Some were expected. Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, left tackle Marcus McNeill and wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd are staying away from a three-day minicamp, unhappy about their contract status. The NFL's unsettled labor situation cost them the chance to become unrestricted free agents and make much more money than they've been offered by the Chargers as restricted free agents.
Two absences were unexpected.
Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates was in North Carolina being examined by a foot specialist for an "issue" that coach Norv Turner didn't fully explain.
Also missing was safety Kevin Ellison, who was told by Turner to stay away from minicamp after his arrest on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance.
It was a curious move, considering that other players have shown up at the next practice when they've had run-ins with the law in the past.
Police in Redondo Beach said Ellison was arrested Monday afternoon after he was stopped for speeding in a school zone near his former high school. Sgt. Peter Grimm said a search of Ellison's vehicle turned up 100 Vicodin pills. He was booked and released on $10,000 bail.
"This thing happened, obviously, a couple of days ago, and really, I haven't had time to sort it out, so I asked Kevin to stay away," Turner said. "We have a week off next week in terms of our offseason program, and we can find out a little bit more about the situation. ... I didn't personally want the distraction this weekend. I didn't want to spend a lot of time talking about it, so I'm not going to."
Ellison, who played at USC, started nine games at strong safety as a rookie in 2009.
"It's not a good thing," Turner said about Ellison missing practice time.
The Chargers picked strong safety Darrell Stuckey of Kansas in the fourth round of last month's draft.
Gates was being examined by a foot specialist in North Carolina. Turner, loath to discuss injuries even in late May, declined to provide specifics.
"He's had soreness and it's nothing that's long-term," Turner said. "It's nothing that we have a major concern about, but it's something we want to take care of now instead of letting it turn into something that's lingering."
Ryan Mathews, the running back taken No. 12 overall in the draft, practiced for the first time with his new team. He'll replace LaDainian Tomlinson, who was released in late February and signed with the New York Jets.
Quarterback Philip Rivers gave Mathews a high-five at the start of practice.
"He noticed that I was nervous a little bit," Mathews said. "He said to just relax and have fun out there. This is fun. It's intense."
Oft-injured WR Craig Davis was shaken up toward the end of the morning practice when he went up for a pass and collided with S Eric Weddle. Davis sat out the remainder of the practice. ... K Nate Kaeding, rehabbing a groin injury sustained in practice prior to the Pro Bowl, kicked at full speed and said he felt fine. "It's all good," he said. Kaeding missed three field goals in San Diego's 17-14 playoff loss to the Jets.