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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Aug 8, 2005.

  1. robdog
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    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <strong>August 8, 2005</strong>
    Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>

    Kicker Nate Kaeding had plenty of motivation at the Chargers' recent lone camp workout at Qualcomm Stadium. It was here that Kaeding's and the Chargers', season came crashing down when he misfired from 40 yards in the overtime playoff loss to the Jets.

    "It works for me to hit a bunch of balls (here) and try to put everything behind me," Kaeding said.

    The second-year pro from Iowa was solid as a rookie. He connected on 20-of-25 field-goal attempts, but that one miss was what the Charger Nation took with them into the offseason.

    That goes for Kaeding, too.

    "It's great to get out here, with a little bit of pressure, and try to get that last kick of last year out of my mind as much as possible," Kaeding said. "You think of it, and we were over there doing field goals at the same upright. I nailed one in the exact spot I missed it last year."

    One different approach Kaeding will use this year is getting over to the stadium at least once a week to kick off the Jack Murphy Field turf. Qualcomm Stadium does offer some tricky winds, with the breeze coming from the ocean, then bouncing off the eastern stands. The more kicks in these condition, all the better for Kaeding.

    "This is where you make your bread," Kaeding said.

    And about that key missed kick? Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who has more than his share of heartbreaking playoff losses, is confident Kaeding will rebound.

    "I've been involved in a lot of kicks like that and if you make them you are a great player," Schottenheimer said. "And if you don't, everybody talks about it until you finally make one.

    "But I said it shortly after the (miss) occurred that if you can pick anybody to deal with that situation, the one guy I said with a certainty who can handle it, it's Nate Kaeding."

    CAMP CALENDAR: Aug. 25: Team breaks camp.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    -OLB Shawne Merriman was asked who gets the fault for him not attending the offseason minicamps and workouts. Merriman was reluctant to participate, not sure the Chargers would negotiate in good faith if he got hurt. "I don't think nobody is to blame," said Merriman, after signing a five-year deal worth a potential $12.75 million. "Like everyone said it's a business and that's the business aspect of it. Several times I thought of catching a flight and just coming out here and playing and knocking some heads around. But you have to put it in perspective that this is your job now, no matter how much you love football and love being on the field with your teammates. If something goes wrong with your job and you're out of work what are you going to do next?"

    -Has CB Quentin Jammer finally turned the corner? He has put a sparkle in Schottenheimer's eye. "Right now, Quentin is probably playing as well as I've seen him play since he's been here," Schottenheimer said.

    Good thing. Playing in the AFC West means tracking the likes of Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Rod Smith, Jerry Rice and Eddie Kennison. "This will be an opportunistic time for us to have him step forward because the competition we have at receiver in this division they will be throwing it around the ballpark a lot, I'm sure," Schottenheimer said. Jammer hasn't performed to his billing as the fifth overall pick of the 2002 draft. But Schottenheimer said that's not entirely fair.

    "You take a guy No. 1 and all of sudden basically you are saying this guy is going to be a Pro Bowl player and it doesn't work that way," he said.

    -The Chargers drew some 10,000 to a practice at Qualcomm Stadium.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "My advice is to just write the check and forget about it." - QB Philip Rivers on the Chargers' tradition of the top pick buying dinner for the veterans, which cost Rivers $25,000 last year. Shawne Merriman will get this year's tab.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Darren Sproles vs. Willie Quinnie for punt returner - Sproles has dropped jaws since showing off his moves in minicamp. But there are some concerns about his ability to field punts. That has opened the door every so slightly for Quinnie, but it's doubtful he can overcome Sproles' talents.

    BATTLE FRONTS: Sammy Davis vs. Jamar Fletcher for nickel back. Davis has the edge, but Fletcher continues to push him. Davis drew praise from coach Marty Schottenheimer during the week...Bhawoh Jue vs Jerry Wilson for the free safety spot has swung decisively in Wilson's favor...Drew Brees vs. Philip Rivers for starting the quarterback spot was never really a competition with Brees coming off a Pro Bowl year. But if it was, Brees would be winning anyway as Rivers struggles with his consistency.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WR Vincent Jackson - He's not going to break into the top three of receivers - Eric Parker, Keenan McCardell and Reche Caldwell - but Jackson continues to draw raves for his fluid ways and ability to shield smaller defensive backs. What amazes those watching him is he moves much like he's much smaller than his 6-5, 241-pound frame. "When he first walked into the locker room, I thought he was Shawne Merriman," said center Nick Hardwick.

    ROOKIE REPORT: Top pick Shawne Merriman has impressed veterans with his attention to detail... DE Luis Castillo has been slowed lately with a foot injury... WR Vincent Jackson has received kudos from receivers coach James Lofton... RB/KR Darren Sproles has solidified his role as the punt returner... OL Wesley Britt, Wes Sims and Scott Mruczkowski continue to battle for backup roles.

    INJURY REPORT:

    - OLB Ben Leber (ankle); out for another week.

    - LB Randall Godfrey (knee) is day to day.

    - T Courtney VanBuren (knee); out another week.

    - TE Ryan Krause (foot) is out another week.

    - WR Malcom Floyd (calf); day to day.

    - LB Marques Harris (back) day to day.

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