<strong>July 29, 2005</strong>
Source: <a href="http://www.chargers.com/news/headline_detail.cfm?news_key=2207">Chargers.com</a>
When the San Diego Chargers opened training camp in Carson a year ago, All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson needed just one word to describe his goal for the season: playoffs.
With his team returning all 24 starters to a squad that won a division title, Tomlinson needed twice as many words to describe his aspirations for 2005: Super Bowl.
Friday morning, Tomlinson and the Chargers officially began their run to Detroit and Super Bowl XL as they conducted their first full-team practice of the season.
"I thought our tempo and energy was really good," Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "Our offense turned the ball over twice, which is too much even for the first practice. We'll get those things taken care of. Guys were excited to be out here today. It's good to be on the field again."
Roughly 1,000 fans filled the stands at Chargers Park to watch the Bolts participate in their first drills of the new season. The players seemed to be pleased with what the fans had to add.
"It was nice to hear them cheering and reacting to plays," linebacker Donnie Edwards said. "It adds a little energy to what's going on. We're happy to be at home for camp this year, and hopefully our fans enjoy us being here as well."
Chargers' second-round pick Vincent Jackson, who reported to San Diego on Thursday after reaching an agreement with the team, drew plenty of reaction from the fans. On one particular play, Jackson drew a loud applause after dragging his feet along the sideline to make a difficult catch. Later in practice, Jackson mishandled a deep pass from quarterback Philip Rivers, and the crowd and his teammates gave him a hard time.
"The defensive backs were saying that his pockets were too heavy after signing that contract," joked Schottenheimer. "They said he had too many dollar bills in his hands to catch the football. He's a confident guy, and he laughed it off. We're going to see plenty of great catching from Vincent as camp progresses."
Defensive end Adrian Dingle was the only player who did not practice Friday morning. Schottenheimer said that for the time being, Dingle and defensive end David Ball will rotate practices with each sitting out one practice each day. Dingle is nursing an injured knee, and Ball underwent surgeries on his back, shoulder, and foot during the offseason.
Linebacker Ben Leber spent a significant amount of time in a protective boot during the offseason but was able to go Friday morning. Schottenheimer was happy with what he saw from the fourth-year veteran.
"I talked to Ben after practice, and he said he felt fine," Schottenheimer said. "He moved around and made a couple of plays. I was pleased with how he performed."
Tight end Antonio Gates and rookie linebacker/defensive end Shawne Merriman were not present Friday as both players continue to work through contract situations. Gates, an exclusive rights free agent, is working with the Chargers on a long-term deal. Merriman is still in the process of coming to an agreement on his rookie contract.
"There is dialogue, but there's no progress to report," said Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith. "Sometimes these things take five minutes, sometimes they take months. All I can tell you is that we're talking and trying to work it out."
The New Orleans Saints reached an agreement with offensive tackle Jammal Brown Friday morning. Brown was taken 13th overall, one spot behind Merriman. The Carolina Panthers also came to terms with Thomas Davis, who was taken 14th overall.
"I've been in this business a long time, and that's what it is â€“ business," Schottenheimer said of the contract situations. "I'm not panicking. We're going to get them taken care of."
The Chargers will hit the field again at approximately 3:50 this afternoon for their second practice of the day.