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Chargers roll into Rivers era with first full-squad practice

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jul 29, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20060729-1512-fbn-chargerscamp.html">Associated Press</a>

    By Bernie Wilson

    <img width="152" height="234" align="left" title="LaDainian Tomlinson goes through a workout drill Saturday." alt="LaDainian Tomlinson goes through a workout drill Saturday." src="http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/images/060729tomlinson.jpg" />SAN DIEGO – By all accounts, the transition from Drew Brees to Philip Rivers has been as seamless as possible.

    That is, as seamless as it can be when the guy who was pointed out of town was a former Pro Bowl player, and the San Diego Chargers' new starting quarterback has zero NFL starts and a passer rating that isn't nearly as pretty as the star running back's.

    Rivers was running the show on Saturday when the Chargers held their first full-squad training camp practice, and he said he didn't feel much different than he had in the previous two seasons when he was riding the bench.

    Rivers has been around long enough that he didn't even feel compelled to speak during the first team meeting a day earlier. Everybody knows who he is, and the time for talk might be closer to the season, not in late July.

    "You can't deny the fact that you miss Drew," Rivers said after practicing in a drizzle that drove away the recent oppressive heat. "You don't brush that aside, but at the same time, the group of veterans we have, the type of players you have, they knew how to handle it. They knew it's part of it.

    "At the same time, I was able, in the past few years, to at least lend them enough confidence to where, 'Hey, this guy, we can get done what we want to get done.'"

    Running back LaDainian Tomlinson said Rivers has been considered a leader even though he wasn't the starter.

    "If you have a young guy who hasn't been here and is coming in taking over the starting quarterback job, you don't know the guy," Tomlinson said. "You've got to get to know him some, you've got to get to know his personality, the way he is.

    "Fortunately for us, Philip has been here. We know what he's all about. We've been around him in the locker room. He's done a great job of coming in here early on and not saying much, learning from Drew and just soaking everything in."

    Rivers might have been the starter back in 2004, when the Chargers got him and a handful of picks for Eli Manning in a draft-day swap with the New York Giants. But a long training camp holdout allowed Brees to keep the starting job. Brees led the Chargers to the 2004 AFC West title, and had a solid season last year even though a December collapse left San Diego 9-7 and third in the AFC West.

    Brees injured his right shoulder in the meaningless final game, and after having surgery, was deemed by general A.J. Smith to be damaged goods. Brees signed with New Orleans, leaving it on Rivers' shoulders to help get San Diego back to the playoffs for just the second time in 11 seasons.

    Rivers is trying to keep the same approach as he did the last two years.

    But he admits he's excited he's getting a chance to play.

    "Once you get to now, where camp is, it's here," he said. "We're two weeks away from where we're playing a game. The day I've been waiting for and what this team has been building and working toward all year is here, and we've got to approach it that way."

    After starting an NCAA-record 51 straight games at North Carolina State, Rivers always prepared as if he were the starter here, even though he wasn't.

    "I've set that foundation the past couple of years for the opportunity," he said. "This whole offseason I took pride in being a leader and accepting that role. It's one that becomes more and more important each day you get closer to the season."

    Left guard Kris Dielman says nothing changes for the linemen, although the Chargers don't know yet who will start at left tackle, what with Roman Oben coming off two offseason foot surgeries.

    "You've still got to protect, you've still got to do your thing," Dielman said. "Philip's doing well. It's just a little different with him. We've had all summer to get used to him. I think we're in a good little rhythm with him, so I think we'll be all right.

    "He hasn't started a game yet but he's already our leader in the locker room, on the offense," Dielman said.

    Rivers has completed 30 passes in two seasons, with one touchdown and one interception. By comparison, Tomlinson threw three touchdown passes last year and has four in his career.

    Besides the rain, Tomlinson said the full-squad opener "was a little bit different, obviously because of the quarterback situation.

    "We're just eager to get out there on the field because it's a challenge," Tomlinson said. "Everybody is saying, 'Can they win with a new quarterback? It's always a challenge for us athletes when people start talking about what we're going to do. It's a new challenge for us, and we look forward to proving people wrong."
     

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