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Chargers Team Report - 08/13/09

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Aug 15, 2009.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm" target="_blank">USA Today</a>

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/images/080722castillo220.jpg"><img title="Luis Castillo" src="http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/images/080722castillo220.jpg" alt="Luis Castillo" width="161" height="218" /></a></div>

    Might Luis Castillo give the Chargers more bang for their bucks?

    Castillo signed a seven-year contract extension in July 2008 valued at $48 million with $17.5 in guaranteed money, one that will keep him in San Diego through 2014.

    But the Chargers are hoping from here on out he can be more productive.

    While Castillo recorded a career-high 53 tackles, he had just 1.6 sacks and six tackles for losses in 2008.

    That's a lot of lettuce being spread his way for numbers which hardly jump off the statistical page.

    To be fair, an end in a 3-4 alignment has to do the dirty work and let his teammates reap the benefits. The ball-carriers are funneled toward the linebackers, and they get the lion's share of tackles and headlines.

    But it was in this same 3-4 system in 2006 when Castillo had 7.0 sacks and 10 tackles for losses.

    So what gives?

    Castillo has been slowed the past two seasons by ankle injuries. And he knows there is a taller ceiling to his game.

    "It's not to say that there weren't good games and good moments, but I have higher expectations for myself," he said. "My coaches do too, which is a good thing because the expectations are based upon your ability. You have to be able to put it all together."

    Defensive end Jacques Cesaire said there is more to Castillo that a fine lines on a stat sheet.

    "Everybody equates big contracts with huge numbers," Cesaire said. "Nobody sees the little things that Luis does as far as playing sound, gap control defense. If you go back and look at the film, Luis consistently beats his man in one-on-one situations.

    "In our profession, defensive linemen are graded on their sack production.

    "Unless you're a beast like Jamal Williams who takes on three blockers at once, nobody cares about what you do unless you hit the quarterback. There's nobody that works harder at that than Luis, but he does so many little things right that people often forget about."

    Castillo doesn't forget those checks he's cashing. But he doesn't dwell on it.

    "(The contract) is a burden if you allow yourself to go out and not prepare the way you need to," Castillo said. "It starts eating at you, but if you go out and give it all you have and are trying your best, it's not an issue and you sleep well at night."

    Others, according to Castillo, better not go to sleep on him.

    "Coming off the last two years with ankle injuries, even though I finished the year playing, took its toll on me during the offseason," Castillo said. "You make excuses for yourself. You're hurt, your body's not where it should be and you give yourself an out sometimes when you're not able to do the things you need to. It's been great to get back to basics and really work."

    Castillo said with that work comes production-even if sometimes it is hard to recognize.

    "I don't measure in numbers, but in being able to win certain situations," Castillo said. "You can get a 10-sack season and that's great, but sometimes that doesn't happen. As long as you feel like you're winning one-on-one situations and you're putting yourself in position to make big plays, that's all that matters. That's what I want, to get (back) to that again."

    Camp Calendar: Aug. 12: Open practice at Qualcomm Stadium.

    Aug. 27: Camp closes.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    • DT Jamal Williams practiced in the first seven sessions before taking a workout off. Williams is entering his 12th season and the team is trying to keep him fresh-but he's feeling fit and getting the work in. "After a while you learn to practice efficiently," Williams said. "(Coach) Norv (Turner) has emphasized that we're going to do some thumping, but we're going to take care of the players because health is the main key to our success."

    • CB Antonio Cromartie was fined $2,500 for a Twitter send which complained about the food served at the team's training camp. He said in his tweet that the food could be a reason why the Chargers haven't won a Super Bowl. Cromartie thought the fine was "excessive" and said he wouldn't take back what he said.

    • FB/RB Jacob Hester is playing at 238 pounds, about eight pounds heavier than he was last year. Hester looks more relaxed and comfortable compared to his play this time last summer. He was as high as 242 pounds during minicamp, but the coaching staff suggested he trim down. "They put me at a goal weight, and I was able to hit it," said Hester, who weighed 250 briefly in high school. "It was easy to gain the weight, and it doesn't bother me as far as moving around is concerned. I'm comfortable where I'm at, and I'm ready to get after it. If I can stay at this weight, I'm going to be fine."

