July 23, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie (center) catches a pass while defedned by linebacker Jonas Mouton (57) and cornerback Gregory Gatson (31) during training camp at Charger Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Six Observations From Training Camp

I was lucky enough to attend training camp yesterday (Sunday) and I thought I’d share just a few quick observations.  Let me just post a disclaimer that these are only observations from Sunday’s practice; other days may have been different.  Here we go:

1: The defense is dominating the offense

During the 7-on-7 and team drills it was frustrating me a little bit that the offense weren’t really moving the ball or creating big plays.  Then it sort of struck me that the defense was just playing that good.  The d-line was applying great pressure, the linebackers were coming up and making tackles and the DBs were all over the receivers, swatting balls and getting picks.  Now, I’m exclusively talking about first team offense vs. first team defense—and Brown and Alexander were out—but it seemed to me like the defense was light years ahead.  It’s still early, so the offense has plenty of time to catch up, and I think it’s great that the defense is playing so well, it’ll force the offense to grow and adapt.  Defense wins championships.

2: Either Luke Tasker or Dan DePalma will be this year’s Bryan Walters.

Luke Tasker got the crowd on his side from the beginning of the day, hauling in pretty much every pass that came his way.  Then, during one-on-ones, he continued to impress by smoking pretty much anyone who lined up against him.  The crowd around me was buzzing and loving every second, scanning their roster printouts to see who the kid was.  Later, in team drills, Dan DePalma started turning heads when he hauled in a couple of touchdowns.  Given that these guys were going against the third team defense for most of the time, I’m going to temper expectations—and ultimately, given the depth at WR, they are going to have to do something extraordinary to make the team—but one of them is sure to make waves during preseason.

3: Mike Willie is better than Luke Tasker or Dan DePalma

Mike Willie didn’t make the crowd oooh or ahhh like Tasker and DePalma did but he quietly caught every ball thrown his way.  He would box out DBs in the end zone or run a great route and give them no chance of catching up.  Being an ASU alumni, I might be a little bias towards him, but the hardcore fans in the crowd noticed his talent and sung his praises all day long.  Again, he might be a long shot to make the team, but if he can do something on special teams I think that he has a better chance than the other fringe guys, I could even see him beating out Goodman if Royal or Allen takes over return duties.

4: Meachem and Royal look more comfortable and played hard

Robert Meachem might have had the catch of the day during one-on-ones.  He made a diving catch over the defender and came up limping on the play.  During the crowd’s cheers I thought to myself that he might be done for the day—adding to the list of already injured receivers (Alexander and Brown).  Meachem surprised me and was back in the huddle after a short break, running hard and fighting to get open.  Royal still looked better than Meachem on the whole, catching pretty much every ball and using his speed to beat DBs.  It remains to be seen if these guys can contribute after a disappointing showing last year, but after yesterday I already see an improvement.  Royal especially may thrive in McCoy’s quick fire offense.

5: Coach D’Alessandris is the man

The guy’s been doing this for 36 years and he’s still out there hitting bags and sprinting to the next drill.  He’s extremely vocal and makes sure guys do things right.  He leads by example and I have no doubt that he’s going to whip this o-line into shape.

6: Le’Ron McClain and Chris Gronkowski hit hard

The running backs hit the sled right in front of the bleachers and man did it get the crowd pumped up, especially when one of the fullbacks stepped up.  Those guys hit that thing hard, knocking it back at least five yards every time—for some perspective, later in the day it took two Chargers assistants to push the sled two yards, and they were struggling.   This is going to be a great battle in preseason; can’t wait to see them blow some people up.

Overall, I was really happy to see the fire and the tempo out there.  Guys weren’t just going through the motions; they were playing hard and competing.  The whole team would hustle to the next drill and high five their teammates when they made a big play.  This is what I think we’ve been missing for the last few years, that intensity and competitiveness; it was great to see it back.  If anyone was at camp yesterday I’d love to hear your thoughts on the practice.  Let me know if you agree or disagree or have any other observations.


Go Bolts!

Dave O

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Tags: Joe D´Alessandris Leron Mcclain Mike Willie San Diego Chargers Training Camp

  • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

    How’s the O-line doing? How’s Fluker looking?

    • Dave O

      In the individual drills they looked aggressive and intense, which was kind of a universal feeling all over the field. Unfortunately they were on the other side of the field for most of the day so it was hard to keep an eye on them. When it came to team drills, they looked phenomenal in run blocking and struggled a little with pass protection, but that’s kinda how we knew they’d be.

  • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

    Well, so far so good. That’s two positive reports. Wasn’t Pops there, too? Any notes to add?

