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Author Topic: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS NEWS  (Read 1757 times)
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« Reply #30 on: May 14, 2013, 02:52:35 PM »


Yes, those high-flying San Diego Chargers of the early 1980s were known as Air Coryell.

Yet one of the most memorable and recognizable figures on those teams was a hard-charging running back named Chuck Muncie. With a menacing bar down the center of his face mask and thick, black-frame glasses, the big, strong Muncie was a load for defenses around the league to handle.

Sadly, Muncie died Monday at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. His death was confirmed later by the New Orleans Saints.

The California product was the No. 3 overall draft pick by the Saints in 1976. He was traded to the Chargers in 1980. He gave them a strong running presence, and quickly became a major part of an entertaining offense.

Muncie, though, had his demons. He was suspended in 1984 for drug use and his career was essentially over, although he attempted a brief comeback in Minnesota. Muncie was later sentenced to a short prison term for selling drugs. He did turn his life around, becoming a drug counselor and working with troubled youth.

Muncie is a memorable figure in Chargers history. This is a sad day for the organization. Thoughts go out to Muncie’s family and friends.

http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post/_/id/58324/chuck-muncie-was-a-memorable-charger
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« Reply #31 on: May 14, 2013, 08:56:15 PM »

The San Diego Chargers hoped that linebacker Melvin Ingram would take a big step forward in his second season. Now it's seems Ingram won't have a second season at all.


NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday on "NFL Total Access" that doctors feared Ingram suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during the Chargers' organized team activities. The Chargers later confirmed the injury.

If Ingram has a complete tear of the ACL, he'll undergo surgery that likely will sideline him for the entire 2013 season.

Ingram -- the 18th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft -- is coming off an underwhelming rookie season in which he made just one start in 16 games. He finished with 16 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.

The injury leaves the Chargers extremely thin at outside linebacker. Two options last season -- Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes -- left the team in free agency.

Don't be surprised if the Chargers enter the mix for veterans Dwight Freeney and John Abraham. The loss of Ingram leaves a serious void in San Diego's pass rush.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000202002/article/melvin-ingram-tears-left-acl-at-chargers-minicamp
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« Reply #32 on: May 17, 2013, 02:23:23 PM »

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000201050/article/manti-teo-san-diego-chargers-look-to-be-a-perfect-match
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« Reply #33 on: May 18, 2013, 01:55:24 PM »

Give the San Diego Chargers credit. They were forced into a bad situation and they answered it by securing arguably the best player remaining on the free-agent market.

Pushed into a corner, rookie San Diego general manager Tom Telesco responded with his highest-profile acquisition of the offseason by signing pass-rusher Dwight Freeney on Saturday. He agreed to a two-year contract according to ESPN’s Ed Werder. Telesco and Freeney were together in Indianapolis since 2002.

The reunion had little chance of occurring until 2012 San Diego first-round draft pick Melvin Ingram tore his ACL in a non-contact OTA on Tuesday. It was a crushing blow. Not only did the Chargers think Ingram was ready to dominate, but he was their top pass-rushing option after the free-agent departures of Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes.

  • Enlarge

Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports
At 33 years old, can Dwight Freeney give San Diego's pass rush steady production?
San Diego has a young, exciting defense but the Ingram injury left a glaring hole. No NFL defense can truly succeed without a legitimate pass rush. There were no better pass-rushing options available than Freeney.

Yes, he is aging at 33 and he has just 13 of his 107.5 career sacks in the past two years. There is no doubt that Freeney, who is known for having one of the best spin moves in the history of the game, is near the end. But this paring makes sense simply out of desperation. The Chargers weren’t going to find a better replacement for Ingram than Freeney and Freeney was not going to get a better situation than San Diego. There were few places Freeney would have had a bigger role.

There are questions of whether Freeney is an ideal fit for the Chargers’ 3-4 defense. He played in it last season in Indianapolis and wasn’t as strong of a fit as he was in the 4-3.

I don’t think it is going to be an issue. San Diego coach Mike McCoy told Werder that the team would adjust to Freeney. That doesn’t mean the Chargers (whose defensive coordinator is John Pagano -- the brother of Chuck Pagano, who was Freeney’s coach in Indianapolis last year) are going to totally scrap the 3-4 for a 33-year-old player. It means the Chargers are multiple in their pass-defense looks and Freeney will likely often line up in his customary 4-3 defensive end position.

In short, the Chargers will put Freeney in his comfort level. Many think he will succeed in San Diego.

