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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>

    Is it really a big deal that the Chargers lost return-specialist Darren Sproles with a training camp injury? And if so, why?
    <p class="intro-copy">Sproles, the shifty runner from Kansas State, was a dynamite kickoff returner, averaging 24.3 yards. He was also decent on punts, averaging 6 yards per return - although he lost his job last year when having trouble fielding them.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But he was better this year and seemed headed back to the punt-return role. Now, he won't be doing anything after being placed on injured reserve with a fractured fibula.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"> Missing Sproles could be a bigger blow than it appears on the surface.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Among the reasons first-year starter Philip Rivers was to shine this season was the Chargers reliable special teams - i.e. Sproles - would present Rivers with stellar field position. The thinking was a stingy defense and a good return guy would seldom have Rivers operating out of the shadow of rivals' goal posts.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But Sproles' second season was derailed before it got on track. And that's -- for now - a blow to a team which counted on its return man to the degree the Chargers did.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Michael Turner will get first crack at replacing Sproles on kickoffs. But Turner, while having speed, is built more like a fullback and doesn't feature the cutback ability and pure quickness that Sproles did.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">On punt returns, the position is one big mystery. On Friday night, Cletis Gordon filled the role, and was decent with a long return of 12 yards.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers could go with Eric Parker, but the 6-foot, 180-pound wide receiver isn't built to take the abuse as a returner and the No. 2 wide receiver.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Veteran Keenan McCardell is an option, but does a team really want its 36-year-old, No. 1 wide out absorbing hits from the kamikazes that run down and cover punts?</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">How about Antonio Cromartie? The Chargers have been telling everyone what a great athlete the draft's No. 19 pick is and he has some experience as a returner in college.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">But coach Marty Schottenheimer said Cromartie's plate is too full at the moment in trying to learn the defense, so he won't be considered.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Chargers have to do something - and it's possible they will look outside the roster. But for those looking from inside the Chargers organization, losing Sproles could potentially be a bigger blow than it seems.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>CAMP CALENDAR:</strong> Aug. 22: Night practice at Chargers Park; Aug. 25 Camp ends</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-QB Philip Rivers knows just what Cards QB Matt Leinart is going through. Rivers missed a big chunk of his first training camp and failed to beat out Drew Brees for the starting position in 2004. "It's pretty tough, it is," Rivers said of missing the practice time. "I guess he has missed one preseason game and it's not an easy situation to step into. I can just imagine the leader he was at USC and success he had that he will feel a little uncomfortable. It's a little uncomfortable feeling when you go back and you haven't been there and you hadn't been at practice you just feel ... the people were great here, they welcomed me back and treated me great, but you just feel a little bit uncomfortable. It gives you that little uneasy feeling and I'm sure he will experience that."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-LB Donnie Edwards knows why ex-Charger and current Patriot Junior Seau is such a force: "A lot of times a lot of fans aren't able to see what happens on the inside; how they work to become the player they become. I was privy to see him prepare, see how this guy works out at 5:30 every morning in the weight room. After practice he would be doing something else - he worked at it, watching film. For me, it was great to see someone that caliber being a pro and putting the work in."</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">The Saints have shown some interest in trading for Edwards, but aren't willing to deliver a first-day draft pick.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Earlier in the day of Friday's preseason loss to Chicago, coach Marty Schottenheimer had lunch with Phil Mickelson and saw him play a hole at the PGA Championship.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-The team released CB Raymond Walls.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-S Marlon McCree had his second interception in two preseason games.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Schottenheimer has all but said LaDainian Tomlinson won't get one preseason carry, which would equal last summer's output.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-With Tomlinson chilling, that gives more carries for backup Michael Turner. He had an impressive 45-yard run against the Bears. "It's fun to watch Michael Turner run," Schottenheimer said.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Schottenheimer noted RG Kris Dielman's strong play against the Bears.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-WR Vincent Jackson was released from the hospital after being admitted with a chest contusion suffered in the preseason opener. His status moving forward will be determined, but the club doesn't anticipate him being held back long.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-With Junior Seau signing with the Patriots, the retiring of his No. 55, which was scheduled for Nov. 5, will be delayed.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "You never like to play not very good," Rivers said, "but I think it's good for us. We'll bounce back and get this thing corrected. If everything goes perfect in the preseason, you are setting yourself up for something to happen." - QB Philip Rivers on the team's 24-3 preseason loss to the Bears.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>BATTLE OF THE WEEK:</strong> Leander Jordan vs. Macus McNeill for left tackle.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">As the season draws near, it's obvious counting on returning starter Roman Oben (foot) isn't the way to go. So the competition heats up to replace him, with Jordan so far holding off McNeill, the team's recent second-round pick. While plagued by inconsistency last year when subbing for Oben, Jordan seems to be more steady, maybe pushed by the large presence of McNeill. Still, the Chargers would prefer Oben getting fit fast.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>OTHER BATTLE FRONTS:</strong> Drayton Florence vs. Antonio Cromartie for starting cornerback.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Maybe drafting Cromartie with the 19th overall pick was a good thing for Florence. Since Cromartie's appearance, it appears Florence's game has found another level. Cromartie had a pick in the opening preseason game but also got burned for a big gain. Cromartie might settle as the nickel back, but for now he's trailing Florence to start opposite Quentin Jammer.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">"He's done a good job holding off the challenge," Schottenheimer said.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Charlie Whitehurst vs. A.J. Feeley for the No. 2 quarterback's job.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">Whitehurst got a long audition against the Bears and didn't fare all that well. Whitehurst completed 11 of 19 passes for just 97 yards and was intercepted. The Chargers didn't let Feeley play, so this was probably Whitehurst's big shot: "I've played better," he said.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>ROOKIE REPORT:</strong> CB Antonio Cromartie had three penalties against the Bears, but has played well. He's part of the nickel package.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-Marcus McNeill could be the opening-day starter at left tackle.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-QB Charlie Whitehurst's bid to upend A. J. Feeley for the backup job took a detour Friday night.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-ILB Tim Dobbins could be a force in special teams.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy"><strong>INJURY REPORT:</strong> PR Darren Sproles (leg) IR, out for the season</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-WR Vincent Jackson (chest); he could possibly return to practice this week.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-T Jeromey Clary (ankle); out another week.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-LT Roman Oben (foot) won't be practicing for some time.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-ILB Donnie Edwards (back); not considered serious but no timetable for his return.</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-WR Eric Parker (thumb); could return next week</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-DT Chase Page (knee); out another week</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-WR Sean Coffey (shoulder); out another week</p>
    <p class="intro-copy">-S Hanik Milligan (thumb): status undetermined.</p>

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