The San Diego Chargers suffered through a disappointing season in 2011. But as training camp began for the 2012 season a little over a week ago, key players like outside linebacker SHAUN PHILLIPS have said that 2011 is in the past where it should be.
Now 31 years old with 9 years in the NFL, Phillips now talks like a veteran and helps mentor the younger players. Rookie 1st round selection MELVIN INGRAM is also an outside linebacker and Phillips is happy about his development and patience. “I’m really excited about Melvin. He’s (going to) be a special player in this league. A lot of times, first-round draft picks will come in a little hard-headed or a little selfish and he’s not one of those guys.” Ingram is lucky. He has the respect of a veteran, the same player he may someday replace. At the very least, he will be spelling Phillips in games. Ingram is willing to take instruction from players who have been where he’s trying to go.
The Chargers signed sixteen free agents in the offseason and the majority of them will be starters or key alternates throughout the season. Signing that many veteran free agents means that the Chargers have immediate plans to take that next step, hoping to go deep into the playoffs, maybe even to the Super Bowl. The added veterans give younger players a chance to develop. Outside linebacker JARRET JOHNSON is one of those new signees who brings nine years of hard-nosed and disruptive style of play to the Chargers defense. Phillips had this to say about the new free agents on the defensive side of the ball, “They bring some of their philosophies and it mixes with our philosophies and it makes us grow every day.”
VINCENT BROWN was one of many 2011 Chargers rookies limited by the lockout of a year of ago. But the lockout didn’t stop him from being the only Charger 2011 offensive draft pick to make an impact on their offense, as he was sixth on the team in receiving yards with 329 on 19 catches (2 scores). Brown is fully aware of how much of a loss VINCENT JACKSON was to this offense, “He was a big part of this offense. They’ve brought in a lot of new players to try and replace him, a lot of good guys, a lot of different types of receivers that can make a lot of plays.” ROSCOE PARRISH, ROBERT MEACHAM, and EDDIE ROYAL are just a few of the receivers the Chargers brought in to make their offense more exciting than it was last year.
The Chargers’ tight ends each have their own place in this offense. You had better know how to block in addition to being and adept pass catcher if you want to play tight end under Norv Turner. “We’ve used a three tight end set in years past. It’s not like it will be new for us,” says quarterback Philip Rivers. ANTONIO GATES is arguably the best tight end in the NFL, and he has five other tight ends that can complement his skill set.
By Matthew Robinson