“I like it and I do think he has something left,” ESPN’s Matt Williamson said. “The Chargers are not a super strict 3-4 and Freeney did show that he can still be disruptive last year. … I wouldn’t give him all the snaps, but he certainly should be useful.”

ESPN analyst and former Indianapolis general manager Bill Polian told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen this: "There's no question he can fit with that scheme. There are no strict 3-4 defenses, or not many … You take Dwight, you get his hand on the ground and play him for 30 to 40 snaps, let him get after the quarterback."

One of the quarterbacks Freeney will be going after is close friend Peyton Manning, twice a season. The two were longtime teammates with the Colts. Manning tried to recruit Freeney to Denver this offseason after Elvis Dumervil departed to Baltimore. Denver was considered the front-runner for Freeney, but the two sides couldn’t come to a financial accord. Ironically Denver signed Phillips from San Diego instead. Had Freeney ended up in Denver, it would have likely been Phillips who would have replaced Ingram. USA Today reported Denver had late talks with Freeney, but I suspect those were more cursory just to gauge if it could steal Freeney at the last moment.

In the end, I’m not sure if the Chargers are better than they were before Ingram’s injury. They spent more money than expected, especially with a hole at left tackle. The team is still talking to Max Starks and the Chargers will get some cap relief June 1 as part of the Jared Gaither cut.

But the Ingram injury and Freeney signing are prime examples of the always-changing NFL world. The Chargers were put in an emergency situation. I don’t think they could have responded better than securing a potential Hall of Famer as a solution.

http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post/_/id/58594/chargers-solve-problem-with-dwight-freeney
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« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2013, 06:56:05 PM »

The San Diego Chargers have landed a player who likely will become their starting left tackle in 2013.

ESPN's Josina Anderson reported Tuesday that Max Starks told her he had a one-year contract with the Chargers. The team later announced it had signed Starks.

Starks fills a huge need for the Chargers, who have major talent and depth issues up front. Starks stands a very good chance to displace King Dunlap as San Diego's starting left tackle. First-round draft pick D.J. Fluker will start on the opposite side of the line.

Starks, 31, spent the last five seasons protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blind side with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Starks played every snap last season, but he was not re-signed as the Steelers looked to get more athletic at the position.

The Steelers wouldn't have let Starks get away if they thought his best football was still ahead of him. Nevertheless, he's a substantial upgrade for the Chargers, who should consider themselves lucky they had a competent option on the market this late in the game.

Philip Rivers' rib cage really is excited about this move.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000205187/article/max-starks-san-diego-chargers-strike-contract
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« Reply #35 on: June 03, 2013, 11:24:39 PM »

SAN DIEGO – There wasn't even a hint of inclement weather Monday in San Diego, yet Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers wore gloves on both his hands as he headed out to practice.

Rivers started wearing the gloves late last season to prepare to play a game in Pittsburgh in December, and kept them on in the final four games of the season. The Chargers went 3-1 in those games, while Rivers threw 13 touchdowns and no interceptions, a good enough result to convince Rivers to try wearing the gloves regardless of the weather.

"There's a good chance I'll wear them to start out and go. But there's also a chance they'll get ripped off and thrown to the sidelines. You don't have to pick one of the other," Rivers said.

Perhaps Rivers is also trying to mold himself after the former quarterbacks of his new coaches. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt's former pupils Ben Roethlisberger (in Pittsburgh) and Kurt Warner (in Arizona) are both big fans of the glove, and Denver quarterback Peyton Manning began wearing a glove late last year while playing for new Chargers head coach Mike McCoy.

Manning has yet to wear gloves during the Broncos' spring practices that have been open to the media.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/chargers/2013/06/03/philip-rivers-san-diego-chargers-gloves/2386659/
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« Reply #36 on: June 05, 2013, 09:08:18 PM »

The San Diego Chargers drafted D.J. Fluker No. 11 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft with the expectation that he'll be a bedrock for their offensive line for years to come. The team didn't waste any time getting him under contract.
NFL.com's Kimberly Jones reported Wednesday that Fluker's contract with the Chargers is worth $11.4 million over four years. The deal includes a $6.6 million signing bonus. Ezekial Ansah, taken fifth overall by the Detroit Lions, signed weeks ago. But Fluker's deal indicates that we could see more movement soon on rookies taken in the top-15 picks.

