5 Biggest Takeaways from the San Diego Chargers' OTAs
Already halfway through OTAs, there has been plenty to gather from Chargers Park.
For starters, several key veterans were not in attendance for the team's first day of scheduled activities. Ryan Mathews, Antonio Gates, Jeromey Clary and Dwight Freeney were among the absences that stood out.
Head coach Mike McCoy wasn't bothered by the no-shows and told reporters he expected it, per Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com: "We know why they are not here. And we’re going to get better with the guys we have here right now. It’s voluntary, and we know why people are not here."
In other news, there have been no major injuries to report from the practice field. Hearing about the unfortunate occurrence with Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee brought back memories of Melvin Ingram's demise in OTAs last year. For the most part, the Bolts have remained healthy, but a handful of players are still recovering from offseason surgeries—one of which could run into training camp.
Here are the latest tidbits and takeaways so far.
Jeromey Clary Recovering from Hip and Shoulder Surgeries
Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reported on Monday that according to a team source, Jeromey Clary had recently underwent hip surgery. The procedure was his second of the offseason (Clary also had surgery on his shoulder), and he is expected to miss OTAs and minicamp. Whether he'll be ready in time for July's training camp is unknown.
In Clary's absence, third-year man Johnnie Troutman has been working with the first team, and third-round draft pick Chris Watt has gotten in reps with the second team, per Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com.
Chris Watt Practicing at Center and Right Guard
Former Notre Dame offensive lineman Chris Watt has been working at right guard and center in OTAs, according to Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego. Watt's transition from left to right guard was anticipated, but the reps at center could possibly hint at San Diego's long-term plans for him. Veteran Nick Hardwick is entering the final year of his contract after contemplating retirement in the offseason.
Malcom Floyd Looking Like His Old Self
The buzz on Malcom Floyd's return to the practice field has been overly positive thus far. According to Ricky Henne of Chargers.com, the veteran receiver is "back to his old ways" and "making big plays."
Floyd told reporters he felt good after the team's first OTA:
I felt really good today. Today’s down and we’re looking forward to tomorrow and just getting better…I’m not tentative. I’m very confident and just eager to go back out there. I want to start where I left off at. I’m very excited.
Philip Rivers was also a happy camper in seeing his longtime teammate take the field again:
He’s one of the guys I could not throw to for a year and pick it up in about 30 minutes. But it is good to have him out there because you start to see how some things come together, and you tailor things like we've always done to what guys you have. So when you have a guy like Malcom, you certainly want to use him to his strengths.
Te'o, Freeney Limited in OTAs; Mathews a No-Show on Day 1
Dwight Freeney and Manti Te'o are still in the process of recovery from their respective injuries last season. Freeney, who had surgery in October to repair a torn quad, worked off to the side during OTAs, and joining him was Te'o, who had surgery in January to repair a stress fracture in his foot.
Dwight Freeney working to side of OTAs. He's been at Chargers Park, rehabbing October surgery on quad tendon tear.— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) June 2, 2014
Manti Te'o said recently he's as healthy as he's ever been. Uh-oh. He's working on the side during first offseason practice. #Chargers— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) May 27, 2014
Tuesday's big shocker was the absence of running back Ryan Mathews, according to Eric D. Williams. However, Mathews put any rumors of lingering injuries to rest when he attended Wednesday's practice in good spirits, telling Ricky Henne, "It’s great to be back to football and be around these guys."
Bolts Focus on Red-Zone Offense in Week 2 of OTAs; Young DBs Competing
The red-zone offense was a point of emphasis for the Chargers in the second week of OTAs, per Ricky Henne. Head coach Mike McCoy stressed the importance of working on an area in which his team ranked 23rd on offense and 24th on defense (according to teamrankings.com) last season:
That’s an area that we need to improve from last year. (There’s) a lot emphasis by the coaching staff, on offense and defense, on improving (in the red area). It wasn't a bad start today, but we've got a long ways to go.
Eric D. Williams highlighted three defensive backs on the rise during OTAs. Safety Jahleel Addae is a candidate to fight for a starting job next season, and Steve Williams, who missed all of his rookie season with a torn chest muscle, got first-team reps at cornerback. Undrafted rookie Chris Davis has also been impressive, so says Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle:
Any time he's been in there with the 3s he's made plays. He's batted balls down. He's explosive. So you like what you see from that point. But it's give and take. You don't want to put too much into it. You don't want to hype a kid up too much.