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Fourth-stringer Ochs finds time where he can

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. robdog
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    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <strong>August 20, 2005</strong>
    Source: <a href="http://northcountytimes.com/articles/2005/08/10/sports/professional/chargers/23_13_418_9_05.txt">North County Times</a>

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/ochs01.jpg" class="right" alt="Craig Ochs" title="Craig Ochs"/>SAN DIEGO ---- The fans, autograph hounds and camera crews were long gone from Chargers Park. Most of the players were already sitting down to dinner. Members of the grounds crew were on the practice field collecting divots and firing up the leaf blowers.

    And then there was Craig Ochs.

    Some 40 minutes after practice had adjourned Tuesday evening, the rookie quarterback was still on the field slinging passes to safety Robb Butler. They were the only two players left on the field. At one point Butler was running slant routes and using a startled trainer to simulate a lurking safety.

    "I don't get a ton of throws in practice," Ochs said, "so any time I can get extra work in, its pretty good for me."

    At this stage, Ochs seems willing to take whatever action he can get. An undrafted free agent out of Montana, he sees only scant reps during practice, outside of position drills.

    He's hoping for the opportunity to play late in the game Thursday when the Chargers open the exhibition schedule on the road against the Green Bay Packers. It might happen. It might not.

    "We haven't decided," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We won't make that decision until Thursday morning."

    Said Ochs: "Hopefully, they can sneak me in a couple of series late in the game. If so, I can't wait. Lambeau Field ---- what a great place to play your first game."

    Ochs is No. 4 on the Chargers' depth chart behind starter Drew Brees and backups Philip Rivers and Cleo Lemon. It is a tenuous spot to say the least.

    The team carried four quarterbacks last season, but there's no guarantee it will again. Schottenheimer said he hasn't thought about it yet, and was equally noncommittal when asked if Ochs might be able to push Lemon for the No. 3 spot.

    "It's far too early," Schottenheimer said. "We'll take a look at Cleo during the preseason. We had a purpose in keeping him a year ago as the fourth quarterback."

    It's possible they might have a similar purpose with Ochs, considering either Brees or Rivers likely will be gone by the start of next season. But right now, no one is saying.

    "Either way, it's in God's hands," Ochs said, "and I'll be grateful for whatever happens."

    At 23, Ochs seems to have a perspective that belies his youth. Much of that comes from the tumultuous ---- and often painful ---- start to his college career.

    He was the starting quarterback at the University of Colorado in 2000 and 2001, and he was the Buffaloes' starter in 2002 until fate intervened. In an early-season game against San Diego State, Ochs was sacked hard by Akbar Gbaja-Biamila and suffered the third concussion of his young career.

    Because of injury and a conflict with the coaching staff, he never played at Colorado again. Ochs even considered quitting the game.

    He eventually recaptured his love for football at Division I-AA Montana, throwing 33 touchdown passes last year and earning looks from the NFL. Now, he hopes to catch the eye of the Chargers' staff.

    "When I'm getting frustrated out on the field because I'm not getting reps or whatever, (my college) experience comes in handy," Ochs said. "I realize that life is much more than just football."

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