Fluker's selection was a clear "need" pick by a Chargers team with a barely functioning offensive line. Right tackles who are known for run blocking rarely are drafted so high. The team is hoping that Fluker's nastiness rubs off on the rest of his offensive line teammates.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000209603/article/dj-fluker-san-diego-chargers-agree-to-contract
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« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2013, 11:58:24 AM »

Philip Rivers: My best days are still ahead of me


Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt recently said that he believes quarterback Philip Rivers can get past 47 turnovers in the last two seasons and become a Pro Bowl player again in the future.

It’s no great surprise to learn that Rivers agrees with Whisenhunt about his ability to bounce back from the struggles of the last two seasons since you don’t often hear 31-year-old starting quarterbacks set to make a handsome salary say that they simply can’t play the game of football anymore. Rivers went a little further than Whisenhunt, actually, saying that his past heights are just prologue for the next phase of his career.

“I think my best football is ahead of me, I really do,” Rivers said, via Lindsay Jones of USA Today. “That’s being optimistic, because we’ve had a lot of really good years. I am probably on the second half of my career, the back end, but I think I’ve got a lot of good football left. To me, the bad is always magnified [more] than the good, and there has been some bad. But there has been a heck of a lot of good.”

Rivers doesn’t need to play the best football of his career in order to get the Chargers offense moving back in the right direction as something between the last two seasons and his 2008-10 peak would represent plenty for Whisenhunt and coach Mike McCoy to work with. Both those men have been consistent in their belief that Rivers is capable of doing that kind of work, although it remains hard to miss the fact that the talent level around Rivers isn’t the same as it was in his most productive seasons. That’s left him to try to do too much, often under heavy pressure, and the results have been dismal.

The Chargers have taken some steps toward remedying that, but there’s still an awful lot on Rivers’ plate heading into the 2013 season. McCoy and Whisenhunt can scheme around a lot, but another year of Rivers against the world isn’t likely to wind up with a particularly different result.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/06/07/philip-rivers-my-best-days-are-still-ahead-of-me/ Grin
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« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2013, 02:00:02 PM »

If you are in San Diego on Monday, you just might run into a Charger.

The San Diego Chargers have assigned Monday as “Thank you San Diego Day.”

Players, cheerleaders and several members of the organization will canvas the greater San Diego area, making surprise visits to thank fans for their support and to help build excitement as the team begins a new era.

“Monday, June 10 will be our day to say ‘thank you’ to Chargers fans and get them ready for the season,” said A.G. Spanos, the team’s chief executive officer. “We’re excited about our new leadership and direction and the possibilities that lie ahead, and we want our fans to feel that excitement.”
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« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2013, 02:06:17 PM »

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« Reply #40 on: June 12, 2013, 04:37:44 PM »

SAN DIEGO -- When the San Diego Chargers moved up seven picks in the second round to offer free-falling Manti Te'o a safety net, the pick was universally applauded.

My initial take was that it was a great fit for Te’o, who went from decorated Notre Dame middle linebacker to a perceived risky pick thanks to a strange Internet hoax involving a fake dead girlfriend. It turned Te’o from a Heisman Trophy runner-up into a household name on the tabloid circuit.

Even though he was taken about 30 spots later than originally expected (the Chargers took Te’o with the No. 38 pick), the San Diego selection appeared to be the perfect consolation for Te’o’s terrible three-month ordeal.

Te’o fits the Chargers’ 3-4 defensive scheme perfectly. San Diego is not a major media market. The Chargers have a mature locker room that can lead Te’o. San Diego is relatively close to his native Hawaii and the city has a thriving Polynesian community.

Less than two months into his San Diego tenure, Te’o completely agrees.

“It’s a perfect place for me,” Te’o said after a minicamp practice in which he was a major part of the defense.

“This organization is full of good people who care about each other. ... It’s the perfect situation.”

The key for Te’o’s comfort level in San Diego is his teammates. It is clear the team has taken to Te’o, who has a strong work ethic and a desire to be the best as selling points. Teammates and coaches have raved about his work ethic.

Team insiders said the hoax has never been mentioned and it is a non-issue in the locker room. The only heckling or hazing Te’o gets from his veteran teammate is the occasional “You’re not at Notre Dame anymore, rook” when he is beaten on a play.

Translation: Te’o has fit in. It is obvious it is a major relief to him.

"When we're out on the football field, everything else doesn't matter," Te’o said. "Thankfully, for me, I'm surrounded by a bunch of teammates who have really pushed me to be better. All they care about is that No. 50 is working his butt off. I'll take care of the work ethic part, and for them, they just make sure that I'm going in the right direction.”