    • 1961 Fan

      Yes I was there Saturday; I fear the other teams are also improving their level of play. The Broncos are penciled in as AFC West champs but injuries (center) may set them back. We all know Manning’s skills but like other QB’s he needs time to read the developing defensive schemes. I see a new intensity which was lacking with Norval. 8-8 would be an improvement and something to build on. Come on you Bolts, prove me wrong. Pops


    Danario Alexander and Vincent Brown are the best WR’s on the roster.
    Having them out would explain why the Defense was dominating.

    • Gunnar Martin

      Yeah, pretty much. Although, it should be expected that at any level of football that the defense at least starts out better than the offense just because of the mindsets. Defense relies much more on instincts and simpler packages, while the other side of the ball has to focus much more on chemistry with teammates and getting to know the system. So this is normal. It’s great to know that the defense is doing so well, though.

    • David O

      That is true. Alexander and Brown make a huge difference. Hopefully they get back out there soon.

      • CALiFORNiAkiD

        Exactly. They make a huge difference.

        DX was back out there today. But Brown wasn’t.

  • Travis

    7th observation: Super Melvin was working on the side field doing sprints while dragging a weighted sled.

    • Dave O

      It really is amazing. Walking without a limp and everything. We might have a Suggs-like comeback on our hands. Have to be careful not to rush him though.

  • Gunnar Martin

    Yeah, way to go Mike Willie!! Hope he makes the practice squad. He can be a very good player, just needs the opportunity.

    • Adam

      Yep! I’ve always loved him. But even more than him…I hope Ladarius Green makes the active roster. He has so much raw talent if he could just get a little weight on his frame for blocking, he’d be the whole package. I’m SO excited for that dude

      • Dave O

        Thought the same thing. Seeing Green next to Gates you see how much he needs to beef up. He has the skills to be a great pass-catching tight end but really needs to put on the muscle if he’s going to help in the run game

      • Gunnar Martin

        Yeah him too. But I just can’t see any way he doesn’t make the roster. Who is gonna beat him out? Dallas Walker? Ben Cotton? He’s just the best next man up. It will be much more difficult for Willie to make it because of all the competition in front of him. Meachem would have to be traded somehow, someone else would have to go down with an injury (please no!!), etcetera, etcetera.

  • Daryl Peek

    The one thing that I would advise all BOLT fans to do is get over the Norvous residue mentality. The fact that many are skeptical over the missing big play tells me that hangover still exists. McCoy is trying to fix Rivers. Up tempo and quick short throws are the new way. As many have stated on this board, offense is usually behind the D at this early stage. I like what LT said about the team regarding the defense being the dominant personality of these Chargers.

    Defense wins championships. GO BOLTS

    • John Alton

      Thats right, the days of big play Norv are gone. I wonder how badly people are going to freak out when the new offense hits the regular season?

  • arnie

    I’m going to agree with you David. That is pretty much what i keep seeing. I love that DePalma and Tasker have stepped it up. I was worried about them on day 3 three. they just seemed pedestrian. the greatest news is the Defense, tightening up.

    • cargador

      No brandon taylor yet?

      • arnie

        I’ll find out Thursday morning.

  • JoseSD

    I don’t like the Bryan Walters comparisons I remember they kept him over Laurent Robinson fearing another Wes Welker mistake and Walters was cut a couple Weeks into the season and Robinson had 1000 yards for the Cowboys. There’s always a camp star that makes the team or almost makes the team then fades away into obscurity there was Darryl Gamble, WR Charly Martin a couple years ago there’s too much talent at WR to think Tasker or DePalma will be more than practice squad players

    • Dave O

      I agree, we have too much talent at WR to even consider them. I just think that these are the guys people will latch on to as the “Next Wes Welker” during preseason. Willie would be a much better addition and I think he makes the practice squad over either Tasker or DePalma. He’s going to be better in the long run. The problem (good problem) is that you have Alexander, Brown, Floyd, Allen, Royal and Meachem ahead of all of these guys. It’s fair to say that those are probably the ones who make the team, anyone else will be fighting for practice squad.

  • Pels04

    Another thing, to add to your first point, is that he defense has familiarity with the scheme and the way Pagano runs everything. Im sure it will be a little lop sided until the offense is done learning the system and everything becomes second nature. Good read!

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  • OP Bolt

    I would be willing to bet that when we look back at the 2013 statistics, we will find that the Chargers were MORE successful with the deep ball than we have been in the recent past (% of completions, TDs, …) – even though we throw fewer deep routes. I think that an improved running game and death of a thousand cuts in the quick hitting short and intermediate passing (assuming we can do it successfully), will preclude defenders from sitting on deep routes.

    • Gunnar Martin


  • clay

    I was there Sunday. Ryan Mathews was killing the sled too

  • 1961 Fan

    It is obvious Fluker is struggling and may not live up to the hype of being a first round choice. Did you watch his reps

  • Ben

    7 on 7 drills mean that there is no D line. There are 7 guys versus 7 guys. It’s very pass oriented. I’m wondering how the D line created “great pressure” if they weren’t on the field…….