<strong>June 27, 2005</strong>
Source: Fox Sports
Luis Castillo, the 28th overall pick of April's draft, missed almost all of the team's offseason program. But unlike No.12 pick Shawne Merriman, who the sat out the offseason for fear of injury before signing his first contract, Castillo was finishing his final semester at Northwestern. (He took 15 units and graduated with a 3.5 grade-point average.) When he did show up for minicamp and the final two coaching sessions, he was slowly integrated into a defensive line rotation that could see him playing end and tackle. The big and quick Castillo will be a likely third-down replacement at tackle for Jamal Williams. . . .
The Chargers hope to get more distance from Nate Kaeding on his kickoffs, and it appeared in offseason workouts that Kaeding certainly did not get weaker. . . .
There was no word out of the Merriman camp, but he and his advisers undoubtedly took notice that LB Carlos Polk tore his Achilles' on the final day of the team's voluntary coaching sessions and will miss the season.
<strong>SCOUTING REPORT:</strong> Bhawoh Jue was signed as a free agent to replace Jerry Wilson. Provided he beats out Wilson in camp, could be the spark the Chargers desire at free safety. Jue played cornerback with Green Bay as well as safety. Jue is younger than Wilson and the team believes he might be more instinctive and suited to create the turnovers the secondary lacked last season.
<strong>COACH UNDER PRESSURE:</strong> The pressure is on Carl Mauck, who replaces the revered Hudson Houck as offensive line coach. An unproven line overachieved under Houck in 2004 before he left to take the same position (for much more money) with the Miami Dolphins. Houck's unit was helped last year by uncanny good health (just two games lost to injuries by one starter), a benefit Mauck will almost certainly not have the fortune of. The two coaches could not be more different -- Houck being a professorial tactician and Mauck a loud old-school coach.
<strong>INSIDE DISH:</strong> Other than the standoff with first-round draft pick Shawne Merriman, the offseason has been relatively quiet for the Chargers in terms of personnel. The big move for the team was its announcement that it will seek to circumvent the San Diego City Council and get its own measure on the November 2006 ballot for a stadium it would pay to build in exchange for 60 surrounding acres the team would develop. The Chargers, who can begin shopping themselves to other cities in 2007 and move following the 2008 season, have no doubt they will get the 60,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Their problem right now is finding a development partner willing to work with a city government facing the loss of its mayor and significant financial woes.
<strong>TIGHT ENDS ANALYSIS:</strong> GRADE A Antonio Gates is a big play machine, and Justin Peelle is a solid backup with good hands.