- Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN DIEGO -- Receivers Vincent Brown and Seyi Ajirotutu are prime examples of learning by doing. Both players got their first taste of San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy's up-tempo, no-huddle offense last year.
Now in their second seasons under McCoy, Brown and Ajirotutu are playing fast and confident during the team's organized team activities, making plays early and often during team drills open to reporters the past few weeks.
Receiver Keenan Allen said that Brown, in his fourth season, is pushing the Cal product for minutes with the starters. Ajirotutu is showing his winning touchdown reception against Kansas City last year was no fluke, and he can consistently get open if given an opportunity for more snaps with the first-unit offense.
The improved play of Brown and Ajirotutu at the back end of San Diego's receiving group shows the Chargers have perhaps one of the most underrated receiving units in the league, particularly if Malcom Floyd can come back healthy from last year's season-ending neck injury.
"As a group it's great because we're all pushing one another," Eddie Royal said. "We're all kind of different in what we do. So we're all helping one another out, whether it's route running, blocking or getting off of the line of scrimmage.
"Each of us can do something really well. And we're all helping each other with that. So we've got a balanced group of guys."
Among the rookie receivers, undrafted rookie free agent Javontee Herndon has looked the part so far in OTAs. At 6-foot and 194 pounds, the University of Arkansas product has the size to play on the perimeter as a receiver. He also has shown soft hands, with the ability to run after the catch and return punts.
Seventh-round selection Tevin Reese has flashed his trademark speed, but has dropped a couple balls and struggled at times being physical enough to consistently get open as a slot receiver in the middle of the field.
Palepoi flashes, Carrethers biding his time: At 6-1 and 300 pounds, University of Utah undrafted rookie free agent Tenny Palepoi flashed at times playing with the reserve defensive line unit for the Chargers.
"He's done a good job," McCoy said. "He's done a great job of fighting."
Palepoi played alongside Carolina first-round draft selection from the 2012 draft, Star Lotulelei, in college at Utah. And he also has some family NFL pedigree: Palepoi's older brother Anton Palepoi was a second-round selection of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2004 draft, and played four years in the NFL.
Palepoi offers some versatility, with the ability to play both defensive tackle and defensive end in San Diego's 3-4 system.
Ryan Carrethers, a fifth-round selection by the Chargers in this year's draft, is working hard, but has yet to break through with the first unit in his quest to earn the starting nose tackle job. Sean Lissemore continues to run with the first group, with Kwame Geathers serving as his backup.
When asked about Carrether's development, McCoy seemed to indicate that Carrethers still is learning the playbook.
"He's done a nice job," McCoy said. "A lot of these guys are getting a lot of information thrown at them. The most important thing is you learn the system. And you've got to understand what you're supposed to do.
"We're going to make some mistakes. As coaches we'll make some bad calls in games also. But the most important thing is don't make the same mistake twice. Just keep working hard. I think he's got some good guys in front of him that are trying to help him up there."
Mathews healthy: Chargers running back Ryan Mathews looks fully recovered from an ankle injury that forced him out of the AFC divisional round playoff game against Denver. Mathews played with the injury for the final four games of the year, but consistently showed a good burst of speed while working with the starters earlier this week.
Mathews also donned a flashy pair of high-top cleats during practice.
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