San Diego Chargers Who've Turned Heads in Offseason Workouts
The San Diego Chargers are nearly through OTAs, which are scheduled to end on Thursday, and several of the players have managed to turn heads during workouts.
What goes on during OTAs should be taken with a grain of salt, as practices prohibit live contact, but that's not to say they aren't beneficial. Attendees gain mental reps as they get back into the swing of things, and that alone can be a great help when returning from a long layoff. There are physical benefits to be had as well.
The following players have taken full advantage of OTAs, all while turning heads at Chargers Park.
Butler admitted to having a poor season in 2014, telling reporters this week, "I just played bad. It happens. Like I said, I’m just ready for this year though, and I’m ready to get after it.”
The 26-year-old linebacker also revealed that he had "a couple surgeries" done in the offseason. Butler didn't attribute his poor play to those injuries, but as Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune pointed out in a recent article, he "looked less athletic than in other seasons."
Butler has since put last year's performance in the rear-view mirror, focusing instead on what next season holds in his sixth year in the pros.
Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano has taken notice of the new and improved Butler on the practice field, telling Judson Richards of The Chargers Power Hour on Xtra 1360 Fox Sports Radio, "Donald in the first five or six OTAs right now, you’re seeing a different player running around there—making plays and getting his hands on the football."
With health on his side and the improved focus shown in OTAs, Butler seems poised to get back to the player he was his first three seasons with the Chargers—the player they paid $51.8 million for back in March of 2014, per Spotrac.
A noticeably leaner Ingram has dropped 20 pounds, according to a report by Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and besides feeling great, Ingram is convinced the weight loss will have a positive impact on his game.
"Being at 260 or 265, 266, wasn't working, really," he said. "I felt quick but I kept getting injured. You've got to nitpick at your own body, your own self, your own game. ... I felt like playing lighter would be a better thing for me."
As Ingram alluded to, injuries have been a problem thus far in his career. He has missed 19 games over the past two seasons, keeping him from living up to expectations as a former first-round pick.
However, the Chargers have not yet thrown in the towel with Ingram. They picked up his fifth-year option in April, according to ESPN Insider Field Yates.
Should he be able to stay healthy, Ingram could play his way into a new deal with the team.
San Diego's first-round investment didn't need very long to settle in with his new team. As Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com noted during the Chargers' rookie minicamp, Gordon "looked as good as advertised" in drills.
Head coach Mike McCoy also took notice of Gordon. "He did a nice job. We weren’t going full speed out there. But he made a few of those moves and those cuts," he said. "And you understand why we picked him where we did."
The former Wisconsin running back is expected to play a large role in the Chargers offense next season, and he appears ready to assume the workload left by Ryan Mathews.
Krasovic, who took in the first day of OTAs at Chargers Park, was quick to point out Verrett's performance in his report for the San Diego Union-Tribune. The second-year cornerback is recovering from November surgery for a torn shoulder labrum, which cut his rookie season short by 10 games.
With Shareece Wright now in San Francisco, Verrett has taken on responsibilities at starting right cornerback opposite Brandon Flowers, making it all the more important he stay healthy in 2015.
In the brief moments when he saw the field last year, Verrett flashed for the Chargers and is poised for a breakout season with more playing time.
Another player who has stood out in the eyes of Krasovic thus far in OTAs has been Johnson, the Chargers' newest receiver who was brought in to replace Eddie Royal. The eighth-year veteran comes over from San Francisco, where he was used sparingly in the 49ers offense.
By the looks of it, he and quarterback Philip Rivers are already developing a rapport on the practice field:
Philip Rivers to Stevie Johnson. https://t.co/b5NThGUdak— San Diego Chargers (@Chargers) May 26, 2015
At just 28 years old, Johnson is still in the prime of his career and not far off from the productive seasons he posted in Buffalo from 2010-12.