One of the big effects of the Lockout that blew out last year's off-season is how this year's off-season is a lot different from 2010's off-season. Isn't it?
"I don't know how much different it is," said quarterback Philip Rivers.
There's still no contact, but now the length of the actual workouts also restricted. 3 1/2 hours on the field, no more. But they can be at the facility for 10 hours. Which leaves a lot more time for valuable meetings and film study.
"With the way it's structured," said Rivers, "I think it works out good."
Head coach Norv Turner agrees.
"I kinda like it," said Turner, "particularly for a team like us with so many new players that we're going to be counting on. We've been able to teach them a little bit at a time, in pieces at a time, and work to put the whole thing together."
Ah, yes, all the new players. The Chargers have turned their roster over with a rototiller. So, mini-camp and organized team activities turned into a bit of a meet and greet. The first impression is this group should gel both on the field and in the locker room.
"We got a lot of guys with a lot of athleticism," said fourth year linebacker Larry English. "More so than that, guys that love to play the game."
"The sky's the limit of what we can do," said Rivers. "There's probably a lot of teams that are saying that right now. Now it's a matter of going out and getting it done."
Let's use the passing game as an example of the extreme turnover, which the Chargers hope leads to fewer turnovers. There are 13 wideouts on the roster. Two caught passes in a game last year, Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown. Of their six tight ends, three caught a ball in a game. Rivers connected with just three of their seven running backs. Fancy math tells us 140 of Rivers' completions from last year (38%) are gone. The bulk of those balls will now be aimed at Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, and Le'Ron McClain. Rivers seems just fine with that.
"They've won where they've been," said Rivers. "They've had big years where they've been. They're veterans, they know how to operate. We have a chance to be as dynamic as we've been on offense."
They've set the bar awfully high for themselves. The Chargers have scored at least 400 points in 8 straight seasons, an N-F-L record. As always, the Devil is in the details.
"It's the little things that'll kill you," said Royal, "and those will bring the big plays when you iron out the details. That's what we've really been working on."
Meachem won a Super Bowl ring with Drew Brees. Over the last 3 years, the model of consistency has caught 45, 44, and 40 passes. He'll fit right in.
It's Royal who might need a refresher course. With Tim Tebow last year, Royal only caught 19 passes. But in his rookie year with Jay Cutler Royal grabbed 91 balls. Once he gets on the same page as Rivers, look the heck out.
"You've got small windows, and it has a lot to do with timing," said Royal. "It's great to have a guy who's accurate and on-time."
"It's always nice when you have some timing things come up," said Rivers, "or you have some things come up when you have to throw it early, having to hope you're right with what he's about to do. When he's thinking what I'm thinking, and I throw it where I hope he's going, and he does go there, that's what this time of year is all about."
They have some details ironed out. Now they just have to hope the wrinkles don't come back before the end of July.