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Gilchrist & Wright in a "brotherly" competition

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Blue Bolt, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

    Oct 28, 2009
    CHARGERS: Linked by draft position, Gilchrist, Wright vie for team's nickel back spot
    By SCOTT BAIR sbair@nctimes.com

    SAN DIEGO — Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright will be forever linked in Chargers history.

    The two young cornerbacks come from opposite ends of the country, but were separated by just 32 selections in the 2011 NFL draft. They are unified by the lightning bolt and the long-term future of the Chargers' secondary.

    With Antoine Cason in a contract year and Quentin Jammer on the wrong side of age 33, uncertainty reigns at the cornerback position. The Chargers hope that they drafted solutions last year, but time and the players' work ethic will tell.

    Just because Wright and Gilchrist are connected doesn't mean they have to like each other. It just so happens that they do.

    They're camp roommates and offseason training partners. They even did some traveling together in the offseason, and have pushed each other to be their best.

    "We talk all the time about football and about life," said Gilchrist, who was drafted first at No. 50 overall. "We became friends during the Senior Bowl, and it's been great to have another talented corner to go through this learning process with. That connection is strong, especially because we came in together. There's a lot of competition between us, but there's a brotherly love behind it all. We want the other guy to do well."

    They're currently in a battle to become the team's nickel back, a title likely to be bestowed on Gilchrist. He played that role in college and at times last season in addition to four starts at corner.

    Chargers coach Norv Turner, though, isn't ready to name a leader at the position.

    "I want the best guy," Turner said. "Shareece is really playing well there, and Marcus missed some time (because of an injury) but has caught up quickly. They're going to have a heck of a competition.

    "That said, you're going to end up needing two over the course of the season. And you're going to need four corners to contribute on a regular basis."

    Gilchrist is considered the front-runner between the two because of a strong rookie training camp largely conducted while Wright was out with a hamstring strain. The roles have reversed this season, as Wright has excelled while Gilchrist remains sidelined with the same injury.

    Wright will be heavily featured at nickel back during Saturday's exhibition against the Dallas Cowboys, while Gilchrist will sit out in hopes of returning to action next week.

    Gilchrist seems tailor-made for the nickel spot, but Wright is a good match, too.

    "I think his skill set fits that spot exactly," Turner said. "He has great hands, quick feet and an ability to change direction. He's aggressive and an excellent cover guy who isn't afraid to make a play. That's what you're looking for there."

    Both young players are focused more on individual improvement than on their competition. That's especially true for Wright, who played in just seven games last year, mostly on special teams.

    "I feel like I'm playing well, but I'm nowhere close to my best," Wright said. "The coaches have watched me grow and progress, and I'm sure they know the potential I have. They can help, but it's my job to realize it.

    "I've learned that a lot of it is mental at this level, and the smarter player normally wins. Knowledge is key, and we as young corners understand that."

    Gilchrist certainly does. He doesn't get wrapped up in depth charts, even when he took over Cason's starting role last season. He hasn't let his hamstring injury get him down or make him worry about the possible impact on his playing time.

    "I always think in present terms. Anything else is a distraction," he said. "I'm competitive and I want to win at everything, but I know that a better overall game comes from paying attention to the details. I'm still learning every day. Any time you stop making progress, you're wasting time."

    The Chargers hope both players excel to the point where they push the starters for playing time. Neither is there yet, but both are putting in the necessary work.

    "Big plays will get you recognized, but talent and consistency will get you promoted," Wright said. "I take pride in being a worker. I'll let everything else take care of itself.

    Gilchrist agrees.

    "It's an honor and a blessing to have so much expected of me, but I assure you that my expectations are higher than anyone else's," he said. "Success is built from the inside first, and I'm always striving to be great."

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