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Chargers wrap mini camp; will open season on Monday Night Football

SAN DIEGO — The Chargers wrapped up another round of firsts under the new regime of head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco with the completion of voluntary mini camp Thursday.It was a mini camp that McCoy succinctly described as “a good start.”McCoy’s terse and direct style was something that newly acquired cornerback Derek Cox noticed about his coach.“Coach McCoy seems to have total command,” said Cox, who was brought into the organization through free agency. “(McCoy) seems to be very assertive, sure of himself and he’s right to the point, treating us like men, being professional about it,” Cox added.

During the past couple of weeks, McCoy was working to introduce the new system to his players — both returning veterans and the new players that Telesco has brought on before this year’s NFL draft.

Cornerback Derek Cox talks with the media after the finish of voluntary mini camp Thursday. Photo by Tony Cagala
Cornerback Derek Cox talks with the media after the finish of voluntary mini camp Thursday. Photo by Tony Cagala

Since the start of mini camp earlier this week, McCoy said that as the players started to become more comfortable with everything, the tempo of practice picked up each day.

“And that’s what you expect,” McCoy said. “That’s what you want. You want to see improvement every day. And we’re going to make some mistakes throughout practice, that’s going to happen, because it’s new. We’re just getting going here, getting back in football shape and it’s going to take some time.”

Danny Woodhead, another of Telesco’s signings this offseason, said that coming into a new system is something that needs focusing on every day.

Woodhead, who spent three seasons as a running back with the New England Patriots, said that learning the new playbook as a running back was what he tried to do over this mini camp, so that he knew what he was supposed to do, what other people are supposed to do, and do, “what I’m supposed to do well.”

As the team broke from camp, talk of the draft surfaced, to which McCoy said they had a great plan in place.

“It’s the first time as an organization, with the new people in here, we’ve all sat down and outlined our plan, what type of players we’re looking for,” McCoy said.

Their philosophy for the team’s future, McCoy said, is building through the draft and developing those players.

“The big thing is when you get done with the draft is, how did you improve your football team? And that’s what we’ve been trying to do every day, whether it’s through free agency, whatever it is, re-signing guys, making certain personnel decisions to say, ‘Hey, we’re trying to get better every day,’ and that’s another step in the process. It’s a good opportunity to be able to draft some young talented players and make them fit into your system however you think they fit best, and just to build depth for the football team…for the long haul.”

For all of the talk of bringing in new players and developing talent through the draft, McCoy still had plenty of praise for veteran quarterback Philip Rivers.

“He’s dying to be the very best, and you love it,” said McCoy.

“He’s asking questions that we’re going to be talking about down the road, which is great…obviously he’s the leader of this organization and he’s going to have a great season.”

Still early in the process, McCoy said that this mini camp served mostly as an evaluation to the mental side of the game for the players, especially as they adjust to the new system and start using the new terminology.

Coming into the Chargers organization from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cox said the message he’s heard from his coaches, including defensive coordinator John Pagano is that they want to be the best defense in the NFL.

“That’s the mindset,” Cox said. “That’s what we’ve set out in front of ourselves. It’s attainable. We look at every day out here on the field as an opportunity to move forward and push towards that. So, from them I understand that the expectation is extremely high and they want the best out of us and all they’re going to do is push us towards that to make sure that we reach it.”

Free agent signee and running back Danny Woodhead said he's focusing on learning the new playbook. Photo by Tony Cagala
Free agent signee and running back Danny Woodhead said he's focusing on learning the new playbook. Photo by Tony Cagala

With mini camp over, Woodhead said he was hopeful that every single time the team is together, they’re going to be a little more crisp, “because that means we’re getting better as a team,” he said, adding that that is where their focus is — getting better as a team every day, and making this a team, and a team that can compete.

The NFL released the full schedule for the upcoming season Thursday night, which will have the Chargers opening their season on Monday Night Football Sept. 8 at home against the Houston Texans.


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