was a former second-round pick of the team before being released before last season because of numerous incidents with police.
• WR Legedu Naanee is looking to expand on his rookie learning experience. “This time around I know not just the route, but also the adjustment to it and what the guy next to me is doing. Knowing all that helps.”
• Kudos to the Spanos family—which owns the Chargers—for footing the bill once again for the San Diego High School all-star football game.
• CB Antoine Cason was among the rookies taking part in the NFL’s symposium recently at La Costa Resort and Spa—the league’s version of scaring the rookies straight. “It’s just an eye-opener and it makes you start thinking about different situations more and more,” said the Chargers’ top pick. “Sometimes, it gets you speechless.”
Quote To Note: “They let us know what can happen if you’re in bad situation and that is the biggest key.”—CB Antoine Cason on the lessons he learned at the NFL Rookie Symposium.
Strategy And Personnel
The Chargers’ roster is set and they don’t anticipate making any significant changes this close to camp.
Instead, they are more worried about the injured players on their roster and how quickly they can bounce back from some pretty serious injuries,
If there are setbacks, the club could look to bring in more insurance at tight end, fullback and along the offensive line. But for now, the team is hopeful it has built a roster which will lead it to its second Super Bowl in franchise history.
Quarterback: Starter—Philip Rivers. Backups—Billy Volek, Charlie Whitehurst.
The Chargers will take the Rivers who did so well in last season’s second half, thank you very much. Rivers experienced a bit of a sophomore slump in his second year as a starter early on, then came on down the stretch. In the eight-game winning streak which led to the AFC Championship Game, Rivers threw for 14 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Volek turned down offers to compete for a starting job elsewhere to return as the backup. The team remains high on Whitehurst and likely would have been comfortable with him backing up Rivers if Volek would have exited.
Running Backs: Starter—LaDainian Tomlinson. Backups—Andrew Pinnock, Jacob Hester.
Tomlinson is healthy and entering the season with a chip on his shoulder—bad news for opposing defenses. Tomlinson, who is aiming for this third straight NFL rushing title, was piled on pretty good when getting hurt in the AFC title tilt. Many thought he did try hard enough to enter the game; his strained knee told him otherwise. But he is fit and motivated, knowing the window for him and the Chargers closer to being shut than flung wide open. The team will miss Michael Turner, Tomlinson’s stellar backup. They hope Pinnock can fill the void, but he is coming off a serious knee operation. Lorenzo Neal, the Pro Bowl fullback, wasn’t brought back. His role figures to be filled by Pinnock and Hester, a rookie.
Tight Ends: Starters—Antonio Gates, Brandon Manumaleuna. Backups—Scott Chandler.
This area is usually one of strength for the Chargers but the uncertainty over Gates’ toe injury raises a red flag. Gates is a tough guy, but it might be asking too much even for him to rebound in time for the opener. That could give Manumaleuna more chances at catching the football instead of blasting open lanes for Tomlinson. Chandler is in his second year and seems capable, but he is unproven.
Wide Receivers: Starters—Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson. Backups—Craig Davis, Legedu Naanee, Malcom Floyd, Eric Parker.
Chambers gave the offense a huge lift when he came over last year from the Dolphins. He has the ability to stretch the defense, which gives Tomlinson and Gates more room to run on the rushes and underneath routes. Jackson was among the benefactors as well with defenses leaning their coverage toward Chambers, which gave Jackson more opportunities. Davis is battling consistency problems, but figures to be in the mix as well. Keep an eye on the versatile Naanee as Norv Turner has him lining up at various spots to take advantage of his considerable skills. Floyd’s time is now or never; Parker could be moved before training camp, caught in a numbers crunch.
