<strong>July 9, 2005</strong>
Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>
It was before last year's remarkable season, and Chargers general manager A.J. Smith was talking about the punter who would replace one of the team's most productive and popular players: Darren Bennett.
"We think we have a young guy with the talent to go to the Pro Bowl," Smith said last September of Mike Scifres.
Smith nearly was dead-on.
Scifres had a dream season for the Chargers in 2004, his first as the team's regular punter. And while he didn't quite make the Pro Bowl roster, he did earn Pro Bowl first alternate status to honor his stellar season.
It's easy to say running back LaDainian Tomlinson, quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Antonio Gates or even linebacker Donnie Edwards was the AFC Western Division champs' MVP. But the name which crossed coach Marty Schottenheimer's lips just as often was Scifres.
"He is a weapon," Schottenheimer said on more than one occasion.
Scifres, the Chargers' special teams player of the year, was a boon to Schottenheimer's field-position battles by booming away on numerous efforts.
Scifres finished the year with a 38.4-yard net average, which was third-best in the NFL. Only 23 of his 69 punts were returned, fewest in the league among players punting in all 16 games. Only four punters bettered Scifres' mark of landing 29 of his offerings inside the 20-yard-line.
And Scifres did all this in his first year as the regular punter, dusting off the pressures of replacing Bennett.
-While the first full squad training camp workout will be July 29, coach Marty Schottenheimer's physically demanding Oklahoma drill will be conducted on July 30.
-The Chargers are considering holding two night practices during camp. And like in years past, they also plan on working out one afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium, instead of their team facility.
-Five Chargers recently visited the USS Tarawa off the Southern California coast. LB Donnie Edwards, a huge military buff, was among the Chargers. "Any time I get a chance to be a part of training and interact with the warriors, I do," he said. "This is what it is all about."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When you have a winner, there is a lot of interest." - GM A.J. Smith on the expected large turnouts for the team's upcoming training camp practices at Chargers Park.