Mini camp in pictures:
Some quick notes on mini camp:
It's early (and everyone looks good in shorts) but Gartrell Johnson could be the real deal. Shows a good burst, is a downhill runner, runs a bit high but can lower the shoulder and will punish the defender. He had a couple of excellent runs that he turned into big gains out here on the practice field by using that acceleration of his. Watching the East-West shrine game, Johnson really stood out as kind of a poor man's Steven Jackson. If I recall correctly, Gartrell played fullback in college before making the transition to tailback. He's carried those fullback instincts with him and incorporated it into his game.
The coaching staff were quick to both get after Gartrell when he made a mistake, as well as praising him when he did the right thing. To me, that showed that the coaches are trying to get him ready to contribute early on. If he takes to coaching, don't be surprised to see #33 making a roster spot and getting carries in games.
Ron Rivera's defense
There is a distinct difference between the Ted Cottrell defense and the Ron Rivera defense. One thing that really jumps out to me about Rivera's approach is that he will blitz the DBs and he'll do it often. Last year we saw a bit of it in the second half of the season, but this year I fully expect to see at least a couple of corner/safety blitzes per game.
Getting pressure on the QB seems to be the point of emphasis on defense, and seeing Larry English with his hand in the dirt on one side, with Philips on the other, brings happy thoughts to my head. Third down is going to be totally different this year compared to last.
Vaugh Martin is one of the most well-spoken and kick-back guys you'll meet, but when he's playing football he's trying to blow up the man in front of him. The defensive line as a whole were playing with alot of energy, twice putting an offensive lineman on his butt. Martin is getting by with raw talent right now but I chatted with him for a bit and he's excited about how much coaching he's getting right now. A guy with his physical tools who is as bright and coachable as he is....the sky's the limit. Think Igor Olshansky except way more athletic and versatile.
I think its safe to say that Burnett is going to start Week 1 inside opposite Coop. Burnett, Merriman, and English...talk about upgrading your linebacker group. Here's some new toys Coach Rivera...go play!
Cromartie and Hart both had nice interceptions, with Weddle almost getting one himself. Having familiarity with the system and gaining more and more experience playing in the NFL, our young secondary is starting to mature and thats pretty exciting. Not only were they making athletic plays, but they were being in the right place at the right time. I think the young guys like Cason, Cromartie, and Weddle can only get better with time and I expect big things from those three this year. Jammer has the LCB position locked down, Cromartie looks comfortable on the right side, and Cason is a nickel corner who is probably good enough to be a #1 on a lot of teams in the NFL. The way I see it, I can't imagine Cason being moved inside to safety.
Ellison might not have great timed speed, but he is certainly fast enough to match up with tight ends. He has good bulk but he can move. I don't think he's going to be much more than a good special teams player at this point, but down the road he could eventually start opposite Eric Weddle . That's probably 1 or 2 seasons away though. Not a knock on Ellison by any means, but there is so much learning that goes in to that position...he has some catching up to do before he'll be ready.
Jamal Williams, Antonio Gates, Marcus McNeill, and Shawne Merriman were all working out on the side doing plyometrics. By all accounts they are progressing nicely.
Labels: Chargers Practice 2009
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