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'Football smarts' key for Gregory

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Undrafted Gregory becoming increasingly important part of Chargers secondary

    By Tod Leonard
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    8:08 p.m. August 13, 2009

    SAN DIEGO – Steve Gregory was that kid, the one who can be found on every elementary school playground in America. He was the boy who brought his own football for recess because he always had to have a game going.

    He was the natural athlete, the kid everybody wanted on their team.
    “I always had to have the ball in my hands,” Gregory said.

    There is a gift those kids possess, an instinct, that can't be taught or bought, and it has given Gregory a dream of an opportunity.

    Despite not being the fastest defensive back or the biggest (5-foot-11, 195) on the Chargers, the fourth-year, formerly undrafted free agent out of Syracuse has increasingly become a significant part of the defense.

    After going his first 42 games with the Chargers as a backup and special teams performer, Gregory got his first starts late last season when Clinton Hart suffered a shoulder injury. Gregory played impressively in the Chargers' undefeated December, and in training camp he has been working with the first team in the nickel defense, which the team uses a lot.

    Gregory, 26, cites the playground quality of “football smarts” as the reason he's come so far.

    “It's being able to pick up the defense, being able to know a lot of different positions,” he said. “If somebody goes down at a certain position, I might not have gotten reps at it, but I know the position and I can go in there and do the job.

    “It's being able to understand the game, and then my physical ability to react,” he added. “Seeing things develop has helped me along the way. I've always had the sense when I'm on the field – I feel things before they happen sometimes.”

    At safety, Gregory probably doesn't touch the ball as much as he would like, but he had his fill of it as a kid. On the JV team at Curtis High School in Staten Island, N.Y., he averaged five touchdowns a game. That got him quickly promoted to varsity, where he amassed some incredible career statistics: 2,703 yards rushing, 1,037 yards receiving, 606 yards passing, 51 touchdowns, 184 tackles and five interceptions.

    He was an outstanding baseball player, too, getting tryouts with the Mets and Yankees before choosing football at Syracuse.

    Gregory's first choice would have been to play running back for the Orangemen, but he was deemed too slight at 170 pounds. “They wanted a big bruiser back there,” he said with a smile.

    Instead, Gregory started doing the bruising at cornerback, although there would be a brief detour for a time at receiver. When a new coaching staff arrived at Syracuse for his senior season, Gregory asked to be moved back to defense.

    It was a Syracuse connection that brought Gregory to San Diego when he went undrafted in 2006. About 20 teams called, but the Chargers stood out because a former coach with the Orangemen, Brian Stewart, was San Diego's defensive backs coach under Marty Schottenheimer.

    Gregory's reasoning: “It's better to go somewhere that you know someone, and what better place than San Diego?”

    Gregory was cut after his first training camp, re-signed for the practice squad, got on the active roster early in the first season, toiled mostly on special teams, and last August the team showed its confidence by awarding him a three-year, $4.8 million deal.

    He was still deemed to have a precarious roster position last training camp, but that's not the case this year.

    “I don't think about whether I'm on the bubble or not. You've got to come in with the approach that you have to make the team,” he said. “You have to work hard.”

    It is an ethic that comes naturally to the son of two New York cops. His father, Steve, and stepmother, Judy, worked many years in the Brooklyn South precinct before retiring. Steve Gregory dug through the ash and rubble after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and suffers breathing problems today.

    “They were cops trying to enforce the law,” Gregory said. “There is a discipline I learned from that. My approach to things is very straight forward. Do your job, get it done, and do it the right way.”

    Nuts 'n' Bolts

    A smiling LaDainian Tomlinson said he's “95 percent” sure he'll play in Saturday's exhibition opener against Seattle. Head coach Norv Turner has not said whether Tomlinson will play. Said LT: “He keeps saying he's still thinking about it,” Tomlinson said. “But I think he's going to let me.”

    Rookie linebacker Larry English (hamstring) sat out another practice and seems likely to sit Saturday. Said Turner: “If it's at all at risk, he won't play.”

    Defensive end Ryon Bingham (arm) will not play in the game. Turner said he would decide later whether linebacker Stephen Cooper (ankle), defensive end Jacques Cesaire (calf) and cornerback Cletis Gordon (hamstring) will play. Gordon would seem the only one likely to go.
  2. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Those are code words for "I'm white & not overly athletic". :lol:
  4. coachmarkos

    coachmarkos BoltTalker

    Jul 12, 2009
    I think Gregory has a shot at starting with Weddle.
  5. Alpenbolt

    Alpenbolt BoltTalker

    Sep 9, 2006
    Hobbits should not play football in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball. (See how cleverly I avoided anyone being able to bring up Sproles)

    He is smart I think, but do we really want two smart undersized safeties starting for us?
  6. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    I don't like that English is still out with a hammy

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