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The first of four exclusive special teams practices took place Tuesday morning.

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    By Christopher Smith, Chargers.com
    Posted 2 hours ago

    SAN DIEGO – The labor required by training camp isn’t limited to full-squad practice.
    In addition to the meetings, treatment and lifting that occupy the players from dawn until about 10 p.m., those involved with special teams have four additional 45-minute practices during camp. That’s about half the 80-man roster.
    The first of those took place Tuesday morning. The players typically work through two special teams periods during normal practice, but the exclusive sessions give them an opportunity to fine-tune one of the most technical aspects of football.
    “Special teams focuses a lot on angles, a lot on technique, almost more than offense and defense because there’s so many different things going on. Everybody’s doing something different,” said fullback Jacob Hester, who worked as the up man on kickoff returns. “It’s pretty tough and it’s something you have to work on to get your timing and footwork down. Special teams (players) seem to be the guys that work the hardest and run the fastest on the football field. You definitely have to be ready for anything.”
    The work isn’t limited to rookies and specialists. Veterans like Ryon Bingham, Kris Wilson and Steve Gregory participated.
    Special teams coach Steve Crosby implored the players to hustle as blue and white jerseys mingled. Difficult to tell the coverage team apart from the return team because of the mix of offensive and defensive players, so NFL teams hand out red helmet covers to identify the units on film.
    Many players handle responsibilities unique to their typical skill set. Hester plays a similar role at fullback, where he’s used to block but can also carry the football. The same goes for his role as up man on kickoff returns and punts, but he’s more of a defensive end on punt coverage.
    “It’s fun to get out there and do different stuff like that because you get to be a part of the whole team,” Hester said. “I’m really like the defense for a little bit, so it’s kind of fun.”
    With 11 days until the first preseason game, the Chargers must get ready to face an opponent while evaluating players and preparing for the regular season as well. Because of the full-field, physical nature of special teams, it might be the most challenging aspect to simulate in practice.
    “You try to make things as game-like as you can as you go through these periods, but games are different, special teams particularly. You (will) see the guys that’ll go out and make a play and guys that’ll turn it loose and use the things they learned during the week,” Head Coach Norv Turner said.
    “You have to learn the system. You have to learn what your job is. You have to learn to work with the different guys. But again, in the kicking game, it’s about being aggressive, competitive and going out and making plays.”

    RED ZONE: The Chargers ran 36 plays in the red zone during Tuesday’s full-pads practice.
    The two drills initiated some entertaining matchups for fans, including Malcom Floyd against Quentin Jammer. Turner liked what he saw.
    “Practice was outstanding,” Turner said. “We try to create a lot of tough situations for both sides of the ball. I think they handled them well. When you get down in there, it’s great competition. Everything tightens down. Obviously we know how critical it is to a game. We’ve been outstanding down there and we’ll spend a lot of time down there now that we’ve introduced it.”

    BOLTS: Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles each drew applause for their work during an inside run drill … Seven different Chargers made interceptions during the evening practice … Donald Butler and Jeff Hansen faced each other in an Oklahoma drill to start practice. Darrell Stuckey and Seyi Ajirotutu also took part … Mathews held his own during a pass protection drill against the linebackers … The Chargers continue to give a handful of players repetitions at kickoff and punt return, including vets Darren Sproles, Buster Davis and Nathan Vasher … Tackle Tra Thomas underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee and is expected to miss about two weeks.

    PRACTICE WEATHER: Sunny, 76 degrees.

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