• For a second straight day rookie Chris Watt worked with the starters at right guard, with Johnnie Troutman working at right guard with the second unit. Both are filling in until last year’s starter, Jeromey Clary, returns from the physically unable to perform list after offseason shoulder and hip surgery.
For the most part, Watt has been assignment correct and held his own during one-on-one pass drills. But another measuring point for the third round selection out of Notre Dame will be how he performs against Dallas on Aug. 7 at Qualcomm Stadium.
• Speaking of rookies, second-round selection Jeremiah Attaochu continues to flash speed and athleticism in his first week of training camp. The Georgia Tech product has been used as a pass rush specialist in passing situations.
However, at times Attaochu has been a little overzealous in pursuing the ball carrier. Attaochu was beat on a wheel route by Ryan Mathews and tackled him by legs, a no-no during team drills when players are supposed to keep hitting above the waist.
And while rushing the passer, Attaochu pushed tackle Michael Harris back in to quarterback Kellen Clemens, who hit his hand on Harris’ helmet following through on a pass down the field. But the Chargers can live with Attaochu’s enthusiasm, as long as he’s playing aggressive and making plays.
• Jarret Johnson, Dwight Freeney and Antonio Gates returned to practice after taking rest days on Sunday. Receiver Vincent Brown remained out for a third straight day with a calf injury. And Melvin Ingram also did not practice, apparently taking a rest day for his surgically repaired knee. Clary remains on the PUP list.
• Mathews moved well working with the offense in two-minute drills on Tuesday. After catching a pass out on the flat, Mathews made a nice open-field move to avoid an oncoming Manti Te'o. Mathews also showed nimble feet finding cutback lanes in the run game.
Perhaps Mathews had some extra motivation with LaDainian Tomlinson on hand for Monday’s practice. Now an analyst for the NFL Network, the former San Diego running back talked with his former teammates like Rivers and Gates, along with Mathews and Dwight Freeney, after practice.
• The Chargers wore pads for a third straight day on Monday, but will take a day off on Tuesday. San Diego returns to practice on Wednesday, beginning at 5:50 p.m. ET. Wednesday’s practice is open to the public.
Yates says the Chargers now save $2.95 million in cap space. Clary, San Diego starting right guard last season, is currently on the active, physically unable to perform list rehabbing from offseason shoulder and hip surgeries.
Clary is hopeful that he’ll be healthy for 2014 season opener at Arizona on September 8. Rookie Chris Watt and Johnnie Troutman has seen time with the starting offensive line at right guard during training camp with Clary out.
The move was somewhat expected for the 30-year-old Kansas State product, who would have been the fourth-highest paid player on the roster had his contract remained at the original salary.
Clary remains an important part of San Diego’s offensive line. Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris values players who can consistently perform with the proper technique in his system.
Clary was part of an effective offensive line unit for San Diego that did a nice job of protecting Philip Rivers and creating running lanes for Ryan Mathews in 2013. Keeping that continuity together, particularly the communication that occurs between a veteran center like Nick Hardwick and Clary, is important.
Clary missed just four games due to injury in the last four years. He plays with pain, adds toughness up front and is considered a leader and one of the foundational players on offense by Telesco. Clary also provides versatility, with the ability to play four of the five offensive line positions.
In his first action since suffering a torn quad in Week 4 last season against Dallas, Freeney said he felt better than expected. And the 34-year-old has showed off his speed and athleticism during the opening week of training camp.
“I’m getting there,” Freeney said. “I’m moving around better than I anticipated. This is the first time that I had to go against guys -- having to make a move on a guy. I’ve planned all offseason for that. But to actually go out there and feel pretty much good, that’s a good thing.”
Safety Eric Weddle said Freeney spent the five weeks after the team’s offseason program in San Diego working out at the team’s facility in anticipation of the opening of training camp.
The Chargers finished tied for 23rd in the NFL in sacks last season with 35. Even worse, they had just 10 sacks on third down, second-worst in the league.
Weddle believes a healthy Freeney can help improve those statistics.