  • Enlarge
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
"When we're out on the football field, everything else doesn't matter," said Manti Te'o.
As Te’o says, he and his teammates are in the locker room for the same reason. It was easy to sense that Te’o is being judged on his football ability by his teammates and coaches.

San Diego head coach Mike McCoy praised Te’o’s ability to stay on the field for three downs and simply said this: “He is one of us now.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers, who is always polite and agreeable in media sessions, appeared annoyed that some questions still revolve around Te’o’s non-football life.

"He's one of the guys. He hasn't been treated differently than any of the other guys,” Rivers said. "He hasn't acted any differently than any of the other guys. He's acted himself. He's lived up to everything thus far that I think is expected of him, both on the field and off.

“I’m still trying to figure out what the story is ... the story is so old and tired. I'd have figured y'all had moved on to something else by now."

While his teammates are tiring of the subject, Te’o deserves much credit for the way he is handling the situation. Tuesday, he spent about 20 minutes with media members and he politely answered every question. He never seemed agitated or perplexed when the hoax was brought up. He was thoughtful and he looked questioners in the eye.

He appears mature beyond his 22 years and all the talk of his sterling character at Notre Dame is easy to buy. I think the player should be allowed to concentrate on football like every other NFL rookie. Unless more information on the hoax that implicates Te’o is somehow unearthed, I don’t think he should be asked about it anymore. As of now, there is nothing more to be gleaned.

The focus now should be on how Te’o can help this team. Ask Te’o a football question and his eyes light up. It’s easy to tell he loves the game and the passion he showed in college is still with him.

“He has great instincts,” Rivers said. “The things he that can’t be coached, he has.”

The Chargers have a promising, young defense. But the team does need help in the middle. San Diego was last in red zone defense last season. It allowed a touchdown on 70 percent of opponents’ red zone trips. Notre Dame was ranked third in the country in red zone defense last season.

Te’o appears ready to do what it takes to help the cause. However, he did chuckle when a reporter asked him what he thought about becoming the face of the franchise.

“I’ll leave that up to Philip and (safety Eric Weddle) and (tight end Antonio Gates), Te’o said. “I just want to be the best Charger I can be.”

For Te’o, that would make this perfect place even better.

http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post/_/id/59107/manti-teo-is-one-of-the-guys-in-san-diego
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« Reply #41 on: June 18, 2013, 01:05:52 PM »

AFC WEST
2012 champs: Denver Broncos
Likeliest threat in 2013: San Diego Chargers


Why San Diego?

The chic pick in the AFC West is the Kansas City Chiefs, mostly due to the trade for quarterback Alex Smith and the arrival of coach Andy Reid. It's interesting that no one is considering how much Smith struggled prior to Jim Harbaugh becoming his coach in San Francisco. Smith will have a new offensive coordinator in Kansas City -- and, if you remember, the constant changing of offensive coordinators was what got blamed for all of Smith's struggles his first six years in the league. Either way, here's a vote for Philip Rivers resuscitating his career in 2013. Bear in mind that the Chargers went 7-9 last season, whereas the Chiefs fell to 2-14. The Bolts also allowed nearly five fewer points per game.

How it can happen:

» Chargers head coach Mike McCoy needs to improve the passing game by creating higher-percentage shots on intermediate routes. Rivers averaged less than 7 yards per throw last year.
» Receiver Vincent Brown and running back Ryan Mathews MUST stay healthy for all 16.
» Manti Te'o has to show that his football IQ is as high as talent evaluators like Mike Mayock say it is. Not only must he anticipate what opposing offenses will do, he also must help get the defense in position to make the plays he doesn't.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000212893/article/dallas-cowboys-san-diego-chargers-among-divisional-threats
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« Reply #42 on: June 26, 2013, 01:42:11 PM »

Chargers Tweak Jerseys for First Time Since 2007


When the San Diego Chargers take the field in 2013, they’ll be wearing slightly altered uniforms than what they’ve been wearing for the last six seasons.  There are three tweaks to the uniform, and while they are minor changes, the Chargers believe they will greatly improve the aesthetics of the jerseys.




“We have been thinking about this change for several years,” said Executive Vice President - Chief Executive Officer AG Spanos. “We knew exactly what we wanted to do.  We didn’t have to redevelop the uniforms.  We like the uniforms, but we felt like we could adjust a few details and make them better. The changes aren’t big changes. They are really just tweaks.  We didn’t make this change so fans had to go out and buy new jerseys.  It was never been meant to spruce sales.  We wanted to change the jersey because we thought it would make it better.”

