Chargers Mini Camp Brings Optimism

There’s nothing like the fresh scent of rookie mini camp in the air and at Chargers Park on Friday, the Bolts officially welcomed the class of 2012 to the field. Now with the current rookie wage scale, the Chargers didn’t have nearly as much difficulty agreeing to terms with each of their incoming draftees. That meant that every player was in attendance and ready to begin their work as professionals this past weekend.

The highest profile of all the Bolts’ new pieces is undoubtedly pass rusher Melvin Ingram and he was eager to learn during these practice sessions. According to the team website, Ingram said: “I’m trying to listen to everything. I’m trying to make everything stay in my head. Everything the coaches say, I’m soaking it up. I’m like a sponge out there.”

Ingram sported the number 54 which was worn by nine-year Chargers veteran Stephen Cooper in years past. His size and build are similar to Cooper at 6’1” 264lbs., but his ability to explode off of the line of scrimmage and disrupt plays in the backfield distinguishes him from the former 54. During 11-on-11 drills Ingram showed just why the team drafted him and Head Coach Norv Turner offered him some praise saying: “We’re not stressing the physical part of (the game) right now. But you see his body type and the way he operates. He’s got a good combination of great quickness, and he’s going to be a very physical player — we saw that in everything he does. He’s got a great first step, and guys like that have a knack for rushing the passer.”

That talent for taking down opposing quarterbacks will be a welcomed addition for the Chargers who really struggled in that department during the 2011 season. The defense accumulated just 32.0 sacks which was a steep decline from 2010 when they had 47.0. Ron Rivera’s departure for the Carolina Panthers may have had something to do with that, but the need for a consistent edge rusher opposite Shaun Phillips will certainly aid the cause.

Second round pick Kendall Reyes was “a big 300-pound guy with great change of direction and great quickness” according to coach Turner. His ability to assimilate quickly and become a part of the club’s rotation up front along the defensive line will be important to enhancing the defense as a whole. Reyes is doing everything in his power to fit in as quickly as possible as he said: “Right now I just want to be the coaches’ go-to guy. I want to do everything right and I want to do everything hard and just be aggressive and go fast.”

Brandon Taylor, the team’s third round pick, will also add a lot to the Chargers’ defense. The biggest asset that he brings is an innate leadership that can’t be taught. One of his new teammates, Jacob Hester, is also one of his former teammates at LSU and he offered some personal insight on what Taylor will bring to the team. "You know you've got to be special when four offensive guys vote for a defensive guy to be No. 18 (a special number worn at LSU). He's just a real humble guy who works hard. Even when he got hurt, I was talking with the trainer, he said he'd be there twice a day, trying to get back as soon as he could. And the way he played, too. The tenacity he plays defense, I really enjoyed that."

My sleeper pick from this year’s class is tight end Ladarius Green who is an Antonio Gates clone at the tight end position. He found himself receiving some constructive criticism over the weekend however and seemed to take it well. “They’re telling me to bulk up a little bit. Get around the mid 240s to high 240s.” Green caught 51 passes for 606 yards and eight touchdowns at Louisiana-Lafayette last season, but the NFL will be a totally different animal. At 6’6” 235lbs. currently, his build is more like a wide receiver than a tight end. With the proper strength training and time spent under a tremendous mentor like Gates at his position, Green could blossom into quite a star sooner rather than later.

This is clearly a learning process for all of these young guys and their ability to pick up new information and translate it onto the field is critical to their individual learning curves. Coach Turner believes that this mini camp atmosphere is the perfect place to get a jump start on the upcoming season as he said: “We have to find out how different guys learn, because not all guys learn the same way. So we’re getting to know them, and in the process, we’re going to be evaluating their athleticism, but it’s a lot easier to evaluate that after they know what to do and they can go perform fast like we’d ask our veteran guys to. We threw a lot at them. We wanted to get them ready so they could compete when they start working with the veterans. For a young group, they're in outstanding condition. I think there are going to be some young guys who are going to be able to come in and have an impact on our team.”

Everything accelerated Monday as the veterans were brought into the mix and merged with the first year players. Only time will tell just which young players will become clear-cut starters from day one, but there seems to be a common theme surrounding the organization following the first look at these youngsters: Optimism.

Now it’s your turn to weigh-in! Do you believe that adding Melvin Ingram will boost sack totals for the team in 2012? Can Kendall Reyes fit in immediately as a rotation player on the team’s 3-4 front? Will Brandon Taylor provide the perfect complement for Eric Weddle in the secondary? Do you see Ladarius Green making an impact in his rookie season with the team’s plethora of tight ends? Are you as optimistic about these new rookies as the coaching staff seems to be? Please fill up the comments below with your thoughts!