“I was in here every day, and he was right here with me,” Weddle said. “So I have seen the work he’s put in, and it’s going to be huge for us if we can get a consistent, four-man rush that teams have to game-plan for and fear. It will make all of our lives easier.”
The key for Freeney will be staying healthy all season. The Chargers gave Freeney a rest day on Sunday to help keep him fresh during training camp. And with a deep pool of talent at outside linebacker, the hope is San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano can limit Freeney’s reps so that he’s healthy when the games matter most, in December and January.
At 34 years old, Freeney said he’s out to prove that he’s still one of the best pass-rushers in the game.
“For me, every time I step on the field, I kind of find a way to somehow put something in my head to where I have to prove something,” he said. “And I think you always do to a certain extent. Prove to all of the doubters that you can still do it. Prove to that young guy who was born in 1992 that you can run faster than him still.
“You’ve got to find something, and for me that’s always helped keep me going over the years -- finding something to help keep me motivated.”
Running backs (4)
Kerwynn Williams and Branden Oliver have shown flashes, but I still think Grice is ahead at this point.
Inman has been the most consistent of the young receivers trying to make the back end of the roster. Seyi Ajirotutu is still in the mix, and rookies Tevin Reese, Javontee Herndon and Torrence Allen all have made plays.
Tight ends (4)
You could go with three tight ends here in order to pick up another receiver.
Offensive linemen (9)
- Nick Hardwick
- Chad Rinehart
- King Dunlap
- Johnnie Troutman
- D.J. Fluker
- Rich Ohrnberger
- Chris Watt
- Mike Harris
- Willie Smith
With Jeromey Clary still on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and not practicing, the Chargers need depth here.
Defensive linemen (6)
Tenny Palepoi and Damik Scafe and Chas Alecxih have made good impressions.
- Donald Butler
- Manti Te’o
- Melvin Ingram
- Dwight Freeney
- Jarret Johnson
- Jeremiah Attaochu
- Reggie Walker
- Kavell Conner
- Andrew Gachkar
- Tourek Williams
Williams has been one of the more impressive young players in camp. It will be hard to keep Thomas Keiser off of the roster after how he played last season.
At times, Marshall has been the best cornerback in camp. He's playing with a lot of confidence right now.
These four appear to be clearly ahead of rookies Alden Darby and Adrian Phillips.
Interested to see how rookie punter Chase Tenpenny performs in exhibition play if he gets an opportunity.
- Ball magnet Eric Weddle showed why he’s one of the best safeties in the game, twice corralling interceptions during team drills and running them back for scores. The first pick came on an out route thrown by Philip Rivers intended for Keenan Allen in the red zone that Weddle stepped in front of for a turnover. And the second occurred later in practice on an errant throw down the middle of the field. Even though the team drills aren’t full-go, Weddle talked about why he ran both interceptions back to the end zone. “I’ve been in the end zone a few times in my career, so I like to feel that I can get in there if I get a pick,” Weddle said. “It’s just always if you get a pick let’s go run it in. They’ll sub you out. Just get that feeling of the guys blocking for you, and go score. Don’t settle for running out of bounds. Don’t settle for a 20-yard gain. Let’s try and go get points on the board.”
- Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes were both a force up the middle rushing the passer during defensive drills, much like the duo performed last season. But a couple of undrafted rookie free agents also flashed during inside pass-rush drills -- Tenny Palepoi and Chas Alecxih. Both players showed the ability to push the pocket from the interior against second-and-third unit offensive linemen. Defensive linemen like Sean Lissemore, Lawrence Guy, Kwame Geathers, Damik Scafe and Ryan Carrethers rightly remain ahead of Sirles and Palepoi on the depth chart. But the play of that young duo shows the overall improvement of San Diego’s defensive line so far through the first four days of camp. Along with those interior pass-rushers, second-round selection Jeremiah Attaochu is being given a lesson in how to get to the pass-rusher off the edge of the defense by going against two of the more mammoth tackles in the NFL in King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker. And although he’s struggled at times against the bigger offensive linemen, Attochu’s motor keeps churning. “That’s as big as it gets,” Attaochu said. “So I’m just working my technique against that, and trying to get around those guys. They’re like mountains.”