The first tweak is to the nameplate on the back of the uniform.

“We changed the nameplate on all three of the jerseys,” said Spanos. “We had wanted to go to a two-color font.  Most teams in the league use a two color font and it really highlights the name.  It looks a little bit sharper and a little bit more modern.”

In addition to modernizing the jerseys, the team is also paying homage to its’ history.

“We ended up changing the primary color on the nameplate font on the navy jersey to gold, it’s reminiscent of the 1980’s teams because they had gold nameplate font as well.”

In addition to the gold font, the nameplate will be trimmed with powder blue on the navy jersey.  On the white jersey, the font will be navy with a gold outline, and on the powder blue jersey the name is white with a navy outline.

The second alteration is to the collar of the jerseys.

“We switched to what is called a self-color collar,” Spanos explained. “Basically the collar is going to be the same color as the jerseys.  So on navy it will be navy, on white it will be white and on powder it will be powder. Last year we had a white collar that ended in a square and there were comments about it looking like a neckroll. The Chargers are not alone, there are six teams changing their collars this year without making major changes to the uniform just as we are.”

The third and final uniform modification is to the team’s socks.  Midway up the sock there will now be a gold stripe.  There is no change to the helmet or pants.

NFL switched to Nike jerseys last season, and the change has been a welcomed one.

“Nike’s jerseys are lighter and more durable, and the players like them better,” said Spanos. “It’s a better quality jersey than what we’ve had in the past."

According to Equipment Manager Bob Wick, the jerseys come in four iterations – the QB cut, the linebacker cut, the skill cut and the lineman cut. In addition to being lighter and more durable, he says another advantage of the Nike jerseys is that they are water proof.

There is no set date for when the jerseys with the slight alterations will become available for fans to purchase.  They will be made available on a rolling basis, and come in three different versions – Elite, Limited and Game.   Be sure to visit the Chargers Team Store at Qualcomm Stadium or the online pro shop to purchase any Chargers jersey.

http://www.chargers.com/news/article-1/Chargers-Tweak-Jerseys-for-First-Time-Since-2007/86ed638e-267a-430c-9d30-e65088394a71
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« Reply #43 on: June 29, 2013, 05:55:04 PM »

Forgive Philip Rivers for not paying much attention to Danario Alexander when he arrived in the San Diego Chargers’ locker room late last October.

It was nothing personal, but Rivers had become used to seeing nameless receivers join the team during the season. After all, Rivers had to work with 17 different receivers during the 2010 season. After a while, they just became faces.

But it didn’t take long for Alexander to graduate from bottom-of-the-roster fodder to one of Rivers’ favorite targets.

“Honestly, I didn’t give him much of a thought right away,” Rivers said. “But that changed quickly.”

Alexander, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 217 pounds, started making plays and turning the heads of players and coaches almost instantly.

“It went from 'Who is this guy' to 'How did we even get a chance to get him?' I couldn’t believe he came off the street. He should have been on a roster already,” Rivers said. “I thought he was an emergency guy, then it was 'Holy smokes, we need this guy. We got to get him on the field.'"

Remarkably, Alexander -- a star at Missouri who was ravaged by injuries in college -- was starting for San Diego at Cleveland in just his second week with the team and after just four practices.

Alexander made an instant impact and he kept it up. He had 37 catches for 658 yards (for an impressive 17.8 yard-per-catch average) and seven touchdowns in 10 games.


Danario Alexander
#84 WR
San Diego Chargers
2012 STATS
Rec
37
Yds
658
TD
7
Avg
17.8
Long
80
YAC
299..It is rare for players to make that type of impact after signing during the season. Rivers was right: Alexander, 24, was signed as an emergency player. But he became an integral part of San Diego’s offense, and he is part of the plan for the new brass.

The Chargers were worried that Alexander would get a contract offer in restricted free agency and leave the team. Rivers said he was “scared to death” Alexander would leave during the offseason. There was a lot of talk that some unnamed teams seriously considered inking Alexander to an offer sheet, but it never developed.

With Alexander under contract, San Diego plans to use him extensively. He will probably be in the front of the rotation along with Vincent Brown (who is back after a broken ankle wiped out his entire second season), Malcom Floyd and third-round pick Keenan Allen.

There will be a place for Alexander because of his size and raw skill. New coach Mike McCoy was not with the team when the Chargers struck gold with Alexander. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t thrilled to coach him.

