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Chargers putting 3rd first

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Blue Bolt, May 28, 2012.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Third is first at Chargers' OTAs
    Written by

    Underline it. Highlight it. Put a gold star next to it.

    Third down was a key defensive shortcoming for the Chargers last season, and on Tuesday morning, they'll work to turn it.

    The offense and defense will, for the first time all offseason, square off in 11-on-11 drills when they begin organized team activities (OTAs). This is the third and final phase of a nine-week voluntary workout program, running 10 days over the next three weeks.

    Players will wear helmets, but they'll be in shorts without shoulder pads.

    “It's obviously all non-contact,” coach Norv Turner said, “but we're going to spend a lot of time on third downs because it's important. We were great on offense on third down, but we weren't good on defense. If we can work on it together, we can help each other get better.”

    The Chargers allowed opponents to convert 49.2 percent of third-down attempts, the worst mark by any NFL team since 1995.

    They've since made some changes.

    Greg Manusky is out and John Pagano is in at defensive coordinator.

    Linebackers Jarret Johnson and Demorrio Williams were among the veterans signed, and the Chargers opened the draft with three defensive players: outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, defensive end Kendall Reyes, and safety Brandon Taylor.

    Health helps, too.

    Defensive end Luis Castillo (leg), outside linebacker Larry English (foot), and inside linebacker Jonas Mouton (shoulder) combined to appear in just six games in 2011. Mouton was limited early last week with a hamstring injury, but all three are expected to be full participants Tuesday.

    The offense has a different challenge.

    It went 48.8 percent on third down, second best in the league, and will work to maintain, if not build on, that success despite a new look.

    Last year, running back Mike Tolbert had the team's most rushes (16) and receptions (19) on third down while wide receiver Vincent Jackson had the third-most catches (16) for a team-high 290 yards.

    Both left via free agency.

    Running back Ryan Mathews will see an expanded role, and between adding wide receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, the maturation of second-year wide receiver Vincent Brown, and a deeper group of tight ends, the Charger hope to find that lost production.

    But OTAs won't be all third down, all the time.

    When not doing individual and special-teams sessions, the Bolts will focus on their two-minute and red-zone scenarios, Turner said.

    The Chargers look for bigger plays out of their two-minute offense. In the red zone, the defense struggled in goal-to-go situations, allowing offenses to score touchdowns 82.6 percent of the time, worst in the NFL.

    OTAs are closed to the public and scheduled to run this week through Thursday. They'll continue June 5-7 and wrap up June 11-14.

    A mandatory minicamp will be held June 19-21. Training camp begins in late July.
     

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