- Offensive lineman Jeromey Clary (shoulder, hip) remains on the active, physically unable to perform (PUP) list. His replacements, Johnnie Troutman and Chris Watt had to leave the field at the end of practice on Saturday due to dehydration but returned to practice on Sunday. Inside linebacker Andrew Gachkar (unknown) and center Nick Hardwick (rest) also returned to the field after missing practice. Receiver Vincent Brown (calf) remains out. Outside linebackers Jarrett Johnson and Dwight Freeney, along with tight end Antonio Gates took rest days. “They kind of did some things on the side, just the three of them, with strength and conditioning just to rest them,” San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy said about the veteran trio. “They’ve played plenty of football in their lives. So we’ll just keep them fresh.”
- The Chargers installed red zone offense and defense for the majority of the team drills during Sunday’s practice, a point of emphasis after the team’s struggles on both sides of the ball last season. “Like every practice, there was plenty of give and take,” McCoy said. “The defense created some turnovers there. There were some big plays by the offense. We did a nice job at times of stopping the run, and then the last period the offense did a nice job of running the football.”
- “He actually asked me as soon as we picked him on the first day, ‘Can I go back on punt returns?’ So we’ll see what happens down the road.” -- Chargers head coach Mike McCoy on first round selection Jason Verrett returning punts for the first time during training camp on Saturday.
- The Chargers practice at 8:50 a.m. ET on Monday and will take Tuesday off. Monday’s practice is closed to the public.
Here’s what Gabriel had to say about Philip Rivers:
“In Philip Rivers, the Chargers have a very good NFL quarterback. He isn’t one of the four true 'franchise' quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers), but Rivers is in the group at the next level. If there is a problem, it’s that I feel Rivers has already played his best football. With this being his 12th season in the NFL, I don’t see him getting any better than he already is. Still, his play is good enough to lead the Chargers to the playoffs. I just don’t see him as a Super Bowl-type quarterback.”
Alex Flanagan of the NFL Network talks with Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o in this video.
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated ranks Eric Weddle as the No. 5 safety in the league.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com writes about the unbreakable bond between Brandon Flowers and Eddie Royal.
Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego writes that rookie Jerry Attaochu struggled in one-on-one pass rush drills against D.J. Fluker.
Michael Gehlken and Kevin Acee take their first shot at projecting San Diego’s 53-man roster.
Marty Caswell of The Mighty 1090 AM radio writes that Malcom Floyd and Flowers had some battles in one-on-one pass drills in her practice report.
Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt of Sirius XM NFL Radio talk with Rivers in this audio link.
The Penn State product serves as the team’s backup center behind veteran Nick Hardwick, but also is used as a backup at both guard spots and could probably fill in at offensive tackle in a pinch.
Ohrnberger took all of the reps with the starters at center Saturday on a muggy day at Chargers Park, with Hardwick taking a rest day.
“The role, like every year is just whatever they need,” Ohrnberger said. “As a player, as a Charger it’s just whatever the coaches need me to do, I’ll do. That’s all I can say right now. It’s training camp. It’s early, and you never know how things are going to shake out.
“As a reserve lineman there’s no other way to stay on the roster, unless there’s a specific need. You really need to be able to bounce around a little bit. And if that’s the need, that’s what I’ll do. Those decisions are made, and I just go out there and do my best.”
Ohrnberger, 28, visited the New York Jets in free agency, which would have been a homecoming of sorts for the East Meadow, New York, native. However, Ohrnberger ultimately inked a one-year, $795,000 deal to stay in San Diego.
A fourth-round selection by the New England Patriots in the 2009 draft, Ohrnberger signed a one-year deal with San Diego as an unrestricted free agent last offseason. Ohrnberger saw action in 13 games, including one start, and played a total of 144 snaps on offense in 2013.
“There were other opportunities,” Ohrnberger said. “But to be perfectly honest, I think we have a special team here. Special things are happening for us. I felt great about last season. So the goal was to get something worked out here, and it worked out perfectly.”