May 15, 2012

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RaiderHater said... May 15, 2012, 8:54:00 AM wrote a most excellent piece!!  I am sooo freaking excited about this years Team...Ingram (I believe) is going to be a threat out of the gates for sure.  I think Reyes will be learning and fast, on the job...lots of rotations will help him learn as well as keeping the line fresh and hungry.  Taylor has the tools to jump in with Weddle...I see this as a position still open for a starter though.  Taylor may eventually own that spot but time will tell.  I totally agree with you on Green, he could be the "steal" of the year on Offense...with a teacher like Gates and the size and God given skills already...he could be the next great Charger TE.  I hope we use him enough to get him up to speed...can you say 3 TE sets...WTF and 2 wide outs....uhhhh defend this one !!!   The whole summer will finally be afforded the luxury of all the article about Mathews on was great where he himself hasn't had this advantage and how he feels it will make him have a break out year.  AJ did us right (for once in a long time) and got some talent, with leadership abilities, attitude and youth (enthusiasm) ...mix that with some solid vets and the players we acquired through FA (again AJ done did us good)...and it all falls on the coaches hands from here.  Norv had better "seen the light" like AJ apparently did and make this His Year.  I also predict Rivers will bounce back from last years turnover feast and have a MVP season!!!  Sooooo many weapons to throw to, hand off to, or catch on a sweep....damn we are going to be other Teams nightmares to plan against :)

Pete Spinning said... May 15, 2012, 10:30:00 PM

I <3 Taylor. Last one to sign ; )

Pete Spinning said... May 15, 2012, 10:31:00 PM

I dunno ... I just get "that" feeling about him.

Pete Spinning said... May 15, 2012, 10:33:00 PM

I'm Optimistic... hahahaha! Check this Q&A I got selected for on (Obviously, no hard feelings for the site I LERV & Hold Tru!!!!! But, Still neat.)
Maybe I'll get sum RH / FB Love via comments? 

Pete Spinning said... May 15, 2012, 10:45:00 PM

Also... didn't Eli bounce back from a turnover feast?

CS said... May 15, 2012, 11:20:00 PM

I think the Chargers will be much improved.  I also think the AFC west has improved.  Norv is the wildcard.  A good coach will make young players productive right away.  I just worry that is Norv's problem.  He seems like more of a play designer than a player's coach.

Denver was already a good football team.  A healthy Peyton will be Peyton.  Bet on it. 

KC no longer has a dufus as HC, and the quality GM hire from NE has had a year to make improvements. I think we could see a difference.

The Raiders have McFadden and Palmer healthy, and Palmer better in tune.  They lost a lot too though because of overloaded contracts.  Still don't underestimate them.  They have quality managment now.

RaiderHater said... May 16, 2012, 8:15:00 AM

 Wow we be gots ourselves a celebrity!!! Pete..can get a 5 X 8 photo with your autograph??  Make it out to "Rivers MVP 2012" !  Yeap, Eli stunk it up one year and then Bang all good in his neighborhood....I feel this will be the case with Rivers on Norv - - geez we can only hope :)

Pete Spinning said... May 16, 2012, 10:18:00 AM

Thought you might get a luagh out of that... as if I was going to turn down the opportunity to talk about the Chargers, right? LMAO! 

As for the picture... go outside & check your Charger mailbox, bro! It's already in there!

RaiderHater said... May 16, 2012, 12:15:00 PM

 Oh hell yeah....I would also like to get on the pre-order list for the DVD that TMZ leaked out of you in other interviews!!!!  I heard the first 10 orders come with a free Todd Marinovich jersey (what a stellar Raiders QB - Ha Ha).  Sometimes I eat the wrong foods and well you know what can happen...ya gotta have a good emergency "rag" to wipe yourself up with in case you can't get to the restroom in time...and with that...the Eddie Royal interview in the UT was cool, he is going to be another super story for us this year...we will have all but forgotten VJ by years end (that's just my opinion of coarse)

Pete Spinning said... May 16, 2012, 3:42:00 PM

Personally, I just wear my Jamarcus Russel jersey like a diapy, and hose it off in the driveway each time I have a BM. Speaking of BM's, I have to go to the Carson, and take a big fat steamy Palmer right now!

Maybe I'll check out that Royal interview while I'm in there!

Pete Spinning said... May 16, 2012, 3:57:00 PM

Yo Raiderhater... check out my neighbor's God Awful Raider Suburban. He's a pretty cool guy and all, but I throw up in my mouth everytime I walk by it... hahahahaha!!/media/set/?set=a.10150839186759563.413775.590014562&type=1

RaiderHater said... May 17, 2012, 9:51:00 AM

 What a fool...but at least he can drive around Compton or East LA without fear of any gang harassment :)  I am not saying that only gang bangers support the Raiders....but it seems like they are the best spokespersons for that fine Team.  I LOVED your "Jamarcus Russel jersey like a diaper" comment....I freaking laughed sooo hard! 
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
  Oakland (CA)..May 17, 2012...Oakland Raiders practice was delayed for nearly two hours today after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field.  The Head Coach immediately suspended practice and called the police and federal investigators.  After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined that the white substance unknown to players was the Goal Line. Practice resumed after special agents decided the Team was unlikely to encounter the substance again this season. 

The RaiderHater

Pete Spinning said... May 17, 2012, 1:06:00 PM

Hahahaha... Good one! I'm surprised it was chalk... I thought maybe Tyrone Biggums was suiting up for them now, and dropped something...

"FREE CRACK?!!!! Hell yeah, I'll play for the Raiders!"

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