SAN DIEGO — The Chargers opened their training camp to the public last Saturday with fans being able to glimpse the latest installment of their team.
But those who still haven’t forgotten the disappointment of last season are placing great expectations on this season, explicitly calling for no less than a Super Bowl appearance.
“Like every other year, a Super Bowl,” said Chargers fan Antonio Salinas when asked what he expected from the team. A fan since ’95, Salinas remains upset over the firing of former head coach Marty Schottenheimer in 1997.
“I am upset about it, I really am, because I’m a Schottenheimer fan,” he said. “And you can’t tell me his last year that he wouldn’t have knocked down the doors and taken us to the Super Bowl on his last year of his contract. But a decision was made (to keep head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith); gotta live with it; just gotta go with it, pray for the best and hope the team goes for it.”
Salinas also has expectations for Turner this season.
“I expect him to light the fire underneath their butts and give them the inspiration they need and just drive them to the Super Bowl,” he said.
Fans’ frustrations boiled over last season, calling for the firing of both Turner and Smith, given the way the season ended, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the second year in-a-row.
“I just think, if you’re doing this, you always have great expectations,” said Turner. “And then you have to handle what comes your way, in terms of the good things that happen, and every team in this league is going to have adversity.”
Adversity was a key theme of last season. The team’s undoing stemmed from injuries and having to piecemeal players together to put on the field. Turner said he feels better prepared to handle adversity this year than over the last couple of years.
“We have more good players, we have more depth; we have more experienced players and obviously, we have guys like Ryan Matthews, who’s two years further ahead than he was two years ago when he was getting ready to start.
“We’re going to be a very good football team,” he added. “I don’t think there’s any doubt in our players’ minds; I don’t think there’s any doubt in our staffs’ minds. The fact that there might be a doubt outside of our building…we’ll use that in a positive way.”
Antonio Garay, the Chargers 6-year veteran defensive tackle had this to say: “My expectations — take it on one day at a time and win every day as it comes.
“I think without a question, I think this team goes in expecting to win,” he said. “I think that, obviously, the last two years things have not gone the way we wanted to, but I think the team we have out here on the field has a lot of potential, (and) could do a lot of great things this year.”
Cornerback Eric Weddle said he’s both optimistic about the season and expects them to be the best team in their division and make a run at the playoffs.
“You’re optimistic because it’s a new year,” he said. “What is this Chargers team going to be about? We don’t know…but hopefully, we’ll be a great team and have a lot of wins.
“You’re expecting to be good because if you’re not expecting to be a great team, then what are you really playing for?” he said.
The Chargers will host eight more practices open to the public at Chargers Park and will hold FanFest 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium Aug. 4. The final team practice open to the public is Aug. 12.
The first preseason home game is Aug. 9 against the Green Bay Packers.