Rounding Up San Diego Chargers' Offseason Buzz, Post-Minicamps
Summer vacation came a day early for the San Diego Chargers.
Second-year head coach Mike McCoy canceled the final day of mandatory minicamp as a reward for his team's efforts in the offseason, telling reporters he was pleased with all the work done up to that point:
I think the players have done an outstanding job this offseason and worked extremely hard. They’ve done a great job and have done everything we’ve asked of them. So this was a little bit of appreciation for what they did. I think we’re at a good point right now. We’ve got a long ways to go, but this is the best thing for the football team moving forward.
The next step for McCoy's Chargers will be training camp on July 24, but for now, the players will enjoy a five-week break before getting back to work.
Here's the latest buzz following minicamp.
Gates Excused from OTAs for "Personal Situation"
Veteran tight end Antonio Gates has been absent from San Diego's offseason training program, but extra rest hasn't been the reason, as most would have assumed for the 34-year-old.
Instead, McCoy told reporters Gates' absence has been excused for what's being described as a "very personal situation."
According to Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press, it is believed that Gates is dealing with an illness in the family. As Philip Rivers told Eric D. Williams of ESPN, support for Gates has been especially strong:
I’ve talked with him quite a bit. I think you just tell him that you love him and support him, and you’re with him. And you tell him to come back when you know it’s right. I think coach (McCoy) and everybody else handled it great.
Hardwick Injures Foot in Practice
San Diego has managed to steer clear of any major injuries in the offseason, but Nick Hardwick gave his team quite the scare when he went down on the second day of minicamp with a foot injury.
Eric D. Williams noted that Hardwick was seen wearing a walking boot after practice, but McCoy insists the veteran center will be fine. Philip Rivers didn't think the injury was all that bad either:
I was just glad it wasn’t too bad. He’s one of a kind, and he’s so tough. He had a big smile on his face, ‘Yeah, get Rich. Get Ohrnberger; I’m done.’ ... So yeah, hopefully he’ll be fine. He’ll get a five week, two day break instead of having to work these last two days.
On Wednesday, Hardwick was seen on the sidelines without the boot, and he is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late July.
Taylor Waived; Alecxih Added
Brandon Taylor's time with San Diego came to an unfortunate end on Thursday when the team announced he had been waived.
In just two seasons, Taylor was limited to four games as he attempted to come back from a torn ACL in 2012. He suffered a setback last offseason and wound up missing all of 2013. When he was given his opportunity to compete this offseason, Taylor failed to impress.
The rising stock of Jahleel Addae, no doubt, influenced the team's decision to part ways with the former third-round pick out of LSU.
In a corresponding move, the Chargers claimed Chas Alecxih off waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs, bringing the team's count at defensive tackle to six on the roster. Alecxih spent most of the 2012 season on the Miami Dolphins practice squad and enjoyed a brief stay with the Chiefs in the offseason.
Chargers Feel the Beat at Minicamp
In an effort to re-create the atmosphere his team will likely face in road games this year, Coach McCoy had music blasting on the loudspeakers at Chargers Park.
As he explained, per Ricky Henne of Chargers.com, the tunes were incorporated from a standpoint of work and play:
Number one, we’re going to be playing on the road where it’s going to be loud from time to time. And we’re playing at home this year, and it’s going to be awfully loud at home. That’s the environment we want our fans to have when our defense is out there. So we played it and we’re having a good time.
A number of players enjoyed the change, and the simulation of stadium noise is an intelligent tactic for McCoy. Eric D. Williams drew comparisons to Super Bowl-winning head coach Pete Carroll, who believes music in practice adds to his players' performance on the field.
Flowers in for a Visit
The Chargers know Brandon Flowers very well, having faced him twice a year the last six seasons in the AFC West. The first-year Pro Bowler was given the boot from Kansas City and is now looking for a new home.
Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reported on Thursday that Flowers had in fact received interest from the Chargers and came in for a brief visit with the team. He left unsigned, but as Gehlken pointed out in his article, that means very little, historically speaking.
For a secondary that was one of the worst in the league last season, the addition of Flowers would be a monumental upgrade. Fitting him under the salary cap would be yet another feather in the cap of general manager Tom Telesco, who added Dwight Freeney under similar circumstances last year.