If there’s laughter emanating from the part of the locker room where the offensive line resides, you can bet Ohrnberger is at the center of it. He serves as the resident prankster for that group.
“That’s engrained,” he said. “I go in there and I love being around the guys. We just have a lot of laughs in training camp, especially the first couple days. It’s awesome being around the team and we’re just having a great time.
“It’s like a party, it really is. It’s been a bunch of years and I love it. As long as I can keep doing this, it’s going to be bunch of laughs.”
Ohrnberger also has taken his act to Twitter, which you can check out here and here. Although Ohrnberger admits he has to use his better judgment at times so he stays out of trouble.
“I’m doing my best to censor myself,” he said. “But honestly, from the social media standpoint or any of that stuff, the most important thing is my job, my family and just doing the right thing. As long as nobody is offended, that’s great. And if a couple people laugh, that’s better.”
- Play of the day: Toward the end of practice, outside linebacker Tourek Williams and fullback Zack Boren got locked up during team drills in an incident that eventually led to a full-on fight, with Williams tearing Boren’s helmet off.No coaches or players seemed in a hurry to get in between the two, to the point that a guy on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, offensive lineman Jeromey Clary, had to break it up. Not necessarily a smart move by Clary.
Williams said he and Boren squashed it afterwards.
“It’s just part of camp,” Williams said. “Guys get into it. A guy does something to you that you don’t like. It was the heat of the moment. It’s hot, and you’re in the first day of pads. You’re going to react, and it just builds toughness within your team.”
Offensive lineman D.J. Fluker said he’s doesn’t mind seeing a skirmish or two.
“I love seeing that intensity,” Fluker said. “That’s what it’s about. It’s about being a grown man, but we’re playing a child’s game right now. That’s what it is. We’re supposed to be out there having fun. You’re going to have fights, but other than that, we’re a team.”
- Position watch – Cornerbacks: A couple players in the secondary had good days on Saturday, with the Chargers coming out in full pads for the first time.Free-agent addition Brandon Flowers looked more comfortable, breaking up a couple of passes intended for Keenan Allen during one-on-ones.
Undrafted rookie free-agent Chris Davis also made his presence known, finishing with a couple of pass breakups and an interception. And veteran Richard Marshall had a nice interception during one-on-ones against Malcom Floyd.
Flowers, who did not have an offseason with a team, said he’s working himself into shape and expects his performance to only get better as he becomes more familiar with John Pagano’s defense. Flowers moved inside to play slot defender when San Diego went with six defensive backs with the first unit. Flowers and Shareece Wright remain the cornerbacks working with the starters.
“Every day I’m going to get more comfortable and more confident, just getting my feet up under me,” Flowers said. “Getting down my angles and just getting my body in football shape. So everyday I’m going to get better and better. I knew it was going to be tough starting off, but I’m just trying to keep it going every day.”
- Injury report: Clary (shoulder, hip) remains on the active, physically unable to perform (PUP) list. His replacements, Johnnie Troutman and Chris Watt also had to leave the field at the end of practice due to dehydration, head coach Mike McCoy told Alex Flanagan of the NFL Network. McCoy spoke briefly to reporters after practice, and did not address the injuries. Receiver Vincent Brown (calf), linebacker Andrew Gachkar (undisclosed) and center Nick Hardwick (rest) did not practice on Saturday.
- Coach’s corner: During 11-on-11 drills, reserve quarterback Kellen Clemens checked to a quick slant, but cornerback Crezdon Butler managed to get a hand on the ball intended for Dontrelle Inman. Inside linebacker Reggie Walker was pursuing on the play, corralled the tip and walked into the end zone for a score.
At 6-1 and 190 pounds, Butler is a rarity on San Diego’s roster – a press-cover cornerback over 6-foot tall.
“I hope I’m the best,” Butler said, when informed he’s the tallest cornerback on the roster. “That’s all I want to do [is make the roster].”
McCoy said creating turnovers continues to be a point of emphasis for the Chargers this year, and the defense created their fair share on Saturday. Walker sported a shirt with the defense’s slogan this year of TD: Tackle and disguise – turnover and disrupt.
