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Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Turner talks about rookie RBs

By Bill Williamson

San Diego coach Norv Turner spoke at the NFL owners meeting Tuesday.

Much of his session centered on the Chargers’ draft needs at running back. San Diego is sure to use a high pick on a running back and Turner seems pleased with the available group. Here is some of what Turner covered:

Turner
Turner
His impression of Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and the other top backs:

“I’ve had limited exposure, but you see him enough to know that Spiller is just dynamite. He does it all, the return game, the explosiveness, the perimeter running. He’s an exciting player. He’s probably a little bit like [Jahvid] Best at Cal, similar style. Like Joe McKnight at SC. Those three guys are as explosive as you can be around. They’re big plays just waiting to happen with those guys.”

On Stanford’s Toby Gerhart:

“Gerhart is a lot more explosive player than people realize because he’s very physical. I just named seven guys that are pretty good players.”

On whether he would want to draft a physical, big back because the team has change-of-pace back Darren Sproles:

“I think people look at it and say, 'Hey, with Sproles they can offset that.' But we just want the best back. We’re going to adjust to what he does. It’s a physical game. The guys I named who are those elusive type guys, they’re still -- coaching Chris Johnson in the Pro Bowl, he’s so fast that you don’t realize how physical a player he can be.”

On if Gerhart and Jacob Hester are similar players:

“I think Gerhart is more of a pure runner. Jacob has been, even with us, he’s kind of been that role guy that ran some, caught some, blocked some, done a lot of things. Jacob’s just been an outstanding player for us. We’ve put him at fullback with Tolbert, and then he’s been just a great special teams player. He and Tolbert, they’re two of our leading tacklers on all our special teams, and they’re good. Jacob blocked a punt for a touchdown, stripped a ball from the punt returner and ran it in for a touchdown. He makes big plays. He’s just a [solid] player.”

On what he expects from linebacker Shawne Merriman:

“Everyone talks about it takes another year to come back from a surgery. The biggest thing -- and I had this conversation about two weeks ago with Philip Rivers -- he says that it’s not so much that the knee takes a year. But while you’re rehabbing your knee, it doesn’t allow you to do all the other things that you need to do to get ready for the season.

"So Shawne went through the year and missed time with the groin, missed time with the foot. The knee wasn’t the issue. So I think having a great offseason so he doesn’t have those nagging injuries, and then the knee being a year better… Shawne had a really good year last year. He just didn’t have those game-changing-type plays that we’ve all seen him have. But I think those will come. He’s such a competitor, such a physical player, that when he gets that step back he’ll return as an outstanding pass-rusher."

On if Merriman lost explosion:

“I think you could see that coming back all the way through the year. The problem was when he had the foot injury, he had the plantar fascia and the problem with the foot, it was a six-week injury and he wasn’t able to practice a lot. You could see him where he was favoring it a little bit. I think those things were more of a factor than him losing the explosion.”

On what his team can learn from the playoff loss to the Jets:

“I think that game has to be a great learning situation for our guys when we get back into that situation. There are a lot of different things you look at and try to analyze: Were we trying too hard? Were we too revved up? All the different things once it started going the other way, guys were trying to do things they hadn’t done throughout the season. The thing we’ve got to try to build from is we won 11 straight games, and we won them every possible way you could -- a goal-line stand, downing a punt inside the 5, getting a big kick return to set our offensive up for a short drive, driving the ball four times in the last two minutes for touchdowns, those things that our guys have to take a lot of pride from. All of us, when we get back in that situation, we’ve just got to handle it better.”