SAN DIEGO — The Chargers began their search for the best 53 players Monday with the opening of OTAs.
Head Coach Mike McCoy (with note card in one hand, a whistle in the other) watched for the first time as his entire team took part in all three phases of the game.
It was great, McCoy said, to get everyone together and to start teaching them the way they want to practice from OTAs to mini-camp to training camp.
He kept his eye on the rookies, including first-round draft pick D.J. Fluker and second-round draft pick Manti Te’o, both of whom played with first squad.
He said Te’o did a nice job on the field. “We have big expectations for him coming in here and stepping in and playing for us. He’s going to get thrown in early, he’s in there with the ones right now and we’re going to see how much he can pick up.”
Te’o wasn’t made available to the media.
“All the young guys, they’re thinking so much right now instead of just going out and playing and reacting,” McCoy said, making reference to a missed play by Fluker who allowed second-year outside linebacker Melvin Ingram to get passed him.
Philip Rivers was just glad he didn’t get touched by onrushing defenders out there.
Regarding Te’o, Rivers said he didn’t pay much attention to how he did.
“It didn’t seem like he was lost or anything. He got matched up on (Antonio) Gates a few times — that was a quick welcome day one. I don’t how well he did, but he certainly didn’t stand out (mistake-wise), which is a good thing,” Rivers said.
Donald Butler said he saw Te’o picking up the system. “(Te’o) did a great job out there today in terms of communication, knowing where to be and line up; and he’s going to help us,” Butler said.
Butler described Te’o a “high-energy guy who likes learning, asking a lot of questions, always trying to get better. And that’s all that we can ask for.”
As for the veteran Rivers, McCoy said he was doing a phenomenal job of learning what they’re doing and buying into the change.
“This is completely different for him. What he’s doing out there is rare. He’s picked it up so fast,” he said.
Rivers said their first day was off to a “good start,” adding that he has a way to go learning the verbiage of the new system. “I can handle what we’ve done,” he said. “I feel fine running it, but I’m glad we’re not playing this week.”
A majority of the passes made during the first day of OTAs were intermediate passes rather than long throws down field, something that Rivers noted.
Wearing a glove on his left hand, Rivers also said that most of the footballs he’s thrown this year so far have been made while wearing gloves, though he’s not yet fully committed to playing with them or not.
On whether Rivers thought it was unfair or not that some are saying this is a make-or-break year for him: “Unfair? I don’t really get caught up into worrying about what people think; I really don’t. I think of it that way every year because you’ve got to win and we haven’t won enough the last few and ultimately that gets pointed at the quarterback and like I said, I deserve my share of it. But it’s a new go at it; a new year….
“Good luck predicting what’s going to happen. We’ve got a chance to go win a game, and we’ve got 16 of them and see where we stand.”