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Healthy Rivers, Chargers open first minicamp under Turner

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, May 5, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-chargers-minicamp&amp;prov=ap&amp;type=lgns" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/32911_699w393h.jpg" alt="Philip Rivers and company at the 2007 mini camp" height="220" width="291" />

    By Bernie Wilson

    SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Not quite four months after their playoff meltdown, the San Diego Chargers reconvened on Friday with a new coach, a healthy quarterback and a resolve to actually win a game in January.

    The Chargers opened their first minicamp under Norv Turner, who was hired in February after Marty Schottenheimer was fired because of what team president Dean Spanos called a "dysfunctional relationship" with general manager A.J. Smith.

    Although Friday's first session wasn't much more than glorified touch football, quarterback Philip Rivers ran around without any hint of the foot injury that put him in a cast following San Diego's stunning 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots in their playoff opener.

    The turmoil in the front office aside, the Chargers didn't change much in the offseason. Unrestricted free agent guard Kris Dielman turned down more money from Seattle in order to keep blocking for NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, and the Chargers will hold onto Tomlinson's backup, Michael Turner, after failing to trade him during the draft. Now off the market, Turner can leave as an unrestricted free agent after next season.

    "Obviously what we had was good and I think all we can do this offseason is make it better so we can win that first one in the playoffs and win the second one and move on up," Rivers said. "It worked to get us to 14-2 but we've got to figure out and find that edge that will get us over the hump."

    Led by Tomlinson's remarkable season, highlighted by his NFL-record 31 touchdowns and 186 points, the Chargers had the league's best record and were favored by many to go to the Super Bowl.

    But they pulled off a pratfall against New England, their second straight playoff loss under Smith and their fourth straight dating to the Super Bowl following the 1994 season.

    Rivers said the Chargers are "pretty upbeat."

    "Obviously we're disappointed with the way it ended," he said. "If you look at the season over the course of the whole season, it was a heck of a year and we accomplished a lot. Obviously we have nothing to show for it, necessarily. But I think we have a lot to build on and we understand how close we are. At the same time, what's going to give us that edge that puts us over the top?"

    The Chargers hope Turner has the answers that they couldn't come up with under Schottenheimer, the only coach to win 200 regular-season games and not make it to the Super Bowl.

    Although Turner was 58-82-1 in head coaching stints with Washington and Oakland, he was one of the masterminds behind the Dallas offenses led by Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin and NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith. He was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator for three years, including when they won the Super Bowl after the 1992 and '93 seasons.

    "I think he fits right into this team perfectly," Rivers said. "He knows what he's doing. He's been around. He knows what it takes to win."

    Rivers sprained his right foot in the regular-season finale against Arizona on Dec. 31 and aggravated it in the playoff loss. The injury kept him out of the Pro Bowl.

    "It feels good," Rivers said. "I wouldn't call it 100 percent, but there's no pain. It's a matter of retraining everything."

    Rivers said he was in a cast for six weeks and in a walking boot after that.

    "It's been a long offseason, I'll tell you that. It's hurt my golf game a little bit," Rivers joked.

    Tomlinson, meanwhile, is still dealing with the death of his father, Oliver Tomlinson, 71, in a traffic accident in Texas on Feb. 23.

    "There hasn't been a day that's gone by that I haven't thought about it," Tomlinson said. "I think it's going to be like that for a while. It's a part of life, you know. But you never expect it. You think parents are going to live forever but that's not realistic. I definitely miss him.

    "Otherwise, I'm doing OK. All you have is the memories now, the memories of things he taught me and the way he lived his life and the good times we had."

    Putting 2006 in perspective, Tomlinson said: "What I took away from it is I had a really good season. I really don't try to make it more than that. My thing has been to always just be consistent. And some years are going to be better than others.

    "Can it be done again? I don't know. I'm definitely going to try. We'll have to wait and see what happens."
     

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