San Diego Chargers: Andy Reid

SAN DIEGO – Maybe San Diego Chargers coach Mike McCoy should take note of how his opponent this week handled practice time during training camp.

The Chargers have struggled with poor tackling all season. McCoy said his team missed 12 tackles in the Chargers’ loss to Miami on Sunday, allowing 92 yards after contact. He also lamented his defense's poor execution of the fundamentals, including repeatedly jumping offside.

San Diego’s opponent this week, the Kansas City Chiefs, boasts one of the top-rated defenses in the NFL, and sits tied atop the AFC West standings with Denver at 9-1.

[+] EnlargeJulius Thomas
John Leyba/The Denver PostThe Chargers have struggled with poor tackling. Their opponent on Sunday, the Chiefs, has not had that problem.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid set the stage for how his team is playing this season by doing something unusual during training camp – live tackling for 10 to 15 minutes during team drills. Some NFL teams have live-tackling drills during the goal-line period, but few teams are willing to risk injuries with live tackling during the meat of practice time.

"We tackled to the ground in camp," Reid said. "We’ve always done that. And that’s kind of how I was raised in the thing, and that’s how we do it."

Reid offered sound reasoning behind his decision.

“In its simplest form, this game is about blocking and tackling,” Reid said. “I don’t think that part has changed, so it allowed us to work on it and try to get better at it.”

Longtime Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said Reid’s approach during training camp was a wake-up call for a team that suffered through a disappointing 2-14 campaign last season.

“It was very physical,” Johnson said. “I’ve never been to a training camp where certain periods were live. Since I’ve been here for nine years, we’ve had a few times where you go goal-line and you go live. But we were going live every other day, so it gets you in the best position to make plays when the real game comes.”

Full tackling drills during the regular season are rare. Due to the collective bargaining agreement, the Chargers can hold only a limited amount of padded practices during the regular season. They also have suffered significant injuries to key players on defense.

On Wednesday, San Diego practiced in helmets, jerseys and shorts.

“We’ve had a tackling circuit on Wednesday every day this year,” McCoy said. “So there’s certain things you work on every day. And obviously, from last week’s game we’ve got to clean some things up.”

Chargers cornerback Shareece Wright said better tackling is about having the right mindset and all 11 players getting to the ball.

“It’s being sure every time, and not assuming – not expecting a guy to go down because one guy is tackling him,” Wright said. “It’s just a mindset of everybody getting to the ball and just being furious out there to get the ball carrier down.”

Injury update: Tackle King Dunlap (neck), outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (hand), cornerback Johnny Patrick (concussion) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) did not practice on Wednesday. Johnson had a soft cast on his left hand.

Receiver Vincent Brown (shoulder) was a limited participant. Safety Jahleel Addae (ankle), receiver Keenan Allen (knee), defensive end Lawrence Guy (toe), center Nick Hardwick (neck), running back Ryan Mathews (hamstring) and linebacker Manti Te’o (elbow) were full participants.
SAN DIEGO -- Kansas City coach Andy Reid said that he knew Mike McCoy was coaching material back in Green Bay in 1995, when he served as a backup quarterback on the Packers’ practice squad.

Reid worked as Green Bay’s offensive line coach at the time, and compared McCoy to Doug Pederson, another Green Bay quarterback who now works as the offensive coordinator for Kansas City.

“They just got it,” Reid said. “They were great with people. They understood football, and not just offensive football. They understood the game. And I saw that in Mike. You could see it when he was just a pup. When you’re in a meeting you kind of go, ‘Man, that’d guy be a great coach.’”

With the Chargers 4-6 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak, McCoy’s received some criticism for his game-management skills, which has included some mismanagement of late-game situations and conservative decision making. But Reid believes the Chargers hired the right guy.

“Let me tell you something -- you guys have a phenomenal head coach,” Reid said. “I’m just telling you. He’s top notch. .. And that’s hard for a BYU guy to say about a Utah guy.”

Reid played offensive line and coached at Brigham Young University, while McCoy played quarterback at the University of Utah.

Reid also addressed speculation he had interest in the head coaching vacancy in San Diego last offseason. Those rumors never came to fruition because Reid took his first visit to Kansas City and never left.

Reid grew up a couple hours north of San Diego in Los Angeles, and still has a home in the area.

“First of all, I think the Spanos family is phenomenal and the organization is phenomenal,” he said. “It never went there like that. I met with [Chiefs CEO] Clark Hunt, and that’s where it kind of started and ended. I didn’t really go anywhere else or do anything.”
The San Diego Chargers are interested in adding a veteran presence to their young crew of cornerbacks. The Miami Herald is reporting that the Chargers on Thursday visited with Richard Marshall, who was cut this week by the Miami Dolphins and is the best cornerback currently on the market.

The Chargers are thin at the position. If signed, Marshall would likely be the nickel cornerback and would also compete with Shareece Wright for a starting spot. Marshall could have the edge because he has experience that Wright does not have. The Chargers lost their two starting cornerbacks, Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer, in free agency. They are fine at one spot with free-agent pickup Derek Cox.

Marshall, known as a strong locker-room presence, has ties to the Chargers’ staff. He was in Carolina with coach Mike McCoy and in Arizona with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

In other AFC West notes:

Kansas City coach Andy Reid was on ESPN’s “NFL Insiders” show Thursday and said that running back Jamaal Charles is ready to go after suffering a minor foot strain on Aug. 12. Reid would not commit to him playing Saturday at Pittsburgh. But the bottom line is this: Charles will be ready for Week 1.

Also, Reid said receiver A.J. Jenkins – acquired in a trade for Jon Baldwin with San Francisco on Monday – has quickly adjusted well.