On the last day of their three-day minicamp, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn gave all 10-plus-year veterans a day off. That meant 15-year veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, 11-year nose tackle Brandon Mebane, and, just for good measure, nine-year vet left tackle Russell Okung did not have to show up.
Lynn’s plan was to give the younger guys a chance to get more reps.
“They handled it like I thought they would,” Lynn said. “A little confusion at first. The competition wasn’t as good because too many guys are faking their way through practice, but the more I put guys in that situation the better they will get.”
It is no secret it is a toss-up as to who the backup quarterback will be. The team signed quarterback Geno Smith this offseason. Last season they traded a seventh-round pick for Cardale Jones and signed undrafted free agent Nic Shimonek from Texas Tech after this year’s draft.
In Rivers’ absence Thursday, Smith and Jones both took snaps during the team’s 1portion1 potion of practice.
“A little sluggish to be honest with you,” Lynn said about the quarterbacks performance today. “I have seen both of those guys make outstanding throws and today you could tell their heads were spinning a bit.”
The Chargers coaching staff have their work cut out for them when it comes to choosing a backup quarterback, or the team could keep all three the way they did last season with then back-up Kellen Clemens.
“I feel good about the quarterback competition because I like the guys we brought in and I am looking forward to seeing it all play out,” Lynn said.
After practice, Lynn gave his team the “don’t do anything dumb” speech now that they have six weeks off before the real work begins. Lynn said everything changes when the players put on their pads on July 28, the first day of training camp.
Chargers Kyzir White turning heads
Coaches typically say they don’t get excited about OTAs or minicamp because the players are just in shorts and not pads, but fourth-round pick Kyzir White has been impressing his coaches.
“He has stood out this spring in shorts,” Lynn said. “We have thrown a lot on his plate. He played safety in college but he will play linebacker for us. I like him a lot.”
At West Virginia, White did play safety, but his frame is that of a linebacker — listed at 6 foot 2 inches and weighed over 220 pounds. White has been all over the field playing with the ones, the twos, and the threes.
“He’s got a lot on him, but when you see him on the field if he makes a mistake it is still at 100 miles per hour and that is something to be said,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley about the rookie.
White was known as a hard hitter in college, but what impressed GM Tom Telesco was his vision. There have been times during minicamp practices when he knows where the ball is going and he is right there to make the potential tackle.
All of the coaches, including offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, have said they can’t wait to see number 44 on the field flying around making plays.
Last year, the Chargers had a weakness at linebacker after Denzel Perryman went down with an injury, so the team’s brass wants to make sure that the next man up can make the same impact as the starter.