Cason showing he's up to challenge

SAN DIEGO -- There doesn’t appear to be much worry in San Diego about the loss of Antonio Cromartie.

It’s early, but his replacement, Antoine Cason, is tearing it up. The third-year cornerback has been one of the standouts of training camp so far.

Cason, San Diego’s first-round draft pick in 2008, is stepping into the starting lineup to take over for the traded Cromartie. He was sent to the New York Jets on the first day of the trading period.

The Chargers grew tired of Cromartie on and off the field. Cromartie had a total of five interceptions the past two seasons after having 10 interceptions in 2007. He made many mental mistakes and he was a major liability against the run.

Cason has impressed the coaching staff with his intelligent, steady play. He has also proved to be quite the ball hawk.

Cason said the key to his early success is he is relaxed and he knows it’s his time to shine.

“This is it, this is my chance,” Cason said. "I'm seizing it. ... It was my goal to start by my third year. It’s here. I’m doing it and it feels great. I really feel like I belong out there.”

Cason said he was focused on his task from the moment Cromartie was traded.

“I knew what was ahead of me and I knew what it took to make it work,” Cason said. “It’s good to finally be at camp and put it to work.”

Cason struggled some in the middle of last season and lost playing time. He regrouped and finished strong. He said that experience helped him prepare for his greatest task: Being an NFL starting cornerback.

‘I wouldn’t trade my NFL path,” Cason said. “I’ve had adversity and that’s what it takes to get better. It’s made me a better player and a better person. It made me ready for this year.”