San Diego Chargers Early Training Camp Observations

Rick DevereuxContributor IIAugust 1, 2013

San Diego Chargers Early Training Camp Observations

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    The San Diego Chargers are expected to have some growing pains early in the 2013 season—if only because most of the offensive coaches are brand new, and the players are learning new terminology and schemes. Add in new players in new positions, most notably along the offensive line, and a period of adjustments is totally understandable.

    But with one week of training camp in the books, the buzz around Chargers camp is more about how well the players are picking up the new verbiage on offense and the emergence of surprise starters.

    While it is obviously too early to predict how anything in the first week of training camp will relate to the first week of the regular season, here are five early observations at San Diego Chargers training camp.

Left Tackle Controversy?

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    The San Diego Chargers needed to address the offensive line in the offseason, and new general manager Tom Telesco did just that.

    When King Dunlap signed, public opinion was that the former Philadelphia Eagle was a versatile backup—but an incomplete starter.

    When Max Starks was signed, the addition was viewed as the solution to the left tackle question for at least one season.

    As U-T San Diego’s Michael Gehlken points out, Dunlap has been practicing with the first unit while Starks has been with the second stringers.

    Gehlken points out that, when rookie D.J. Fluker needed a rest, Dunlap rotated to right tackle and Starks entered at left tackle, which Gehlken thinks proves the competition for left tackle has not been decided yet.

    Because Starks is a 13-year vet, the coaches could be saving his reps for games, but it is still surprising to hear Dunlap is getting most of the snaps at first-team left tackle.

2014 Hard Knocks?

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    There is a delicate tightrope NFL organizations walk in public relations. The teams want to be accommodating and friendly to the media in order to get good press, but the team does not want a media circus and cameras intruding in private meetings.

    That is why HBO’s Hard Knocks had a difficult time finding a willing partner this season, before Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals accepted the offer.

    Kevin Acee reported that San Diego could be the featured team in 2014.

    The business side of the Chargers organization is in favor of the free advertising. The football side of the organization, including some players, is not so keen on the idea.

Running Back by Committee

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    Those wondering if Ryan Mathews can handle a full load as San Diego’s featured running back, may have to wait, as it looks like new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and rookie head coach Mike McCoy will use a heavy rotation at that position.


    Think there's no doubt Chargers backfield will be a rotation. Danny Woodhead too good at what he does on passing downs to keep off field.

    — Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) July 29, 2013


    Woodhead has been one of the main stars on offense according to Chris Jenkins of U-T San Diego. Jenkins quoted Chargers All-Pro safety Eric Weddle as saying Woodhead is “hard to deal with in the running game.”

Offensive Struggles

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    According to U-T San Diego’s Tom Krasovic, McCoy was not happy following Monday’s practice.

    Krasovic said the defense “dominated” the offense during team drills, and wide receivers dropped four passes over the span of five plays. He said McCoy, a former offensive coordinator, was loud and “salty” when addressing the team at the end of practice.

    Not too much should be read into the offense being a step behind the defense at this point, considering Philip Rivers and company are learning a brand new playbook while the defense remains under coordinator John Pagano’s guidance—but the dropped passes are worrisome.

McCoy-Turner Differences

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    It is inevitable to compare the new “thing” with the old “thing,” whether it is SNL cast members, Coca-Cola formulas, or, as is the case with the Chargers, head coaches.

    Norv Turner spent five years as San Diego’s head coach and also acted as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, if not in name, then in actions. Turner was fired at the end of the season and is now the offensive coordinator in Cleveland.

    McCoy, who was the offensive coordinator in Denver, is now the Chargers head coach.

    As Michael Gehlken points out, McCoy’s practices have an up-tempo pace with little rest between plays.

    Kevin Acee agrees. He tweeted:


    The way Chargers run during drills/between them is remarkable. Might be getting 50 percent more work in any given practice vs previous years

    — UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) July 28, 2013

    Another difference between McCoy and Turner, according to Tom Krasovic, is where each coach focuses his attention during practice.

    Former running back LaDainian Tomlinson told Krasovic, McCoy was bouncing from group to group and drill to drill, watching the entire team practice. Apparently Turner stayed with the offense and, more specifically, the quarterbacks during practice.