Chargers kick off OTAs Posted 7 hours ago By Scott Yoffe http://www.chargers.com/news/article-1/Chargers-kick-off-OTAs/9bc81af7-1004-46f4-96c0-96df1acbef96 The lack of contact did nothing to dampen the high spirits and aggressiveness as the Chargers took the field for first day of Phase III – the first official Organized Team Activity (OTA) – of the team’s offseason program. “Not if you love football,” said quarterback Philip Rivers. “At every level, you’d have Spring ball in high school, you had Spring ball in college, it’s Spring ball. As you progress toward training camp, it’s what we’ve always done.” Officially coined Organized Team Activities, the Chargers will hold 10 such voluntary practices over the next three weeks and they will be followed by the team’s mandatory mini camp in June that will officially conclude offseason preparations for the 2012 season. Today’s session, which featured no notable absences, was structured much like a regular season practice, featuring individual drills, special teams work and several team periods. “It was great to get back out on the field, to get our team on the field and to get the guys out there who are going to make up our team,” said Head Coach Norv Turner. “For our team where we are right now, the way the collective bargaining agreement is set up, has really helped us because it’s given us time to get our guys indoctrinated into the way we do things in the weight room and it’s given us time to go slow in the individual work on the field and get them ready in terms of their individual techniques and learning the system.” While the team has added several new pieces to its offensive arsenal, most eyes are on the defense where John Pagano becomes the Chargers’ third defensive coordinator in the last three seasons. Today was that unit’s first chance to measure itself against Rivers and the Bolts’ high-octane offense. “It was a good first start for everybody,” said inside linebacker Takeo Spikes. “(It was our) first chance to really compete against individuals as a group. We have a lot of work to do but it was a good start today.” You can count Spikes among those who doesn’t believe that the lack of contact hinders the defense’s ability to prepare for the season. “It’s pretty much the same thing,” he explained. “I don’t care about hitting anybody right now. I know better. With the rules being set, we’ve still got the two-hour time window to where we can be on the field for really mostly technique work. That’s why I like it so much because you can’t use brute strength to dominate your opponent so you really have to use technique and be fundamentally sound.” Turner echoed that, telling the media after practice that he has a lot of faith in Jeff Hurd, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, and the program that he runs. Now is the time to combine the work in the weight room with the last few weeks of Phase II, which was teaching with the coaches and finally to bring everything together in competition as Phase III of the program begins. “Now getting on the field and being able to go out and teach our system, we have a lot of new players who have to get on the same page and have to learn what it is to line up and play next to the guy they’re going to be playing next to,” said Turner of the team’s emphasis. “People always refer to our quarterbacks and receivers but I’m talking about a new strong safety in there, a new defensive lineman, a new linebacker, young corners who really haven’t played a great deal in this league. So in all areas we have a lot of new guys and our main emphasis is to get them on the same page and obviously get them to improve as football players.” Among the players who most benefit from this offseason work are the team’s rookies and draft choices. A year ago, the team’s draft class had to learn everything on the fly after the NFL Lockout ended in July. This group has had a chance to learn from the coaches and players from day one. The last portion of each OTA is being devoted entirely to the team’s rookies after the veterans retreat to the locker room. Count rookie outside linebacker and top pick in the ’12 NFL Draft, Melvin Ingram, among those embracing this opportunity. “It’s going really well,” said Ingram. “The coaches are fully explaining it and the players are really helping so it’s gone really smooth.” The Chargers will be on the field twice more this week on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s a busy schedule that includes meetings, weightlifting and a two-hour mid-day practice from 10:45-12:45 p.m. Notes Highlight reel – Vincent Brown made the catch of the day, snagging a pass from Charlie Whitehurst down the deep middle with one hand. Brown also caught two others of a similar variety using both of his mitts. Said Brown of the one-handed grab: “It was a good catch, I’m just trying to make plays. I thought it was going to be too high when I saw it come off his (Whitehurst’s) arm and I just reached up there and tried to make a play and I was able to do that.” Touchdown – Rivers threw one of the day’s prettiest passes, a 34-yard touchdown strike to Eddie Royal that dropped in perfectly over the receiver’s right shoulder. Right place, right time – Right tackle Jeromey Clary got in on the action today catching a pass that was batted in the air by a defensive lineman. It was the first time Clary had caught a football in practice or a game since his days as a collegian at Kansas State. Joked the 320-pounder of today’s foray: “That was not a fun experience. Very tiring. If the ball’s getting tipped down and falling down into my hands, it’s going to be tough to get some yards.” Opportunistic – Cornerback Shareece Wright, one of the aforementioned 2011 draft choices that didn’t have an offseason last year, is taking full advantage of this year’s work. Wright was impressive on day one, breaking up a pass intended for Vincent Brown and intercepting another intended for Richard Goodman. He was extremely modest in review of his work: “It was alright, decent for the first day. It makes a world of difference (to be practicing). I wish we would’ve had this last year but there’s nothing we can do about it. This offseason’s been great just to be able to learn the playbook and the defense.” Back to work – Inside linebacker Jonas Mouton, a second-round pick in ’11 who missed the entire season with a shoulder injury, was back on the field today to work with his teammates. Mouton was also modest when discussing how it felt to be back on the field among his brethren: “It was good. There’s still a lot of work ahead of me, but it was great to be out there running around.” New additions – The Chargers added three new players to the roster before Tuesday’s practice. The team signed strong safety Corey Lynch, a sixth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2008, who spent his rookie season with the Bengals and his last three seasons (2009-11) in Tampa Bay. Lynch tallied 25 tackles and an interception with the Buccaneers in 2011. The team also signed free agent punter Robert Malone, who’s spent time with Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Detroit, and tackle Phil Trautwein, who’s spent time with St. Louis, Cleveland and New Orleans. Really excited to see this years' receiving corps & what a full off season does for last year's rooks.