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Fans treated to full pads

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    By Christopher Smith, Chargers.com
    Posted 2 hours ago

    Nearly 4,000 Chargers fans watched San Diego practice in full pads for two hours Sunday at Chargers Park. It escalated the energy and intensity of the day’s practice, the players said.

    SAN DIEGO – Not much distilled the natural sounds of training camp during the first week.
    An occasional camera shutter clicked, the only noise that dared challenge the grunts and dialogue between the men on the field.
    Sunday discarded that pattern fast as nearly 4,000 fans watched the first open practice at Chargers Park. Some even tailgated before the gates opened.
    Anxious Chargers faithful were prepared to erupt, greeting the players with appreciation while they stretched. The most action-packed practice yet featured newly-signed first round pick Ryan Mathews and a host of the NFL’s most recognizable names getting their work feet from their energetic fan base.
    But one of the unquestioned stars was the protective material tucked between jersey and flesh.
    Full pads transformed every drill. Gunners that coasted downfield with smooth, unbroken strides found themselves detained by two human roadblocks. Receivers that ripped down the sideline with textbook routes had to contend with a host of defensive backs disrupting them at the line of scrimmage. And the players along the line switched their focus to football staples like pad level and leverage.
    “You get the juices going a little extra,” Scott Mruczkowski said. “They’re already going because it’s the first day of hitting, then you get the fans screaming in the background, that hypes you up a little more. You break a run, they cheer. It picks up the tempo a little bit, definitely.”
    There’s something to be said for hand-eye coordination and timing, but physical contact speaks to athletes in a way that other things can’t. It offers a distinct competitive joy.
    “A hit is a hit. A stripped ball is a stripped ball. An interception is an interception. You just get paid for it now. It’s still a child’s game,” Jyles Tucker said.
    “When the fans are out there saying your name and they’re chanting and cheering, if you’re on the good end or the bad end, it’s going to make a difference on the next play you’re in. If you just made a magnificent play and the fans are going crazy, your confidence is going to be up that much more. If you get beat and the fans are like that, your focus is going to be that much more. I love the fans.”

    FLOYD THRILLS: Magnified by the crowd, action came steady Sunday.
    Every sequence of plays produced highlights, but perhaps none stood out like a pair of catches authored by Malcom Floyd.
    The 6-foot-5 receiver twice stretched the field with Philip Rivers, collecting deep jump balls despite double teams. Each time, the ball ricocheted in the air for an instant before he snatched it in his gloves as his legs returned to the ground.

    NOT SO FAST: A handful of Chargers made interceptions, but it would be difficult to pinpoint one more athletic than the one credited to Shaun Phillips. The outside linebacker tracked a pass with his eyes, then skied to spear it with an outstretched hand just as it appeared the ball would float past for a completion.

    BOLTS: Darren Sproles secured the first live punt, then skittered up the sideline untouched, prompting appreciation from the crowd … Donald Strickland made another nice play in coverage, tipping a pass that Steve Gregory intercepted … Quentin Jammer also had an interception during a drill between the receivers and defensive backs.

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