Offensive Line: Starters—LT Marcus McNeill, LG Kris Dielman, C Nick Hardwick, RG Mike Goff, RT Jeromey Clary. Backups—Jeremy Newberry, L.J. Shelton, Cory Withrow, Scott Mruczkowski.
Hardwick is critical to the line and the offense. The team elected to wait until the offseason was well underway to have his toe surgery; it had hoped rest would cure it. So with Hardwick’s availability unknown, the team could trot out Newberry on opening day. The team was pleased with the way Clary came on when starter Shane Olivea fizzled last year, but it is protecting itself by snagging the veteran Shelton. Dielman has been a monster in the weight room this offseason and could be headed for a Pro Bowl season. Goff could be in his final year with the Chargers, but his experience can’t be overlooked. McNeill has made two Pro Bowls in two years—enough said.
Defensive Line: Starters—LE Igor Olshansky, NT Jamal Williams, RE Luis Castillo. Backups—T Ryon Bingham, T Brandon McKinney, E Jacques Cesaire.
Williams is the key here as rival lines can’t dedicate just one man to block him—he is too strong. So with so much attention paid to Williams, Olshansky and Castillo are able to provide a solid push off the edges; Olshansky is more of a run-stuffer while Castillo’s quickness allows him to reach the pocket. But Williams’ is getting long in the tooth, so expect to see plenty of Bingham and McKinney in a rotation to try and keep Williams fresh. Jacques Cesaire often comes in on passing downs and is an able fill-in when Castillo—he has a tough time staying on the field—gets hurt.
Linebackers: Starters—OLB Shaun Phillips, ILB Stephen Cooper, ILB Matt Wilhelm, OLB Shawne Merriman. Backups—Derek Smith, Marques Harris, Carlos Polk, Brandon Siler, Tim Dobbins, Anthony Waters, Jyles Tucker.
Merriman and Phillips give the Chargers a 1-2 pass-rush combination that is among the league’s best. Merriman gets most the headlines—rightfully so—but don’t overlook Phillips. Both of them often end up in the pocket, where they combined for 21 sacks. Cooper is out the first month serving a suspension, so Smith will hold down his spot. Wilhelm is solid and is developing into a team leader. Harris and Tucker can be forces on passing downs and the Chargers aren’t shy about using them.
Defensive Backs: Starters—LCB Quentin Jammer, RCB Antonio Cromartie, SS Clinton Hart, FS Eric Weddle. Backups—CB Antoine Cason, CB Steve Gregory, CB Cletis Gordon, Paul Oliver.
Cromartie had a breakthrough season last year, leading the NFL with 10 interceptions and scoring touchdowns in three different ways. He should only get better, although teams might be more reluctant to throw his way. Jammer is coming off his second consecutive solid season; he’s not reluctant to give plenty of help in the run support as well. Hart is entering his second season as a starter after setting career highs in numbers categories last year. The team is high on Weddle, who they traded up to snag in the second round two years ago. Weddle is a smart player not prone to many mental mistakes. Cason could be tested as the nickel back and there are some depth concerns here. But the starters—especially on the corners—are spot-on.
Special Teams: Starters—K Nate Kaeding, P Mike Scifres, LS David Binn, PR/KR Darren Sproles.
Kaeding is consistent and healthy going into the season after his plant leg was fractured late last year. Scifres is always among the NFL’s leaders in net-average return and he’s among the reasons the Chargers are so good on third downs. If a play isn’t there for a first down, Rivers knows he doesn’t have to force something: just let Scifres punt it away, get the field position back and play on. Sproles is electric with his quickness and had two returns for touchdowns last year. Binn is long in the tooth, but he’s an institution for the Chargers, missing just one game—in 1998—having played in 223 regular-season games with San Diego.

