Chargers Mini Camp 2009

The San Diego Chargers held their annual mini camp this weekend, and BoltHype was on-site taking notes, making observations, conducting interviews, and snapping pictures. Throughout the offseason, we'll do our best to bring you coverage of the Chargers mini camp and training camp sessions. Hit the jump to read more:

Mini camp in pictures:

Some quick notes on mini camp:

Gartrell Johnson

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 about upgrading your linebacker group. Here's some new toys Coach Rivera...go play!

Opportunistic Secondary

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.

May 2, 2009

Join our team:


Anonymous said... May 2, 2009, 6:43:00 PM

this site is fucking gay and so are all of you who read it.

Anonymous said... May 2, 2009, 6:51:00 PM

Is this Jay Cutler?

Anonymous said... May 2, 2009, 6:59:00 PM

The guy who said this is a "gay" site, is probably a raiders fan. Just remember the Chargers have absolutly dominated the AFC West in 21st Century, and we will continue to do so. Go ahead and fight it out for second place a-hole.

Anonymous said... May 2, 2009, 7:15:00 PM

I wonder if the guy who mentioned the site as being gay in reality is gay himself ... his Freudian slip???

Anonymous said... May 2, 2009, 7:27:00 PM

Hmmm... someone's little digital weenie is showing.

Anonymous said... May 2, 2009, 7:27:00 PM

GREAT article - thank you!

Anonymous said... May 2, 2009, 10:34:00 PM

fuck yeeah! this year chargers defense should be beastly!

Anonymous said... May 2, 2009, 11:10:00 PM

We just need to stay healty, that has been our bad karma the last few years, because talent wise we should be champions. GO CHARGERS FOR EVER!
By the way Raiders fans way to go on yet another superv drafting of yours.

Jeff Williams said... May 3, 2009, 8:53:00 AM

Not to focus on the negative, but which O-linemen were getting knocked on their ass? The line has to be better than last year just because of the health factor, but they need to prove they can block like they did in 2007.

Anonymous said... May 3, 2009, 11:58:00 AM

Any news on acquiring a vet fullback or who will be stepping up? Tolbert and Hester were looking better at the end of last season, but I still think adding a vet fullback would help.

Anonymous said... May 3, 2009, 1:30:00 PM

I think they're going to stick with Hester at fullback, at least this year. Remember, they have Manumaleuna as a blocking TE also. If LT gets hurt again, that might change things, as Sproles/Hester as a halfback duo would be very hard to cope with.

arnie said... May 3, 2009, 6:03:00 PM

hester is hard to cope with period. that guy is a mini tank, running on nitrous oxcide. and yeah we need to adress the o-linemen on the thier butts. (practice squad maybe?) my only two concerns are safety and corner blitzs. and run blocking. if both live up to expectations, LT could get that one accomplishment he's been chasing.

peace out

Steve said... May 3, 2009, 8:30:00 PM

Hester improved a lot through last year. I thought I read somewhere we released Tolbert. Our O-Line was the real problem last year. Vasquez is supposed to look real good though.

Anonymous said... May 4, 2009, 1:25:00 AM

aj smith sucks-
he fucked up by not picking up troy polamalu (future hall of famer)
now he picks up larry I suck dick english.
good job aj-

Steve said... May 4, 2009, 10:26:00 AM

AJ sucks so much we've gotten into the play offs and won a game how many years in a row? You were happier when we went like 2-14 every year? AJ Smith changed the culture and turned SD into a winning fanchise, jackass. After last year, you don't think we need a pass rush? You'd prefer a MLB who got a 800 on his SAT so he can sit on the bench since we got Burnett?

Anonymous said... May 4, 2009, 4:10:00 PM

While it's true that some of us Boltheads are apparently challenged by the intricacies of using the Shift key, it is equally true that A. J. Smith DOES indeed have some serious answering-to-do regarding (at least) passing on drafting future All-Pro (x3, and possible Hall of Famer) Troy Polamalu in favor of Sammy Davis (already out of football ) and Terrence Kiel (already dead), and letting future All-Pro (x2) Wes Welker go despite a touchdown catch and an 81-yard punt return TD in his rookie preseason. The oh-so-shrewd A.J. let Welker go so he could get the immortal Clinton Hart in here off waivers. Oy.
Those decisions equal passing on two high-achieving careers and their 5 (and counting) Pro Bowl-worthy seasons for three players whose total sum of listings under “Career Highlight and Awards” in Wikipedia read “No notable achievements” or nothing at all.
Then, if you begin to think ahead and maybe factor in the dubious (so-far) career of 1st-round draft choice Craig “Buster” Davis and the possible fumble of the contract of our tall and sure-handed Malcom Floyd..., and then you too may start wondering, a lot, about A. J.?

Steve said... May 4, 2009, 4:32:00 PM

Serious answering to do? We've been competitive every year. Nobody's perfect but we've had a shot to get to the championship every year. You can't ask for much more. Should we question every other team who didn't get Polamalu? Davis has been hurt and has shown glimpses. If he doesn't pan out, no big deal. How many other quality recievers do we have? Who is gonna do a better job than Smith is anyway?

Anonymous said... May 4, 2009, 5:03:00 PM

dam i'm mad this guy brought up SAT scores lmao, overall i like the draft!!

