SAN DIEGO – Finding players that can help the team win, not just play – that’s what the Chargers and head coach Norv Turner said they were looking for during Friday’s first rookie orientation and practice.
Armed with a roster of names, Turner patrolled the practice fields at Chargers Park looking at the young players, seeing which of them could come in and help the team win. “Everyone talks about young guys playing. I don’t want guys to come in here and just play; I want them to be able to help us win,” said Turner.
Turner said that for the past few years, the Chargers have played more players than any other team in the National Football League because of injuries.
Rookie orientation is an opportunity for the newest draft picks and invitees to show how quickly they’re able to learn and adjust to the system, and to try and get their names noticed by the coaches for the right reasons.
“We’re getting to know them and in the process we’re going to be evaluating their athleticism,” Turner said. “But it’s a lot easier to evaluate guys after they know what to do,” he added. Turner said that he’s anticipating not only the top draft picks to play all season long, but also those invitee players who make the team.
First and second round draft picks outside linebacker Melvin Ingram and defensive end Kendall Reyes, respectively, both were happy to be back on a football field.
Reyes said that the pace of practice was pretty good, but added that the only thing that gets you in football shape is football.
Coming from the University of Connecticut, Reyes said he feels like he’s starting over in the game, saying that he’s looking to earn his keep and do what he can to help the team win.
Ingram, who was happy to have the off-the-field concerns gone after signing his contract, now has the opportunity to put all of his focus and efforts on understanding all of the information that the coaches give him – something he considers to be his strong suit.
With some of the thoughts still on Junior Seau and the possibilities of long-term injuries and concussions resulting from the physicality of the game, it was asked if Ingram and Reyes had considered any of that.
“No,” Ingram said. “If something’s going to happen to you, it’s going to happen to you.”
Reyes agreed. “If you play hard and play…with technique the chances for injury goes down a lot.” You can’t play fearful, he explained.
Some notable invitees trying out for the team are safety Brandon Davis from San Diego State University and tight end Patrick Doyle from the University of San Diego.