<strong>July 28, 2005</strong>
Source: <a href="http://www.chargers.com/news/headline_detail.cfm?news_key=2206">Chargers.com</a>
While there may not be a jolly guy in a big red suit heading down any chimneys, for football fans, this weekend is as good as Christmas. On Thursday, the Chargers held their first team meetings of the 2005 season, and the team will hold their first full-squad practice at 8:00 a.m. Friday at Charger Park.
After spending the previous two years in Carson, the Bolts return to San Diego for training camp this year, and fans are invited to attend a majority of the practices. Chargers quarterback Drew Brees is one of many players who are excited to have camp at home.
"Our fans were a big part of what we were able to accomplish last year, and we're glad that it's going to be a little more convenient for them to be a part of training camp," said the 2004 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. "For most of our fans to come up to Carson, it was a full-day event that required planning. Now they can just come over, support us, and really add a lot to the atmosphere that is camp."
The Chargers will conduct two practices a day on most days throughout camp. Friday and Saturday's sessions will be held at 8:00 a.m. and 3:20 p.m. Gates will open one hour before practice and close 30 minutes after its conclusion. Concessions and merchandise stands will be open for fans throughout camp.
With second-round draft pick Vincent Jackson agreeing to terms Thursday, the Chargers have only one remaining draft pick that is unsigned. General Manager A.J. Smith is in the process of working out a deal with linebacker/defensive end Shawne Merriman, the 12th overall pick in April's draft.
The Chargers will also open camp without All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. The former Kent State basketball star is an exclusive rights free agent, meaning that his current deal with the Chargers has expired, but Gates cannot sign with another team. According to a statement released by the Bolts Thursday evening, Smith initiated discussions with Gates in the middle of the 2004 season, but the two sides have yet to reach an agreement.
Smith said Thursday that talks are progressing with both Gates and Merriman, and the team hopes to have them in camp soon.