Steve said... May 4, 2009, 6:21:00 PM

I LOVE the draft. I was riding Maualuga like most guys here for a while too but the more I thought about what we did the happier I am. English looks like a GREAT pass rusher. Without Merriman we don't have a pass rush. We also got a bruising back, a hard hitting safety, and a BEAST of a defensive lineman.

Anonymous said... May 4, 2009, 7:03:00 PM

can't forget vasquez he's a beast and will definetly be a future starter for us

Anonymous said... May 5, 2009, 1:55:00 AM

Yes, Steve..., SERIOUS answering to do! The Chargers had the 15th pick that year, and over half of the players picked from there UP in that draft have since been to the Pro Bowl! Passing on Polamalu for two guys who were also-rans and are already out of the league definitely qualifies as a glaring error in football judgement, period.
As far as being competitive every year, hell; every team has an equal chance to be "competitive" every year..., until they play. But when you play Pro-bowlers and Hall of Famers against also-rans, eventually water finds it own level. And no, I don't want Perfection, I want to see a Super Bowl VICTORY in this city I was born in before I DIE!! I've been a Charger's fan since their 1st day here, and frankly I'm damn tired of the excuses. There has been enough talent here multiple times, but "stupid is as stupid does" and I'm sorry to say our Chargers have proven themselves to be only "nearby" when it really counts, so far.
Meanwhile, you're right about us being deep in recievers now, or at least we USED to be. But consider that Gates' may be lured away by big money and is still recovering from toe problems, Jackson has two DUI's, Malcom Floyd looks to be seeking greener pastures, Nanee's unproven
as a starter, Davis is a rumor, and Chambers is aging. Then we don't look quite so deep. Then consider that we still don't have a proven replacement for a lost starter in the so-so O-Line, a slowing L.T., and a slow-footed quarterback in Rivers, and I start to get a little nauseous! Maybe it's just a case of a cat that has been bitten by a snake being afraid of a rope, but I confess I'm nervous about A.J. and the Chargers..., I can't help it, I've watched the Spanos' for too long.
And regarding: "Who is gonna do a better job than Smith anyway?" - I don't know, but maybe we should survey all the other Junior High gym coaches in this city too, since that job represents a good chunk of A.J.'s professional background, and he seems to be a wunderkund to some folks. Maybe so. But I just can't stop thinking about Troy and Wes getting away, while Hart, Davis, and Kiel stay! You're right, there have been real surprise successes too (Gates, Jackson, Diel), but this pattern of letting Pro-Bowl caliber players go (see: Kassim Osgood) will soon take the Chargers to the bottom of the division if left unchecked.

Anonymous said... May 5, 2009, 6:57:00 PM

o-line worries the hell out of me. Does someone knoe something idon't. LT was hurt but i don't remember seeing consistant huge holes for him to run through. I have great confidence in Rivera, he probably saved Norvs job other than the fact AJ is one of those GM's who will never get along with an opionionated coach. Even though Norv looked like he was about to cry a few times I don't dislike him. Ive been a bolts fan my entire life and I like when we win and weve been winning so AJ is ok with me. If we stay healthy I feel real good about this year.

Anonymous said... May 5, 2009, 7:02:00 PM

great info. please continue reporting on minicamp for us charger diehards livivg in Florida.

steve said... May 6, 2009, 2:50:00 PM

I couldn't live being as negative as the homie 2 up. We're a consistent play off team. that's more than many can say. get over your Polomalu man crush. that was years ago.

OCchargersfan73 said... May 6, 2009, 3:14:00 PM

OCchargersfan73: Are there any fans of the Chargers from the OC? Excited about the season after reading about minicamp. Too bad it was closed to the public.

Steve said... May 6, 2009, 8:17:00 PM

I just saw this stat and found it interesting:
Over the past 10 years, no team has had more draft choices earn Pro Bowl honors than the Chargers.

Anonymous said... May 11, 2009, 7:14:00 PM

With too much free time (another unemployed Californian) I came back to read Steve's reference to the high number of Charger draft choices who've earned Pro-Bowl honors, made to show my supposedly excessive negativity. Although his reference is unsourced, he IS correct. So to Steve and any others I've annoyed, my sincere apologies.
While it still irks me to know the Chargers scouts whiffed on Polomalu and Welker and their 7 Pro-Bowl worthy seasons, there is no denying that several of the drafts they DID make (especially since 2001) have been Awesome. That is especially so when we consider we got two Pro-Bowlers undrafted, (Gates and Dielman)one of which has an excellent chance at the Hall of Fame. And despite my whining about the "errors" at the top of the draft that year, it's true the lower Charger draft choices and free agents garnered several NFL men with clearly NFL-level talent. Steve..., I was wrong. Mea culpa.

Jimmy said... May 12, 2009, 6:45:00 PM

The Chargers have drafted more pro bowlers in the last 10 years than any team in the NFL, and most of them have been drafted by AJ.

Also, how many other GMs can you named that traded Sheli Manning for three Pro Bowlers (Rivers, Kaeding, Merriman)? Sure, Sheli has a super bowl but I think it's safe to say that the Giants won because of their defense, their running game, and Plaxico Burress. And we all saw what happened these past playoffs when Plex isn't on the field.

AJ might not be perfect, but he's better than anything else we've had in these parts for years.

Justin said... Jul 28, 2009, 12:26:00 PM


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