Dean Spanos to announce Chargers Hall of Fame Inductee

(PHOTO) - Jim Steeg (right), Chief Operating Officer of the Chargers, presented to Steve Perry, president and executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the jersey and helmet that Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson wore and the football he carried when he scored his 29th touchdown of the season to break the NFL record for touchdowns in a season. LT, the NFL MVP in 2006, finished the year with 31 touchdowns. His game memorabilia was donated for display at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Photo

San Diego Chargers President Dean Spanos will announce the team's 2008 inductee into the Chargers Hall of Fame at Sports at Lunch on Tuesday, July 15 at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park. Chargers radio analyst Hank Bauer will serve as the moderator. The 2008 inductee will speak and answer questions along with other members of the Chargers Hall of Fame.The Chargers will officially induct their '08 selectee at halftime when the Bolts play the New England Patriots on Sunday night, Oct. 12 at Qualcomm Stadium. The 2008 inductee's name and number will be added to those that ring the stadium.WHAT: Sports at Lunch with the Chargers Hall of Fame inductee.WHEN: Tuesday, July 15. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Check-in begins at 11:15 a.m. and program at noon.WHERE: Center Court at the Hall of Champions, 2131 Pan American Plaza in Balboa Park.RESERVATIONS: Admission is $25 for members and $30 for non-members. The Hall of Champions is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization and tickets are tax deductible. For reservations, call the HOC events department at 619-699-2309. Call the Events Department at 619-699-2309.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Can the Oakland Raiders defeat the San Diego Chargers?....hahaha

In the fall, the area around Oakland County Coliseum turns into a convention of wistful optimism, where hope springs eternal.

With the start of every football season since 2002, when the Raiders embarrassed themselves in the Super Bowl, the optimists have come out in full force, believing that their Raiders can once again finish the season atop the AFC West,

This year is no different.

The pie-in-the sky harbingers of hope are at it once again in Oakland.

But once October rolls into November, reality rears its ugly head in the form of a runaway freight train known as the San Diego Chargers.

If there is one difference this year, it’s that the freight train will be running on suspect wheels. Some of the Chargers key players have undergone surgeries and are still rehabbing.

Philip Rivers gained the respect of all of his teammates, not to mention his critics, for his courageous playoff stand. Rivers tore his right ACL in the Chargers' AFC Divisional playoff win at Indianapolis. He had minor surgery on the knee before the AFC Championship Game against the undefeated New England Patriots, but he played anyway.

He again had surgery on the knee in the offseason, and is expected to be fully recovered by the start of the season. But you never know with knees and ACLs.

His backfield mate, NFL star running back, LaDainian Tomlinson chose not to play in the AFC Championship Game and had MCL surgery. He, too, is supposed to be ready for the season opener. But will he still have that incredible burst that has made him a future Hall of Famer?

The Chargers also lost two other key members of their backfield—fullback Lorenzo Neal and Tomlinson’s backup, Michael Turner. The Chargers released Neal in the hopes that Andrew Pinnock would be a more than adequate replacement. They also feel their second-round pick, Jacob Hester, can take over for Turner, a free agent, who was signed by the Atlanta Falcons.

The other two question marks are up front. One is All-Pro tight end, Antonio Gates, and the other is center Nick Hardwick, the mainstay of the offensive line. Both are coming off of foot injuries. But the Chargers have yet to say whether either one will be ready for the opener.

Still, San Diego’s question marks are minor compared to Oakland’s.

The biggest one perhaps is not on the playing field but in the front office, namely, Al Davis. First off, he finishes the season by asking his head coach, one-year neophyte, Lane Kiffin, to resign. Kiffin refused. At the very least, he would force Davis to fire him so he could collect the contract money owed to him.

Davis, known for being rather miserly in his old age, opted not to fire Kiffin and save a million dollars.

Then, in a burst of sheer madness, Davis turns around and spends $255 million, hoping to fix what’s wrong with the Raiders. The only problem is that he, himself, is what’s wrong with the Raiders. Davis, a control freak, has turned Oakland into perennial AFC West cellar-dwellers.

Davis has been a miser for so long that he has forgotten how to spend wisely. With a pressing need to bolster a defense that was third in the NFL overall in 2006, but dropped all the way to 22nd in 2007 and 31st in yards allowed rushing, Davis drafts Darren McFadden, another running back.

The Raiders had just signed Justin Fargas to a long-term contract and have a decent backup in Michael Bush. The top defensive tackle in the nation, LSU’s Glenn Dorsey, was theirs for the asking. But, no thanks, Davis wants to add some flash and sell tickets rather than win games.