“He showed the same thing this spring that we saw on tape when we took over,” McCoy said. “He has big-play capability. He has worked hard, and he has taken advantage of his opportunity here.”

Rivers said he has seen Alexander make strides this spring and expects him to be even stronger this season after having a full offseason and training camp with Rivers and the rest of the offense. Rivers and Alexander developed chemistry quickly last season. And Rivers said the two are still getting in sync.

Alexander is thrilled to get this opportunity after struggling with injuries. He was a highly rated prospect coming out of college. In 2009, he had 113 catches for 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns.

However, Alexander couldn’t stay healthy. He tore his ACL twice in college and was hurt during the Senior Bowl leading up to the draft. He spent some time with the St. Louis Rams, but he didn’t make an impact. He had several workouts before catching on with the Chargers.

“Last year was really satisfying because of everything I went through,” Alexander said. “Staying healthy and getting a chance was a key for me. I know what happened last year never happens in the NFL. Guys usually don’t go from the street to a starter. But I had confidence in myself.”

Alexander hopes his career continues to soar, but he takes pride in turning heads when he arrived.

“They saw what I was doing with the ball after the catch in practice and all the guys said, 'Where did you come from?'" Alexander said. “They all went home and looked me up on the Internet. Guys wanted to know my history.”

Now, in San Diego, all they care about is Alexander’s future.

http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post/_/id/59400/san-diego-chargers-know-all-about-danario-alexander-now
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« Reply #44 on: July 06, 2013, 08:06:30 PM »

Enemy Intel

2012 record: 7-9

Key acquisitions: LB Dwight Freeney, OT Max Starks, DE Jarius Wynn, CB Derek Cox, RB Danny Woodhead, TE John Phillips, G Chad Rinehart, OT King Dunlap, WR Deon Butler

Draft picks: OT D.J. Fluker, LB Manti Te’o, WR Keenan Allen, CB Steve Williams, DE Tourek Williams, QB Brad Sorensen

Storyline No. 1: Can Philip Rivers turn it around?

The Chargers made the playoffs in each of Rivers’ first four seasons as a starter (2006-2009). But they’ve missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons.

GM A.J. Smith and Coach Norv Turner paid the price for the failures when they were fired in January.

Now Rivers is on the hot seat.

The four-time Pro Bowler committed 47 turnovers the past two seasons (only Mark Sanchez had more). Furthermore, his passing yards declined by more than 1,000 yards last season to a rather pedestrian 3,606.

Some analysts have begun to wonder about Rivers’ footwork and arm strength. Others point to the declining talent around him as well as a suspect offensive line (more on that later) as the reasons for his recent woes.

But this much cannot be argued: Rivers has no connection to the new regime, general manager Tom Telesco and coach Mike McCoy. And, because of that, the 2013 season is, without a doubt, Rivers’ most important in San Diego.

Storyline No. 2: How’s Te’o fitting in?

It wouldn’t have been complete a shock had Te’o received a little ribbing from his veteran teammates.

But, in an interview with SiriusXM NFL radio last week, the Notre Dame product revealed that he hasn’t been teased about the dead girlfriend scandal that dominated sports headlines in January.

“To be honest with you, I was kind of expecting the worst,” said Te’o, who was drafted in the second round. “I was careful where I went. I was careful with what I said. The first day (of OTAs), guys are coming up to me and saying, ‘Just have fun. Be you.’ With that encouragement, I slowly started opening up a little more. I became myself — fast.”

No one will soon forget Te’o’s connection to one of college football’s strangest stories. But if he’s getting a free pass as a rookie in an NFL locker room, perhaps the embarrassing episode will indeed disappear in the rearview sooner rather than later.

Te’o is projected as a starting inside linebacker.

Storyline No. 3: About that offensive line …

One of Rivers’ problems last season was the fact that he was sacked 49 times – 19 more than 2011 – for a total loss of 311 yards. Only Green bay’s Aaron Rodgers was sacked more (51).

After that debacle, Telesco quickly went about retooling the unit that protects his quarterback.

Fluker, the 11th overall pick out of Alabama, is projected start at right tackle. Free agent additions Chad Rinehart and Max Starks are expected to start at left guard and left tackle, respectively. Last season’s right tackle, Jeromey Clary, is expected to slide to right guard and replace Louis Vasquez, who signed with Denver. Former Eagles’ tackle King Dunlap, meantime, will push Starks and provide some depth.

Will it work? Telesco (and Rivers) had better hope so.


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