- Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN DIEGO -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of San Diego Chargers training camp:
Ball magnet Eric Weddle showed why he’s one of the best safeties in the game, twice corralling interceptions during team drills and running them back for scores. The first pick came on an out route thrown by Philip Rivers intended for Keenan Allen in the red zone that Weddle stepped in front of for a turnover. And the second occurred later in practice on an errant throw down the middle of the field. Even though the team drills aren’t full-go, Weddle talked about why he ran both interceptions back to the end zone. “I’ve been in the end zone a few times in my career, so I like to feel that I can get in there if I get a pick,” Weddle said. “It’s just always if you get a pick let’s go run it in. They’ll sub you out. Just get that feeling of the guys blocking for you, and go score. Don’t settle for running out of bounds. Don’t settle for a 20-yard gain. Let’s try and go get points on the board.”
Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes were both a force up the middle rushing the passer during defensive drills, much like the duo performed last season. But a couple of undrafted rookie free agents also flashed during inside pass-rush drills -- Tenny Palepoi and Jeremiah Sirles. Both players showed the ability to push the pocket from the interior against second-and-third unit offensive linemen. Defensive linemen like Sean Lissemore, Lawrence Guy, Kwame Geathers, Damik Scafe and Ryan Carrethers rightly remain ahead of Sirles and Palepoi on the depth chart. But the play of that young duo shows the overall improvement of San Diego’s defensive line so far through the first four days of camp. Along with those interior pass-rushers, second-round selection Jeremiah Attaochu is being given a lesson in how to get to the pass-rusher off the edge of the defense by going against two of the more mammoth tackles in the NFL in King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker. And although he’s struggled at times against the bigger offensive linemen, Attochu’s motor keeps churning. “That’s as big as it gets,” Attaochu said. “So I’m just working my technique against that, and trying to get around those guys. They’re like mountains.”
Offensive lineman Jeromey Clary (shoulder, hip) remains on the active, physically unable to perform (PUP) list. His replacements, Johnnie Troutman and Chris Watt had to leave the field at the end of practice on Saturday due to dehydration but returned to practice on Sunday. Inside linebacker Andrew Gachkar (unknown) and center Nick Hardwick (rest) also returned to the field after missing practice. Receiver Vincent Brown (calf) remains out. Outside linebackers Jarrett Johnson and Dwight Freeney, along with tight end Antonio Gates took rest days. “They kind of did some things on the side, just the three of them, with strength and conditioning just to rest them,” San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy said about the veteran trio. “They’ve played plenty of football in their lives. So we’ll just keep them fresh.”
The Chargers installed red zone offense and defense for the majority of the team drills during Sunday’s practice, a point of emphasis after the team’s struggles on both sides of the ball last season. “Like every practice, there was plenty of give and take,” McCoy said. “The defense created some turnovers there. There were some big plays by the offense. We did a nice job at times of stopping the run, and then the last period the offense did a nice job of running the football.”
“He actually asked me as soon as we picked him on the first day, ‘Can I go back on punt returns?’ So we’ll see what happens down the road.” -- Chargers head coach Mike McCoy on first round selection Jason Verrett returning punts for the first time during training camp on Saturday.
The Chargers practice at 8:50 a.m. ET on Monday and will take Tuesday off. Monday’s practice is closed to the public.
6dEric D. Williams
8dEric D. Williams