    • Could this be the home season of TV blackouts? The Chargers are warning fans that could be forthcoming as ticket sales show just one game-against the Eagles-being sold out.

    • CB Cletis Gordon continues to have a good camp, but it's tough seeing where he would play more. It's a crowded backfield and Gordon knows it. "I don't really concern myself where I fit in," said Gordon, who played on some of the team's nickel packages last year because of injuries.

    • Rookie DT Vaughn Martin continues to absorb the learning curve from playing in college in Canada to the NFL. "A couple of guys were making the joke (my first) day in pads, that was my first day I ever played football in my life-officially."

    Quote To Note: "That's steep man. That's half a new set of rims or something. Those had better be some powerful words and they better be reaching a lot more than the 40,000 people I have (following me) right now."-LB Shawne Merriman on teammate Antonio Cromartie being fined $2,500 for his Twitter remarks.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    • WR Buster Davis was making it a point to making in through training camp without visiting the trainer's room. But the oft-injured, former first-round pick is ailing with a tight quad. The team's patience with Davis is growing thin.

    • RB Michael Bennett is having to fight to keep his roster spot. He needs a big showing in the preseason games or the veteran could be cut.

    • LT Marcus McNeill continues to shine in camp. McNeill is moving freely again after having neck surgery in the offseason; he now wears a neck brace.

    • CB Quentin Jammer continues to open eyes with his play. Jammer is being stingy with the receivers in practice, to the point some are complaining about his physical play.

    • RB Darren Sproles continues to return punts and kicks, despite now being playing with a $6 million contract. While Sproles will be used more in the offensive base packages, he will continue as the kick and punt returner.

    Battle Of The Week: OGs Kynan Forney vs. Louis Vasquez for the starting job on the right side.-This spirited competition is picking up steam, due in part to the team going with pads in some of the workouts. Forney has the experience but Vasquez is making up ground with his physical play. Forney was awarded $4.8 million contract extension in the offseason, despite not taking a snap last season. But Vasquez isn't giving any quarter and while there is a chance he will fall short, it won't be for the lack of effort.

    Other Battle Fronts: Antonio Cromartie vs. Antoine Cason for starting RCB-This probably won't be much of a competition but it is worth watching. Cromartie had a huge dropoff from 10 to two interceptions last year-he later said he was hurt. Cason, in his rookie year, did well in the nickel role. While it is likely a stretch to see Cason beat out Cromartie, it is worth watching if Cromartie doesn't rebound.

    Darren Sproles vs. Antonio Cromartie for punt- and kick-return duties. Cromartie has been getting plenty of work fielding punts and kicks; that said, among the reasons Sproles was awarded a $6.6 million franchise player contract was his contributions in the return game. But Sproles might need a breather if he is being used more in the base offense. If so, Cromartie-a great athlete-could fill in.

    Player Of The Week: WR Legedu Naanee-This might be the year Naanee gets more into the offensive mix, and the versatile player is performing like he wants more reps. He had a solid week, lining up in various spots-he played quarterback for some of his time at Boise State. Naanee would be a perfect player to run in a Wildcat style offense and considering how Norv Turner likes to tinker with players and schemes, that is a possibility. But Naanee was making most of his noise in the slot, with Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson out wide. "He looks really good," QB Philip Rivers said of Naanee. "He's made some really good catches. He's a strong, physical guy. Added Naanee, a third-year pro: "I feel good out there but it's still early.

    Rookie Report: Top pick Larry English continues to look solid. With Shawne Merriman going easy on his knee as camp progresses, English has been running with the No. 1 defense. - RG Luis Vasquez was impressive once the team went into pads. - RB Gartrell Johnso is running so well he may cost veteran Michael Bennett his roster spot. - Tyronne Green continues to get work at guard and center in a backup capacity. - Vaughn Martin has been getting most his work at defensive end and not at tackle. - WR Demetrius Byrd, a seventh-round pick, remains unsigned.

    Injury Report: LB Stephen Cooper (ankle) could be compromised in practice this week and might go easy on the injury.

    • LB Darry Beckwith (hamstring) is day-to-day.

    • LB Larry English (hamstring) has missed a week of practices but could return early this week.
     

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