“That’s basically the motto – have a good disguise and create turnovers and get off of the field,” Walker said.
- You don’t say: “I love competition. It’s been like that my whole career, from college to the pros. It makes you better. You never can get down on yourself. Competition is competition. If you look it up in the dictionary, somewhere it should say, ‘makes the other person better.’” -- Chargers cornerback Crezdon Butler on the competition he faces in making the 53-man roster.
- Up next: The Chargers practice at 5:50 p.m. ET on Sunday and 12:20 p.m. ET on Monday before taking a day off on Tuesday. Both practices are open to the public and take place at Chargers Park.
Position in youth football: "My first year when I was 7-years-old I played nose tackle. I didn’t play much. I rode the pine a little bit. The second year I started to blossom, and I played tailback. I started to get jiggy with the rock at 8-years-old."
Favorite NFL player growing up: "I grew up in Tampa, so my favorite player growing up was Warrick Dunn."
Most memorable moment: "That year it was playing in Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Bucs. We won the Super Bowl that year, and every Super Bowl winner in that league got to play in Raymond James Stadium at halftime against another youth football league champion.
"That was legit. It was my first time playing in an NFL stadium. Everything was big. I was looking for my favorite players’ lockers, growing up in Tampa watching them. I was just living in the moment.
"It was awesome, but I didn’t get in the end zone. I kind of got shut down that game."
Most influential coach: "I’d say Coach Liddell. He was the head coach of the Brandon Broncos. He was more than a coach to me. I was best friends with his son, so I spent time with his family. I had my father in my life, but he was my father figure on the field"
Favorite after-game snack: "Capri Sun and Cheetos."
• Play of the day: Edge rusher Dwight Freeney once again showed that he's close to being fully healthy, blowing by left tackle King Dunlap in a one-on-one pass rush drill. Freeney refused to put a percentage on his recovery he sees live action in exhibition play, but so far the explosiveness he's shown on a regular basis during practice has been one of the highlights of camp for San Diego head coach Mike McCoy.
"With players like that, they know what it takes to get back and to work," McCoy said. "And they know their bodies better than anybody else. Where, compared to a younger player, they might feel it out a little bit. But when you're a true pro like he is, and has had the success he's had and the burning desire to be the best, it doesn't shock me one bit."
• Position watch -- offensive line: Watching Chargers offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris during practice makes you appreciate the high level his unit executed at last season.
The group works at a frenetic pace, with an enthusiastic, high-energy D'Alessandris leading the drills. Few moments are wasted, and D'Alessandris emphasizes teaching over screaming instructions.
Versatility also remains important for a unit that played six different offensive line combinations last season, with players rotating to different positions along the line during individual drill work.
"Depending on any situation that might arise, everybody knows what they're doing, and there's continuity within the group," offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger said. "They work us hard, and we've had a lot of success because of it."
• Injury report: Offensive guard Jeromey Clary (shoulder,hip) remains on the active, physically unable to perform list. Clary's replacement, Johnnie Troutman, returned to practice as a full participant after leaving practice on Thursday with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
• Up next: The Chargers hold their first padded practice on Saturday at 12:20 p.m. ET. The practice will take place at Chargers Park, and is open to the public.
• You don't say: "Over the past month I just went home and studied the playbook, worked out a lot. And I've just come back now and I'm playing more comfortable and confident."
-- Chargers rookie receive Tevin Reese, who has looked impressive during the first two days of camp. McCoy mentioned Reese as one of the young players who has stood out during the early portion of training camp.
• Coach's corner: The open competition for the return jobs continued on Friday, with young players like Brelan Chancellor, Kerwynn Williams, Marion Grice, Chris Davis and Reese sharing reps with proven returners Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen.
While the practice reps are important, McCoy said ultimately the return jobs will not be decided until he sees players in live action in preseason games.
"We're not going to tackle the returners out here in practice," McCoy said. "So we're going to have to wait to see some of those younger players in preseason. They'll get a lot of shots, and a lot of opportunities."
