From now on, it counts. Chargers training camp got underway at the team's Murphy Canyon training facility on Monday. Ryan Mathews was not on the field. He's expected to have a contract in place by the end of the week. In the meantime, his rookie class mates spent their first official day as professional football players trying to impress their new coaches. So far, so good.
"What you see from the young guys is, you see a lot of excitement," said head coach Norv Turner. Rookie defensive tackle Cam Thomas described his first day as, simply, fun.
"It was what I expected," said Thomas. "You could be a little rusty, you haven't played in a while. It's like oil. Put oil on the body, basically."
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These guys are all in their early 20's, so limbering up their bodies won't be a problem. Wrapping their minds around the playbook, however, is a different story. The best advice for remembering all the plays is not to overthink things.
"When you get to thinking too much, you kind of second-guess yourself," said rookie running back Shawnbrey McNeal. "So you kind of have to slow your breathing down, make yourself calm and go to a happy place."
It's not hard to find a happy place when you win, and the Chargers expect to win a lot this season. Turner has said this could be the best team he's had since he arrived in San Diego in 2007. With the departure of mainstays like LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamal Williams, and the looming holdouts of Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson, Turner knows he has to get the news guys up to speed as fast as he can.
"I'm not trying to get them on the field to play, I'm trying to get them on the field to win," he said.
The Chargers veterans report on Thursday. The first full-squad practice is scheduled for Friday morning.