Yes, McFadden is versatile. Yes, he will add some punch to the offense. But with Warren Sapp retired and a defense that was 31st in rush yards, you cannot let Glenn Dorsey go to the Kansas City Chiefs, which is what Al Davis did.

Then the Denver Broncos dump injury-plagued Javon Walker after catching only seven passes in six games. What does Davis do? He signs Walker to a six-year $55 million contract with $16 million guaranteed. Those seven catches must have really looked great on film.

Then, further bad luck struck the Raiders. Walker was beaten, robbed, and left unconscious in Las Vegas last week. He is expected to recover in time for training camp, to see how much of that $55 million he can earn.

Next, Davis overpays for Tommy Kelly to the tune of $50.5 million over seven years, and $18 million in guarantees. Kelly, coming off ACL surgery, will move from the defensive end to Warren Sapp’s spot at defensive tackle. And to think Davis could have had Dorsey instead.

Finally, there is the quarterback spot and the offensive line. Robert Gallery has been forced to switch from tackle to guard, while free agent Kwame Harris fills in at Gallery’s tackle position. Whether that will actually help Fargas and McFadden gain some yardage does not at all concern the optimists in Oakland.

But the quarterback spot is the biggest question for the Raiders. JaMarcus Russell signed on after the start of 2007 season and held a clipboard throughout most of the games. So he is taking over the offense virtually as a first-year starter.

So, the question remains: Can he throw, and whom can he throw to?

The optimists are hoping it’s not to the Raiders opponents. But the defenders might be the only ones on the field capable of catching a Russell hardball. Not only is Javon Walker coming off an injury, so is their No. 2 receiver, Ronald Curry.

The only thing Raiders' optimists really have going for them is an easy schedule. That should guarantee them two wins—Atlanta and Miami. If they can somehow put together a half-decent defense, they may manage to steal three, maybe four more wins at most.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

NFL Live breaks down AFC West

Chargers former S dies in car crash

SAN DIEGO (TICKER) —Former San Diego Chargers safety Terrence Kiel was killed in a car crash, police said Saturday. He was 27.
According to a San Diego police spokesman, Kiel’s body was ejected from his 2004 Chevrolet sedan, which crashed into a wall in the Scripps Ranch neighborhood.
Kiel, who was driving alone after leaving a party at approximately 10:15 p.m. local time, was barely breathing by the time emergency paramedics arrived at the crash scene. He was pronounced dead at 11:28 p.m.
According to police, a female witness saw Kiel driving in the wrong direction before he lost control of the car. Toxicology tests will be performed to determine whether Kiel, who had a history of legal trouble, had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A 2003 second-round draft selection, Kiel appeared in 59 games over parts of four seasons with the Chargers.
Following a 2006 campaign in which he started 15 games, Kiel was released by the Chargers in February 2007, when he pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor drug charges.

Former linebacker Steve Foley agrees to settlement

SAN DIEGO (AP)—Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley agreed to settle his lawsuit for $5.5 million against a police officer who shot him two years ago, ending his football career.
Foley’s lawyer, Harvey Levine, said his client wants to get on with his life.
Foley reached the agreement last week with the city of Coronado and Officer Aaron Mansker. Terms were not disclosed until Monday. The Coronado City Council was to meet Monday to consider approving the settlement.
Foley was shot in his leg, hip and hand in September 2006. Mansker was off-duty when the shooting occurred. He tailed Foley’s car home from San Diego on suspicion the driver was drunk.

Monday, July 7, 2008

First Post!!

This is the first post in what is soon to be, the best Charger football blog on the Internet. I created this blog because this is the year the Chargers are going to win the Super Bowl and I wanted to start a blog to honor not only their run at the Super Bowl, but also, I wanted to create a place where Charger fans from all over the Nation could come and celebrate America's finest football team. Feel free to post as much as you like, feedback and your posts are the only way this site will get better. GO CHARGERS!!!!