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Former Florida State and NFL linebacker Deon Humphrey has been arrested in an assault on his girlfriend.
The 38-year-old was taken into custody early Thursday and charged with domestic battery by strangulation. The Palm Beach Sheriff's Office says deputies who arrived at the linebacker's Wellington home found redness on his girlfriend's neck and bleeding from her ear consistent with being grabbed by the neck.
A probable cause affidavit says the woman reported being shoved against a wall. Deputies say they found indentations in the wall and her black hairs in the plaster.
Humphrey is free on $5,000 bond. His public defender said she couldn't comment.
Clary, 30, was placed on the active, physically unable to perform (PUP) list at the start of training camp. Clary missed all of the offseason workouts with shoulder and hip surgeries, but he says he is targeting a return to the field in time to play in the opener at Arizona.
“I’m going to push as hard as I possibly can to get there,” he said.
Bill Barnwell of Grantland lists Clary’s four-year, $20 million deal as part of his all-bad contracts team. Clary is set to make $4.4 million in base salary in the final year of the deal this season. Barnwell: “A mess at right tackle in San Diego for years, Clary has repeatedly been defended by the organization as a worthwhile contributor to what has usually been a terrible offensive line. He moved to guard last season after the team drafted D.J. Fluker in the first round, where he wasn’t much better. He’s in the final year of a four-year, $20 million deal; if the Chargers don’t cut him, he’ll be the fourth-highest-paid player on the team.”
Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego notes that Steve Williams played slot defender during practice in his training camp report.
Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego writes that Antonio Gates traveled back home after road games last season multiple times to see his ailing sister Pamela, who died on Wednesday after a long battle with lupus.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com writes that rookie receiver Tevin Reese turned some heads with his play on the first day of camp.
Steve Hartman and Mike Costa of Xtra 1360 Sports Radio talk with Philip Rivers in this audio link.
Darren Smith of The Mighty 1090 talks with rookie linebacker Jerry Attaochu about his first day of camp in this audio link.
John Breech of CBS Sports points to the competition for the starting right guard spot among Clary, Johnnie Troutman and Chris Watt as the position battle to watch for the Chargers.
Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post previews the Arizona Cardinals, the Chargers opponent in the regular-season opener.
Play of the day: Rookie seventh-round draft choice Tevin Reese shook loose on a double move for a 40-yard touchdown against cornerback Brandon Ghee on a pass from backup quarterback Kellen Clemens. The play capped a solid day for Reese, who ran crisp routes and caught the ball well during 1-on-1 drills.
Position watch – Quarterback: Philip Rivers said he liked the tempo the offense played at on Thursday, running plays and in and out of drills at a quick pace.
Rivers said one of the differences from last year to this year is players know and understand what to expect in practice and the meeting room, now that the team is in the second season with head coach Mike McCoy.
“We really practiced fast,” Rivers said. “We had some mistakes. But those things will get ironed out as we progress.”
Injury report: Offensive guard Jeromey Clary (shoulder, hip) remains on the active, physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Clary’s replacement, Johnnie Troutman, had to leave the field toward the end of practice with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Troutman was replaced by rookie Chris Watt at right guard. Troutman later returned to practice.
Up next: The Chargers practice at 2:50 p.m. on Friday, and hold their first padded practice on Saturday at 9:20 a.m. Both practices will take place at Chargers Park, and are open to the public.
You don’t say: “It feels great. But it’s early. I think that this is one of those injuries that time is going to tell. It’s going to be interesting to see how fatigue affects it. But right now, it feels great.” -- Chargers outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, discussing his return to the field as a full participant after suffering a torn quad that ended his 2013 season. Freeney looked explosive rushing the passer in team drills.
Coach’s corner: The Chargers had a handful of drops on Thursday in both team and 7-on-7 drills. McCoy chalked that up to nerves from the opening of training camp, and expects that area to improve over the next couple of days.
“We talked about that after practice, that we had too many dropped balls,” McCoy said. “It wasn’t just one position. There were a number of different guys doing it, whether it was in individual period or team period, 7-on-7 – things like that. So that’s something we’ve got to clean up.”