Chargers Open Training Camp 2015

Healthy crowd out to see what might be the team's final camp in San Diego

The crowd at Chargers Park for the opening of Training Camp 2015 was one of the largest in recent memory. It might be the last first practice this team ever has in San Diego. So while the team’s caustic stadium situation throws a bit of a dark cloud over an otherwise lovely day, the opinion of the people who were in Murphy Canyon was simple … we don’t know what the future holds, so enjoy the heck out of the team while it’s here.

“We come here every year and this is probably the largest crowd (we’ve seen)” said long-time Chargers fan Oscar Davila. “Hopefully it helps make the decision to have the San Diego Chargers stay in San Diego.”

The biggest cheers of the day were for three players on offense. One was quarterback Philip Rivers, who was the subject of immense off-season trade speculation and enters camp with only one year left on his contract. Two was tight end Antonio Gates, who will miss the first four games of the season after testing positive for a banned substance. Three was running back Melvin Gordon, the first round draft pick from Wisconsin who is expected to instantaneously improve what was one of the worst running games in the NFL in 2014.

Safety Eric Weddle was also received warmly by the home crowd. After an off-season where he was vocal about his displeasure with the team and his contract (which also expires at the end of the 2015 season) the All-Pro said he’s not going to let that affect his play, or his attitude this season.

“I’ve moved forward and moved on,” said Weddle. “It’s all about playing my best and leading the team. The emotional side is pretty much done with. When I’m out on the field it’s at ease for me. I’m ready to have the best year of my career.”

Gates discussed his 4-game drug suspension with a mix of honesty and humor. Antonio said he’s been tested, “100,000 times and that’s the only one that’s tested positive.” As he did in his statement when the suspension was announced Gates took responsibility for not being thorough in checking what he put in to his body.

“I was thinking April was over with so I was thinking it was more of an April Fool’s joke,” said Gates. “I’ve actually used it as a mechanism to teach my kids and other players around that nobody’s perfect and you can make mistakes.”

Rivers acknowledged his agent and the Chargers front office have had conversations about a longer-term deal but made his intentions for the immediate future clear once again, re-iterating he is, like the fans who watched him on Thursday, all-in for 2015 with the San Diego Chargers regardless of what the future may hold.

“You know where we’re playing this year, and that’s in our stadium,” said Rivers. “Honestly I’m totally thinking about this football season.”

After a pair of 9-7 seasons head coach Mike McCoy is expecting an improvement. Of course, a team that goes 19-0 with a 55-0 shutout win in the Super Bowl is expecting an improvement. That’s the nature of the beast in professional football. But for now, after one day of guys running around in shorts, things looked promising.

How long will that last? We’ll know soon.

“In a few days here we’ll be in full pads,” said McCoy, “and that’s really when you start evaluating your football team.”

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